Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bad Vibrations?

The repair took care of almost all of the shaft wobble. There is still a bit of movement (more like vibration), particularly in the 1200-1400 RPM range, but the problem is much improved. I'd like to get rid of the vibration too, but at least the situation is tolerable for now. If you look closely at this video, you can see what I mean. There is some vibration, but it's far better than what you see in the video in my last post. For now, I'll probably just monitor the problem and consider taking care of it in the off-season. If it worsens, maybe I'll reconsider.

I'm probably going to repack the stuffing box (again) this weekend, just to bring that back to baseline. The packing material is cheap, and the job is easy. It will help me eliminate possible causes if any problems continue.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I was hoping I wouldn't have any maintenance or repairs to write about for a while. Our Rock Hall trip over Memorial Day, however, made it clear that I needed to address the shaft wobble immediately. Here's a video of the wobbling shaft at cruising speed.

I scheduled haul out and repair at Hartge Yacht Yard for June 11. My expectation was that the wobble was some combination of bad alignment, bent shaft, or worn cutless bearing. Luke Frey (the yard manager at Hartge) added bad engine mounts and prop damage to the possibilities.

You might be wondering why I scheduled the repair at Hartge instead of Bristol Marine, at my home marina. I've mentioned before that Bristol staff are slow to respond and rarely communicate. I asked them during the off season to do the prop work and inspect/replace the cutless bearing as needed. After considerable hounding, they finally did the prop in April, but not the cutless, which I stupidly took as indicating that the cutless bearing was ok. It looked real nice, too bad it wasn't done right. I actually called and emailed them about the shaft wobble, but didn't hear anything back for a full week, when I received a work order for a short haul to inspect the cutless bearing. Well, this wasn't what I asked for, and Hartge was already scheduled to do the work, so I cancelled the work order. The manager only acted annoyed, when he should have been concerned about a unsatisfied customer in his own marina.

Anyway, while anchored in the Rhode River prior to dropping the boat off at Hartge, I swam underneath to check out the running gear. I discovered the prop nut and new zinc were gone, strongly suggesting that the nut was not fastened correctly with a wire or cotter pin to keep it from spinning off. I was very fortunate that the prop itself wasn't lost. That was the last straw. In addition to the extra haulout expense and lost summer time, I'm now out $80 for a new prop nut. I am done with Bristol. If I get around to having a frank conversation with the yard manager at Bristol, maybe he can convince me to give them another try.

Stay tuned, I'll post an update soon on the outcome of the repair.