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Thread: Repacking the Rudder Stuffing Box

  1. #1
    Contributing Member III cruis-n's Avatar
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    Repacking the Rudder Stuffing Box

    Well, it looks like I have to repack the rudder stuffing box on my E35-3. I have the proper amount and size packing material. The question I have is: How is the stuffing box put together? My assumption is that when the upper plate it loosened and raised up, I will have to get some tool between the shaft and the lower bronze rudder tube to dig the old stuffing out. Is this a valid assumption?

    I was looking at an old shaft log the other day and the packing material was in the nut, not on the tube part. That got me to thinking that my assumption was incorrect. Has anyone else replaced the packing? Any special tools or suggestions to make the job go easier? I plan to do it in the water, is this a bad idea? Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

  2. #2
    Contributing Partner
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    I don't know if its the same on a 35-3 , but on my 35-2 you lossen the plate. It has four bolts that hold it down from the top, they thread into the lower part. Once the plate is up you can grab the stuffing with your fingers or needle nose pliers. it is not like a shaft log. There is only one loop of stuffing, no overlap. E-35-2 have a three inch rudder post. I did this while under way sailing to Hawaii, with the windvane steering. As long as the top of the tube is above the water line (and it is ) you will have no problem doing it in the water.

    Good luck

    Phil

  3. #3
    New Member sailcarole's Avatar
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    Rudder shaft packing

    Did you successfully replace the packing? If so, please share! I have a 1986 Ericson 32 sloop with Yacht Specialties steering quadrant mounted close on top of the packing nut. It will have to be removed to lift up the top flange. I have a major leak visible when motoring between the top of the fiberglass post tube and the lower portion of the packing nut. So I have a question as to how the packing inside the lower part of the nut will stop the leak that appears outside. (?) I also want to replace the packing in the water if possible. Have varying opinions that there is more of a major problem with wear of the rudder post tube. Any comment?

  4. #4
    Fellow Ericson Owner Geoff Johnson's Avatar
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    If you look at page 34 of the 32-3 owner's manual (mine is posted on this site) you will see a drawing of the steering system. If your boat is the same, I am quite certain that you do not have to remove the pedestal in order to drop the rudder or replace the packing. Moreover, you will see that the packing gland is well above the water line, so you should be able to perform this repair while the boat is in the water (just don't remove the bolt holding the rudder in the boat!). You may, however, have to remove the quadrant to get enough room above the packing gland. However, I have not done this repair myself. Your boat leaks underway because of the stern wake which effectively raises the waterline. Finally, my rudder did develop "play" due to wear. My yard's fix was to remove the existing bronze bushing and replace it with one made from Delrin (nylon). Of course this was done while the boat was out of the water and the rudder had to be removed.
    Geoff Johnson

    New Wave
    Ericson 32-3 (1985) Hull #638
    Rowayton, CT

  5. #5
    Contributing Member III cruis-n's Avatar
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    But... I still want a dry bilge!

    Well, I still have yet to replace the packing material. As Sailcarole points out, underway, the water is coming out below the stuffing box, not from the stuffing box.

    We've looked at the stuffing box itself, and there is a 3" dia. plastic sleeve around the rudder post just above the top plate of the stuffing box which prevents the top plate from raising more than ~1/2". I guess this means that I have to move the quadrant out of the way (up) to the sleeve can be moved up out of the way. Comments on this anyone?

    As for the leak from below the stuffing box, I've ground off the material from the outside of the tube (paint of some sort not gelkote), mixed filler with West Systems epoxy, covered the tube, then put on three layers of glass from just underneath the bottom flange of the stuffing box to the base of the rudder tube. Then went back with a syringe filled with filler/epoxy mixture to fill any voids. So far, all of this has been done in the water. I'll try to remember to post some photos.

    While this has not (yet) cured the leak, we have gone from 3-5 gallons in the bilge after 8 hours of sailing at hull speed to 1/4-1/2 gallons for the same conditions. But... I still want a dry bilge! Next time we are underway, we'll get down in the locker and observe to see where it's leaking, then mount another attack with a syringe and eponxy/filler.

    Comments or alternatives on what to try next? Hydraulic cement?

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