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re-packing a stern gland

I am about to re-pack the stern gland on my boat. When I was on an RCR boat maintiance course, I was given some tips on how to remove any old packing from around the prop shaft. Is it really neccessary to remove any old packing or could I simply add some more? My thought is that if old packing was left in place then I wouldn't need to worry about water flooding in through the bearing before I could get new packing in place. The packing that has been used previously is a type of impregnated rope cut into short lengths.

Asked by: David Stebbens  | 6.00pm, Wednesday 19 January

WW says:

For a good seal, you really need to remove the old packing- and it shouldn't be too hair raising. Most bilge pumps will cope, and, provided you have the packing ready cut and on the shaft, should be fairly quick before the water gets too high!
The RCR course you attended (probably run by Tony Brooks) does show the correct way!
If you leave the old packing in, it can harden, to the extent that the shaft could become scored, with the consequence of more water coming in. You might also push it against the aft lip seal on some types of stern tubes, which can cause localised heating, and damage to the shaft.
One way to reduce the inflow of water is to stuff a "lightly greased" (use stern tube grease) cloth around the shaft, just behind the propellor, on the wet side! This can slow the inflow of water, just take care to remove it before you start the engine again!

Mark Langley  | 7.49PM, Wednesday 19 January

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