Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Month: May 2011

Replacing the Cutless Bearing

So. Most of the online catalogs spell it ‘cutlass’ (as in the sword?). But I was assured it was ‘cutless’, as in doesn’t cut. Most of the searches I tried turned up the former. But when the device arrived, the package was using the latter.

Dave, one of my resident experts, suggested I might want to change it out before replacing the prop shaft in the boat. He recommended cutting it out with a hacksaw, being careful not to slice through the strut. Steve, another expert, suggested that, once the old one was out, I could take the strut to a local mechanic who, when I mentioned a mutual friend, would use their hydraulic to insert the new bearing. A third friend, Dan, said he had a bench press and thought we could use that to both remove the old bearing and insert the new one. So I headed over to Dan’s place one sunny Friday afternoon with the prop shaft and the old cutless bearing. He had the bench press set up and ready to go.

Dan with the press
The bench press is a small hydraulic, like you might use to change the tires on your car, mounted on a steel structure about 2-1/2 feet tall. The object to be pressed is placed on the shelf below the hydraulic. The stickers showed that it was indeed a commercial item, but I had never seen one before.

Dan found a socket that was about the outer diameter of the cutless bearing. We stood the strut up in the press and placed the socket in position on top. Then Dan slowly turned the control on the hydraulic. He stopped turning to check the progress. It seemed to be working. So he set it up again and turned again. The second time, however, it appears that things weren’t quite straight, and the device seemed to be curling the ends rather than pushing the bearing through.

A couple more times of repositioning and re-turning only seemed to make matters worse. So Dan took the strut out, put cardboard on the sides, and placed it in a bench vise. He then took a hacksaw, removed the blade, placed the blade inside the bearing, then reattached the blade to the handle. He sawed for awhile, then took the blade out. He took a hammer and a narrow chisel and started detaching the bearing from the strut at the cut. More cutting, turning the strut and chiseling on the other side. More cutting and chiseling, back and forth for probably about 1/2 an hour. The hard part seemed to be the very center, which didn’t want to detach, or was so far away (2 inches?) that it was difficult to reach with the chisel.

Chiseling it out

Finally, there was a breakthrough. Dan carefully chiseled a bit more to get the rest to curl in, making it easier to remove, and took the old bearing out. When we looked inside, we saw a small groove where his chisel had been. Interestingly enough, there was a much larger groove where the last person had removed the bearing.

We aligned the new bearing over the hole then placed a small piece of wood on the top. Dan then hammered the new bearing in.

It’s in there tight. It’s definitely not going anywhere! But the new one is slightly longer than the old one, and sticks out about 1/2 inch. Since that doesn’t change the line, it shouldn’t make a difference.

Inserting the new cutless bearing

Restuffing the Stuffing Box

Here’s another site I’d like not to lose. This author shows how to replace the stuffing in a stuffing box, complete with tons of pictures.


Long Time to the Simple Solution

I’ve finally reached the point when I can start working on the pieces leading up to the installation of the new electric engine. First stop in that regard is getting the 4 – 100# AGM batteries in place. These are taller (12″ vs 10″) and longer (13″ vs 8″ or 12″) than ‘conventional’ marine deep cycle wet cells. I wracked my brain, and those of several friends, to try to figure out a way to put the batteries forward in the engine compartment, making them easier to install and deal with. But every configuration we came up with left us short on space; we couldn’t find a way to fit all 4 without reconfiguring the stairs down into my cabin. And, as long as this years project has taken (2 months out of the water as of yesterday), I really didn’t want to add another carpentry project to the list.

So yesterday afternoon and this morning, I spent making cardboard cutouts to confirm the battery placement, before I started cutting wood. This afternoon, however, I had an ‘ah hah!’ moment.

Why not move the house batteries, leaving enough room for the engine AGMs right where we wanted to put them?

So I started looking at the lockers on each side of the engine compartment. They could easily hold the house batteries. I could then put two of the engine batteries where the house batteries were, put one battery ‘under’ the engine platform, forward of where the engine would sit. That would leave one battery that I hoped to put over the bilge. But, again, I ran into a height problem. So it will go on the port side, behind the engine and on top of the porside engine rails.

After all that planning and figuring, I was only able to get one house battery moved today. Tomorrow, I hope to get the second replaced. By the end of week, I’ll try to post pictures with the new configuration.


Boat Bucks and Boat Days

Boat projects are not measured in standard time or cost. Like third world country with volatile currencies and unstable governments, boat projects have their own scales. Cost overruns are a given. Time overruns are just to be expected. One boat buck approximates to $1000. One boat day (for a project) approximates to 5-7 days.

Why does this happen? Well, as sailors, we can chart the weather and waves to our heart’s content. But the tides are the only periodic constant in our calculations. Throw in the human factor (ourselves, others, life in general), and you just have to accept that the boat repair equation has more variables than we have equations to solve.

Take the story of CT, a friend who had his boat hauled out during my ‘on the hard’ period. He was just going to paint his bottom. He’d order the paint, had the boat taken out of the water, had his time set up for painting and expected to have his boat back in the water within a week.

What happened? Well, he ordered his paint. It didn’t arrive. He called the supplier who swore that he’d mailed the paint, but he would put another gallon in the mail that day. Surprise, surprise, only one gallon arrived – several days later.

Take my own situation, which I have alluded to. It has taken 6 weeks to get 4 coats of paint on the hull and deck, because I seem to have picked a very rainy period in which to do this painting.

I haven’t looked at the total cost for my project thus far. But I take consolation in the fact that it costs 5 – 8 boat bucks to paint the topside and deck and I know I haven’t spent that much out of pocket. I just received an estimate for unplugging the prop shaft, installing the batteries for the electric engine (4 – 100# AGMs), and mounting the engine: 5 boat bucks. So that one I’ll do myself, meaning I’ve just added boat days to the project.

Ah well! I now understand why the definition of a boat is a hole in the water in which you pour money. Or, in my case, time. Sigh!