Click for Cross Click for Nordhavn Click for Cheoy Lee Click for Llebroc Click for Lurssen

Shaft Seals and Cutlass Bearing Life Expectancy

Discussion in 'Props, Shafts & Seals' started by CaboFly, Mar 19, 2019.

You need to be registered and signed in to view this content.
  1. CaboFly

    CaboFly Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2018
    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Seattle
    After finishing up a number of winter maintenance items on the boat I was looking forward to using the boat as spring approaches and being done with projects for a good while. Well that isn't going to happen. I was fishing the boat in a little salmon derby this past weekend and since I had just completed a cooling system service on the MAN's and new risers along with other new hoses etc I was checking on the engine room more than normal to make sure everything was copasetic. All appears dialed but I did notice one shaft seal weaping a bit and also the other side just not as much. If it was August I would just let it ride but being early spring I want to tackle this. After making some calls and a few pm's last night I decided to order replacement seals from Sam's for the Bluewater Shaft seals. As I was thinking through how much fun it is going to be moving the shaft back and the coupler removal I though maybe I should replace the cutlass bearings? Question is how do I tell if they need to be replaced? Then I figure maybe I just pull the shafts and have both the Veem wheels spec'd to make sure they are at class S and also have the shafts checked.

    Where do I stop? I am pretty neurotic about the boat being dialed but I don't just want to go looking for projects. I need to decide if I just slide shaft back and change the seals or possibly go further. The shafts turn by hand and feel good. Performance is great. 2357 to 2370 respectively and 38 knots top end. I figured maybe I post a few pics and the brain trust on this great forum could perhaps give me some pointers on how to judge condition of the Morse cutlass bearings as well as tips on changing shaft seals.

    Appreciate the input.

    Attached Files:

  2. motoryachtlover

    motoryachtlover Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Messages:
    287
    Location:
    smithfield, VA
    Not a mechanic or expert but a fellow neurotic when it comes to my boat. Based on the pictures I think your Cutlass bearings look good for another season. You are looking for uneven wear so look at the front of the bearing as well. If you see a larger gap at the top of the cutlass that would be an indicator of uneven wear as well. Don’t know how much your shaft is dripping but with packing glands that can be an indicator of misalignment, bent shaft, or strut not being exactly where it needs to be. But if it is just a seal I think i would not bother with pulling the shafts. Looks like you may have to drop the rudders to pull the shafts. I cant remember if the die test can be done to the taper of the shaft in the field. If so, I would “die test” the shaft at the tapers to make sure there is no crack present. Good luck. Looks like a very well cared for boat.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    12,904
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    Lift up and down on the propeller and see if there is any play in the shaft (while connected to the engine). But to properly check, You measure the cutlass bearings between the shaft and the bearing at the top and bottom of the shaft with a feeler gauge and there should be a maximum of I think it's .008 but confirm this, on the front and back side of the cutlass bearings. They almost always replace cutlass bearings without dropping the shaft at the yards here. There is a hydraulic press that presses them out with the shaft still in the boat.

    I have one boat that cutlass bearings only go 2 years and most others where they go 5+ years. Make sure to grease the lip seals well.
  4. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    5,573
    Location:
    Miami, FL
    If the shafts turn by hand, it you have no vibration, if at the last haul out there was no play in the cutlass ... leave it alone!

    I wouldn’t loose sleep over a light dripping either. Keep an eye on them and unless it gets worst it can probably wait till the next haul out
  5. CaboFly

    CaboFly Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2018
    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks guys. Have feeler gauges and will check when I do haul out. I have attempted to find play in shaft during previous haul out but never felt any movement. Will continue to monitor. I am sure replacing the lip seal and getting coupler apart and off shaft will be plenty of fun. I gather from looking at running gear that with shaft just to inside of rudder I won't have to touch the rudder but I will have to pull the prop's to replace shaft lip seal correct? I doubt there is enough space between prop and rudder to slide shaft back to get coupler off?
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    12,904
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    I would imagine the props would have to come out to get the shafts back far enough, but you might get lucky, you only need enough room to slip the seal over the shaft.
  7. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Messages:
    8,919
    Location:
    Satsuma, FL
    It's going to take a good few inches to get the coupler off the shaft. Pending your shaft position to the rudders, center to the rudders or off set, you may have to drop the rudders to drop the shafts back far enough to get the couplers off. The pic looks like long couplers for a tapered shaft.

    Have you tried rinsing the seals and contact area of silt and a hardened stain line? Taking them apart and cleaning them up will let water in that your pumps should handle. Handle the seals gently and rinse off with incoming water. Wrap the shaft with wet/dry 1000 paper to clean up the shaft contact area.

    If you do replace the seals, install spares on the shaft.
  8. CSkipR

    CSkipR Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Messages:
    947
    Location:
    New Smyrna Beach, Fl
    Unfortunately with the Blue Water Seals you cannot put an extra seal on the shaft that was the reason I went with Tides.
  9. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Messages:
    8,919
    Location:
    Satsuma, FL
    Whisky Tango Foxtrot??
    You can't put a spare Blue Water Seal on the shaft? Why not?
    Thank goodness that I or my customers have not had these issues. This crap (no relation) would have been changed out ASAP.
  10. CSkipR

    CSkipR Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Messages:
    947
    Location:
    New Smyrna Beach, Fl
    IMG_0728.JPG
    You could put an extra seal on the shaft but you would not be able to insert it into the blue water housing because it is one round solid piece of steel that slides over the shaft. You have two bolts to remove the piece that houses the seal but you would have no way to slide new seal into it. My description is probably not the best I'll see if I can post a picture and you'll understand.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  11. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Messages:
    8,919
    Location:
    Satsuma, FL
    Thank you for the pic and your description. I understand all now.
    I see an engineering fix. I may come up with something after I complete shutting down my shops.
    Yep, I'm retiring ,, again..
  12. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,179
    Location:
    Cold Spring Harbor, NY
  13. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,179
    Location:
    Cold Spring Harbor, NY
    I think we would like your fix. I have thought of a beveled seal of maybe 60 degrees with a a solid adhesive for the lap. Take a little water, bend it on., glue it, and then sock it home again. No? Uncoupling that shaft every time is a PIA
  14. CaboFly

    CaboFly Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2018
    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Seattle
    As I look more at how much a PIA uncoupling the shaft will be and also that I am getting zero drips at rest it might be worth an overnight hang in my marina to do some inspection and clean up. I like Cap Ralphs idea but inviting salt water into my ER is more than my nerves can handle. With a few hours in the slings out of the water I can pull the 2 bolts that hold the follower against the lip seal and slide the lip seal up the shaft a few inches for inspection. Clean the area up with fresh water making sure the shaft is smooth then apply some grease on the lip seal and slide it back down the shaft and tighten things back up. Replace the water inlet hose and inspect for no obstructions. Lastly changing the zincs on the hull before summer wouldn't hurt. Worst case is if I see a fried lip seal I will know what the situation is before I haul out and go to a yard. I don't have enough specialized tools to go it on my own if I need to do props and shafts so I will talk to a few yards in Seattle if it comes to that. CSR has done me right in the past.

    I kind of like the solid follower and how overbuilt the set up is. While not being able to carry a spare on the shaft is less than ideal if you are in a bind and the lip seal fails you can use 1/2 inch packing gland and wrap that around then tighten down the follower to safely operate and get it fixed when convenient. If it was August or if I wasn't OCD I probably wouldn't need to do anything but the drip and not knowing what is going on inside the shaft seal is bothering me so I want to figure it out in April when boating season hasn't really started yet.

    Skip thanks for posting the pic and thanks to those who have commented. A lot of experience on this site. Also thanks to a few of the industry folks on here for the PM's. Much appreciated.
  15. SeaLion

    SeaLion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    181
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
  16. CaboFly

    CaboFly Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2018
    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Seattle
  17. SeaLion

    SeaLion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    181
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Too bad. That seal assembly looked pretty well built. Good luck!
  18. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2018
    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Cherry Hill, NJ
    How do you get the intermediary cutlass bearing out and a new one back in with out pulling the shaft? Is there a way to do this with out pulling the shaft?
  19. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    12,904
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    I don't know. Generally the intermediate bearings go twice as long as the cutlass bearings (near the propeller). It might be possible to press them out, slide them down the propeller shaft and press them through the strut near the propeller, but I don't know on that one. You'd have to ask a yard.
  20. Bill106

    Bill106 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    393
    Location:
    Beaufort NC
    Nearly all cutlass bearings come in two outside diameters per shaft size (if not more). If the builder thought ahead they used the smaller OD bearing in the intermediate strut so it will slide through the aft strut.