I'm trying to get some sales/technical/installation info on Drip-Free Packing, the blue Teflon/grease that was the subject of a thread on this list a month or

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NameI'm trying to get some sales/technical/installation info on Drip-Free Packing, the blue Teflon/grease that was the subject of a thread on this list a month or
A typeDocumentation
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Saga # 3: The Dripless Seal
Kamaloha had a dripless seal which was rather tired and had no "spring" left to the bellows, and leaked fairly prodigiously while turning. With the boat on the hard it was time to replace it. An easy project, right?
1) Chop off and peen out the corroded split pin.

2) Borrow the world's largest spanners to spin off the prop nuts.

3) Curse and cajole and several hours later finally succeed in banging and gear-pulling the prop off.

4) Remove the batteries to get to the aberrant dripless seal.

5) Try the trick of pinching a sparkplug socket between the tranny and the propshaft to press the flange off the shaft. In your dreams! I now know what it takes to stretch four 3/8" threaded rods to the breaking point. Having done so, borrow the big spanner and gear puller again, then soak the flange in cutting oil, heat with blowtorch while cooling prop shaft. Bang, curse, repeat. Ah, a millimeter movement after only two hours! Repeat cycle. Seven hours later, prop flange finally comes off and shaft is free.

6) Clean up the shaft. Luckily it is corrosion-free and looks quite good. Carefully hone prop flange corrosion out to make a nice snug fit onto shaft.

7) Oops-- misalignment. For those that have never seen the dripless seal, it is fitted by removing the bronze inner flange to the old packing seal and flipping it about so the flanges are tight together, then hose clamping the rubber bellow of the new seal to the old inner flange. Well, careful inspection shows engine has sagged in its mounts over the years, and the hard prop shaft has cleanly worn the bronze flange to a mere paper-thickness on the bottom side. Scary!

8) Find an old bronze pipe-fitting in the junk bin at the machine shop and mill it to make a new cutlass bearing flange.

9) Align shaft.

10) Smooge and attach new seal. Oops... the larger diameter bronze fitting we just made doesn't allow enough space between the old cutlass bearing studs for the bellows to fit. Remove, clean out the smooge, and grind off studs to just long enough for nuts to fit.

11) Now there is just enough room to get the bellows on. Smooge with 4200 this time just to give it that extra little oomph to the seal.

12) Fit prop shaft, flange, and bolt it all together.

13) Hmmm, can't get the leverage required to press SS mating doughnut the required 1" into the bellows. Fiddle with various means of obtaining leverage for another hour.

14) Finally, refit the prop, nuts, zincs, and split pin.
Pretty soon my wife is going to outfit the lazarette with bedding and a stove, I spend so much time down there...
Charlie s/v Kamaloha January 2003


Jeez! You really win the prize for the nightmare story of the day.

The prospect of a dripless bellows rupturing in the ocean was said to be unlikely - by the manufacturer. But a few different boatwrights expressed great concern to me about this prospect. The man I was about to contract to install a PYI dripless seal urged that I first try the Gore-Tex dripless packing. That was a year ago. It cost about $20, rather than $400. Worked beautifully and for the first time since we bought our boat, it no longer produced a steady flow of seawater into the bilge. Works great, and easy to change. I keep my fingers crossed hoping that it is not scoring the propshaft. But the bilge is almost completely dry. (Almost, but not completely! Some comes from rain, some from water that enters when I pull the speedo transducer to clean off crud. )
regards, Harvey January 2003


I understand the angst over the PSS Seal. However, when you take a close look at them they are essentially the same stuff as the rubber hose used for the raw-water intake, so I figured the likelihood of a rupture was about the same. The old one was on there for 10+ years as near as I can tell, and the rubber had not deteriorated, just lost the "spring" to the bellows so it was hard to put much tension on the seal. I did have sufficient angst over the thing popping off the bronze fitting that I used 4200 to make the connection this time; that stuff is awfully hard to take apart. Plus, the bellows compression puts a lot of pressure on the connection to keep it in place. I assuaged my angst that way. The scariest part was the worn bronze fitting. I suppose you can argue that this problem was hidden by the sealing properties of the PSS seal. Had it still been a regular stuffing box, the wear would still have happened, but it would have shown itself earlier due to the loss of seal and greater leak around the stuffing.
As far as the price goes, the new seal was about $100 on eBay; plus my day's worth of time, plus $25 to mill the bronze junk pipe fitting into a new flange.
I've got three bilge pumps; automatic, manual-electric, and manual arm-powered. I know from experience that the automatic can handle the full flow from a leaking prop seal. Last year the prop-saver sheared off and the whole shaft displaced aft, forcing the SS doughnut on the seal up the shaft and essentially opening up the seal. The bilge pump kicked in and took care of the water flow, a little too silently actually; I couldn't hear it running until I went below decks an hour later after running around trying to sail the boat into a marina slip after the drive failure. Maybe I'll wire the auto-bilge pump to the low-oil-pressure squealer (with diodes) so I really know when it is running.
If I were to try to go back to a regular packing seal at this point I would probably have to replace everything on the inside end of the boat, since I have no matching bronze fittings at this point. My bilge is not totally dry, either. I've got a very, very slow trickle from the rudder shaft packing seal that I didn't pick up on until after we splashed this time (it probably leaked 20ml in two days). Next time she is on the hard I'll tackle repacking that, probably with the Gore-Tex stuff.
Charlie s/v Kamaloha January 2003

Hi Group,

I just replaced my metric (Tayana) prop shaft with a 1 1/4" shaft with a standard marine taper and standard threads for the nuts. It required that I also replace the coupler. The new coupler has a keyway for the shaft and uses two, 5/16" set screws set in dimples in the shaft to keep it from moving forward or back in the coupler. The keyway keeps it from spinning in the coupler.
Since I intend to order an Autoprop, I had to borrow a (power boat) three blade fixed prop until the Autoprop arrives. When I pulled away from the boatyard the drive train was making a horrible racket. It sounded like something was badly out of balance. I figured that it was the prop, because I had spun the shaft while I was in the yard and turned easily and alignment with the coupler was nearly perfect.

When I had cleared all of the bridges on the Miami River and reached Biscayne Bay, I decided to sail the rest of the way to the marina. After a beautiful sail of a couple of miles, I started the engine to hold me into the wind while I furled the sail. The engine revved all the way up but it was obvious that the prop was not engaging.
Imagine my surprise when I checked the shaft and saw that it had backed completely out of the coupler! The prop was up against the rudder. Fortunately, the Gore GFO packing I had put it was keeping any water from entering the boat. After identifying the problem, I thought it highly unlikely that I would be able to work the shaft back into the coupling by myself with no one to push it forward from outside the boat. I found however, that the packing, without leaking a drop, allowed me to slide the shaft forward to the coupler from inside the boat. Although the alignment was very close, it wasn't close enough to allow me to push the shaft up into the coupler. After scratching my head for a couple of minutes, it came to me that if I loosened the four bolts that connect the coupler to the shaft saver, I might be able to move it around the fraction needed to allow me to shove the shaft back into the coupler.
Unbelievable, it worked! It turned out that the problem was, when I installed the shaft, I had to align the set screws with the matching shaft dimples by feel as I couldn't see into the set screw holes. Apparently I missed the dimples and had tightened the set screws into the smooth part of the shaft where they quickly worked loose. As long as I was moving forward, in gear, the shaft was being pushed up into the coupler. As soon as I stopped the engine and began sailing, the shaft promptly slide back out of the coupler. Anyway, any of you that have ever tried to get a shaft to slide into a coupler on dry land know what a job it can be. It was a piece of incredible luck that I was able to do it while alone on the water.
I owe a large part of the credit to the Gore GFO packing which allowed me to slide the shaft forward, through the stuffing box and cutlass bearing, without allowing a single drop of water into the boat. I am absolutely sold on it. Good Stuff! BTW- no affiliation with Gore. I learned about it on this list, I think it was from you Harvey. I use 5/16"packing. It is tight but goes with just a little coaxing.
Regards, Gary Schieferdecker S/V Bold Venture January 2003

FYI, I just repacked Prudence's gland and she took about 7 rings of 1/4" Teflon.

John Kalpus Prudence Tayana 37 San Diego January 2003

Since the keyway guarantees that the shaft is in the coupling in the right place rotationally, the only variable is the depth. When I reassembled mine I carefully lined up those dimples out of the boat where I could see them and marked the shaft with a scratch as to the proper depth. Then when I had to reassemble it in the boat I just lined up the scratch with the flange. Hopefully this did the trick; it's still in there for now at least. I also safety wired the set screws using my best aviation technique. After all the talk of Gore-Tex packing I can envision myself switching back to a stuffing box on the next haul; however as I mentioned I no longer have mating components of a stuffing box, and I predict that both halves would need to be replaced. Does anyone know if this is a "stock" item, a Grand-Deer never-find-one-again, or what?
Charlie January 2003


Hi Steve,

I used GFO packing in my Cal 31 ( my last boat) for 2 years. After 2 adjustments it never leaked a drop. I can't wait to put it in my T-42 and dry up the bilge. Look on the net because you can find it considerably cheaper than the West Marine price. My link is corrupt so can't share it at the moment.
Jeff Orca T- 42 CC February 2003

Your note prompts me to add an update and status report on the GFO packing material in a standard stuffing box. After using GFO Teflon Packing for about 16 months, I can report that it really works wonderfully well. I have the original material still in place, the shaft remains cool when under power, and there is absolutely no significant leakage of water that I can detect. There might be a bit of seepage when under power, but the rare number of times that my bilge pump goes off could also be consequent to the gush of water that I get when I pull my speedometer transducer to clean it. I now monitor the bilge pump with a bilge pump counter. I installed it about a week ago, and the bilge pump has not triggered even once during this past week at the dock. There might be a bit more seepage when motoring, but clearly this is a huge improvement over the problems I was having 16 months ago, when I was using the standard flax (with or without Teflon - didn't seem to work very well).

The GFO works so well, that I find little reason any longer to consider installing a PSS dripless stuffing box. For a bilge counter, I found a surplus event counter with a small battery, and added a simple reed relay. When the bilge pump goes on it triggers the reed relay, which advances the bilge counter. The parts were throw-aways in surplus in our electronics shop, but should be easily obtained for only a few bucks at any electronics surplus store. Much cheaper than the $50 or $60 for a bilge counter at West Marine.

regards, Harvey T-37 La Jolla, CA June 2003


We used some Greenish Blue putty, but paid even more for it. It was a total waste of money. We ended up going back to the regular waxed flax stuffing. But we could never properly control the leak, which was the reason we were considering installing a PSS dripless bellow. Fortunately for us, the man at the boatyard who we contacted about installing the PSS suggested that we first try GFO. It is a braided material with Teflon and carbon. He said that $20 for GFO would be a lot cheaper than $450 for installing a PSS! If it didn't work, he still would be glad to install the PSS. He also pointed out that if the GFO leaked, it would be no worse than with ordinary stuffing, and I could still go to the PSS. But as he also pointed out, even though PSS only rarely fails, when it does, it can be a disaster to deal with at sea.

I spoke with our diver about the idea of packing wax around the cutlass bearing, as he had once described that as a way to stop flooding when I was working on the flexible drive shaft coupling. He used a $2 wax package used as the gasket for seating toilet bowls in homes, purchased at Home Depot. It almost completely stopped water flow as I removed all the old packing. (Or at least, I HOPE I removed all the old packing). Get one of those corkscrew like devices.

Based on the shaft diameter of 1.25" and the internal diameter of the stuffing box of 1.75", that should suggest that we use 1/4" (0.25") GFO. But the shaft was seated somewhat eccentrically in the stuffing box, and I couldn't fit the 1/4" GFO around all parts of the shaft. I also noticed that the box of stuffing flax that was originally on the boat was 3/16". The eccentricity also probably contributed to leakage and inability to get a good seal. I then shifted to 3/16" GFO, and packed a bit of extra material on the side with the bigger gap. Snugged it down and packed in a bit more. Removed the wax seal from the cutlass bearing. Then loosened the nuts on the stuffing box slightly and started the engine. Made sure it was securely tied to the dock, and then put it in gear. Initially there was a very slight amount of seepage of a carbon Teflon mixture. I ran it for a while (?15 minutes?), snugged it down a tad. Ran the engine again. Shaft was ever so slightly warmer just at the stuffing box, but still quite cool.

All serious leakage has been solved since then. After the first week or two with minor adjustment, it has not shown any notable leak. I did let is seep ever so slowly, and the pump may come once every few days for just a few seconds. But that happens only when I shift to a port tack because of the
location of the float switch in the bottom of the bilge being affected by the residual water. It stays on for a few seconds. In order to be alerted to the bilge pump going on, I bought a small piezo buzzer at Radio Shack for about $3, and wired it across the automatic bilge pump switch (a black panel switch with 3 positions - Auto, Manual and OFF) located near the electrical panel. It is not very loud, but there is no mistaking it when you hear it.

Our primary bilge pump is a Rule 1100 with a built-in automatic float switch. I chose that unit rather than a separate bilge pump with a separate float switch because I had trouble positioning the float switch in the narrowing and curved bottom of the bilge, in a location that would remain constant relative to the pump. The integrated pump and float switch is a lot easier to deal with.

Harvey June 2003

Subject: Stuffing box and dripless packing, bilge counter

We also have used the GFO for the last 12 months with great success. I unfortunately failed to record the size of the GFO we used, but I seem to recall that we ordered the 1/4" but they sent us the 3/16" and it fit just fine. Good luck.

Dayton Eckerson T-37 #215 July 2003


Visit the link below to learn about GFO packing. We used 1/4" 6 rings which is 2 packages.

Joe Sprouse Sojourn July 2003

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