Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stuff It

Repacked Stuffing Box
Replaced Racor Fuel Filter

After the recent repair work, I'd been having trouble getting the stuffing box adjusted properly. I had just repacked it over the winter while the boat was on the hard, but I was concerned that the packing may have been compromised by the repairs. It's a cheap fix, so I repacked it again. This time, however, I changed the packing while the boat was in the water. Since the packing is what keeps the water out, that seems like a scary task, but it really wasn't bad. Having done the job before, I was confident that I'd be able to complete the job quickly and easily, with a little preparation. I laid out everything I needed near my workspace:
  • Gore GFO packing material, cut into rings in advance
  • Stuffing box wrenches
  • A rag and Simple Green for cleaning the shaft
  • A pick, a long screw, and a screwdriver (for removing the old packing)
  • An allen wrench for pushing the new packing into the box
I unscrewed the packing nut and slid it up the shaft. Water starting flowing in immediately, but not at an alarming rate. Working quickly, I cleaned the residue from the old packing material off of the shaft, and then tied the rag around the shaft to slow the water. The pick was not very helpful in removing the old packing, so I used the long screw instead. I screwed it into the old material until it gripped, and then used it to pull out the ring, repeating this step for each of the four rings of old packing material. Once all of it was removed, I wrapped each new ring around the shaft and slid it into the packing nut, using the allen wrench to push it all the way in. Once all four new rings were pushed in, I removed the rag and screwed the packing nut back down. I tightened it by hand until it no longer dripped, and then used the stuffing box wrenches to set the stop nut tightly against the packing nut. The whole thing went very smoothly, and the bilge pump easily kept up with the inflow of water (it only turned on twice).

Now, about the Racor filter... I just changed the filter in April when recommissioning for spring. The bowl, however, had collected a fair amount of debris or sludge since then, so I drained the filter and cleaned the bowl. I wouldn't have changed the filter, but the o-ring between the filter and the bowl was shot. Next time I'll see if I can buy a spare o-ring at the hardware store, since the filters are expensive, and it probably didn't really need to be replaced. I reassembled the bowl and filter, filled them with filtered diesel, and put them back on. The engine fired right up, with no need to purge air from the lines.