Limited Access

Access to the back side of my engine is through the starboard cockpit locker.  This access is important because it’s the only way I can get to the propeller shaft and stuffing box.  Once or twice a season I have to adjust the stuffing box so that it drips the correct amount of water.  Not too much, not too little.  That drip lubricates the prop shaft.  Too fast a drip makes the bilge pump run too often.  Too slow a drip damages the prop shaft.

The batteries are also down there just to my right in the photo.  I think I was checking the electrolyte level on this trip into the locker.

It is always an exercise in flexibility, made more difficult by my increasingly inflexible body.  Thought you would enjoy this photo my wife took of me emerging from the nether regions of the engine room.

Mission accomplished: Electrolyte checked. Body unbent.

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6 comments
  1. Why not get a dripless unit. Eliminates the problem of an inflexible body. ;-)

    • Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by.

      There are other advantages to the dripless – having a bone-dry bilge would be pretty nice. I would rather have to dust down there, than pump it dry:).

      At this point, though, I’m a budget-minded sailor. The traditional stuffing box works and I understand how to maintain it. I really don’t understand how the dripless works, although after installing it I would. Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t have room for it between my coupling and stern tube. When I re-powered, it turns out the new motor is just a bit longer than the old – that ate up the extra space on the shaft for that sort of thing.

      • Understand the budget-mindedness but at I believe less than $200.00 it is a small price to pay for avoiding a bad back injury which might cost a lot more not to mention loss of on the water time. :-) I put one in my last boat and it was one of the best investments I ever made for the boat, other than roller furling.

      • Mike, it’s not the cost so much as the priority. There are tangible benefits to the dripless system beyond staying out of the engine compartment, although that is certainly a big one. At this point, though, there are other things I would do with that $200 before installing dripless stuffing box. Right near the top of the list is replacing my headstay. I’ve piece-meal replaced all the other standing rigging. What’s holding me up with the headstay is researching new pieces for the furler’s foil, which will have to be replaced also. I can’t disassemble it because it was put together about 25 years ago and the stainless fasteners have corroded/welded themselves into the surrounding aluminum material. This is a winter project…

  2. I understand about being a budget-minded boater. I check my stuffing boxes on my twin screws regularly, but mine are easy to get to between each engine and V-drive underneath my twin berths in the aft state room.

    • I envy your access, Rob. Actually, I shouldn’t complain about my access. There is plenty of room down there. Getting one’s self into the position to do any meaningful work can be a challenge, but mostly I just need to not be in a hurry. Thanks for stopping by!

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