Tecktalk - Underwater Maintenance

Telltale Article - by George de Witte.

It was about a year ago this time when I was contemplating what had to be done before Whiskeydream could be splashed again in the water for Spring Launch. One of the items on the list was dealing with a leaking Stuffing Box that was overdue for replacement of the stuffing flax. The challenge is to apply the right amount of torque on the compression nut to strike a balance between leakage rate and prop shaft overheating. I had read the boat manual, but it did not provide much useful information. Huntermarine however runs a very efficient customer service department, so I fired off an email to their attention with the pertinent question. To my pleasant surprise they came back with a link to a website that turns out to be a gem of useful DIY boat information.  It is maintained by a Bob Pone and can be accessed at the following web address: http://catalog.com/bobpone/diyCover.htm. The article on replacing the flax in your stuffing box is excellent and I highly recommend you download it for future reference as I don’t think it is appropriate for the Telltale to reproduce it. 

Thru-Hulls and Sea-Cocks

The Bob Pone site also features an article about removal and re-installation of Thru-hulls and Sea-cocks. A crucial tool that is needed for this type of work is the so-called stepwrench. It is inserted into the outside part of the Thru-hull to hold it in place, while a second pair of hands torques the locking nut or Sea-cock on the inside.  You also need this tool if you just want to remove the Sea-Cock as you don’t want to break the seal between the Thru-hull and the hull itself while torque is applied to the Sea-cock.

Bob Pone suggests that you borrow the stepwrench from your friendly boatyard, but I don’t think that will fly in our part of the world. However I have seen a neat solution to the problem in my travels. It goes as follows: get your 3/8 inch drive hex socket kit and find a snug fitting socket for your thru-hull. Buy the cheapest one of the same size in your favourite hardware store. Using a hacksaw, a hammer, some strong pliers and a file, make two slots in the hex end of the socket to mate with the two ribs inside the thru-hull. When it is all done, it should look something like Fig 1. Perfection is not necessary as long as the slots are slightly wider than the mating ribs in the Thru-hull. Voila, with the ratchet drive of your socket set, you now have the perfect tool to tackle your thru-hull project. Only challenge left is to peel one of your buddies out of the bar as you really need a pair of extra hands for this type of work.

Step Wrench Alias