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Project Log:  Sunday, April 1, 2012

Earlier in the week, my new propeller shaft and coupling arrived, and as time allowed during the week I made a few advance preparations for their installation.  The shaft was 1-1/4" diameter and 60" long. 

My new engine came with a sacrificial plastic coupling, but I'd never liked the design of that particular brand of coupling, so I purchased a Globe Drivesaver in the appropriate size.  I like to use sacrificial couplings not only for the modicum of protection the add to the drivetrain, but also because they allow complete galvanic isolation (my own preference versus galvanic bonding) and also, frankly, make shaft and coupling installation (and future removal) much easier.

The steel coupling looked pretty and shiny now, but that wouldn't last, so I sprayed on primer and red paint to help protect the coupling against rust.

The original two-piece bronze stuffing box was in good condition, and I'd always intended to reuse it.  Half of the stuffing box was already--and essentially permanently--connected to the inside of the shaft log at a small transverse bulkhead in the bilge, and the second half, containing the packing itself, fitted into corresponding ears on the permanently mounted side.

The old packing and stuffing box hose were of course worn and ready for the junk heap, so I removed all the old packing--seven rings, suggesting that over the years more and more packing had been added as the original compressed, but without ever removing the old--and cleaned up the inside of the housing to accept new packing.


I chose graphite-impregnated Ultra-X packing, previous experience with which had proven it to be effective and nearly drip-free.  There was room for four rings of 5/16" packing.  After installing the packing, I slipped the stuffing box over the shaft to "set" the packing in place and compress it slightly around the shaft.


The design of the stuffing box, with its interlocking ears, required a specific length of stuffing box hose; the stock section I purchased was about an inch too long, so after marking the correct length on the hose I prepared to cut away the excess.  I considered striking some tape around the hose to ensure that I cut correctly, but foolishly decided I could easily keep my new, sharp hose knife straight as I cut around the hose.

Wrong.  Not only did I make a bad, angled cut, but worse, I ended up with a little flap of hose where the two misaligned cuts passed.  Sometimes I hated myself.  I knew better, and had ignored my instincts.  This rendered the hose useless, as far as I was concerned, and while it wasn't wasting the hose that bothered me, it was the fact that now I'd not be able to completely and permanently install the shafting and coupling on this day, as I'd need to order a new hose.  It was dumb, I was quite unhappy, and I don't want to talk about it any more.

In the event, I could at least use the ruined hose temporarily so that I could install the shaft and align the engine properly to it, which was the main part of the job anyway.  So I temporarily installed the stuffing box and slipped the shaft in, and temporarily installed the steel coupling so I could check--and adjust, if needed--the engine alignment.

The alignment was nearly spot-on from the beginning, but I thought I could tweak it just a bit.  Somewhere along the line, I made one adjustment or another, and suddenly things were way off; it took the remainder of the morning for me to get back to where it needed to be.  I should have left it the way it was initially; it was that good.

This had not proved to be one of my more efficient work days so far, but at least this job was basically done.  Once I got the new hose, I could button things up pretty easily.  With the alignment complete, I installed the Drivesaver on the transmission coupling.  Afterwards, I disassembled the coupling and stuffing box so I'd be ready for the new hose later.



To clear another unnecessary box from my pile, and expunge one more item from the to-do list, I went ahead and installed the propeller, a thankfully straightforward task.  I applied a little waterproof grease to the shaft taper and threads, then installed the propeller as needed.


Afterwards, I permanently installed the rudder, securing the two flanges together with new bronze bolts and nuts and reinstalling the collar over the rudder post that prohibited upwards movement.


Working again in the engine room had reinforced the need for some protective varnish on the new pilothouse woodwork.   All day, I'd been careful to avoid touching the bare cherry, so clearly my next task had to be beginning the varnish here.  More than that, I wanted to bring most of this area to its final coats of varnish, as until then I couldn't move forward with many of the boat's systems installations.

I masked off various areas of the console as needed, cleaned up the wood, and applied a sealer coat of varnish to all the bare wood in the console and dash areas.  The various bulkheads and panels had been sealed earlier.  I hoped to continue throughout the week ahead and apply more varnish to all areas of the pilothouse; while there was still plenty of trim to conceive, mill, and install, those pieces, many of which would be intentionally removable to serve as wiring chases, would come later, and I'd finish all of them separately off the boat.


Total Time Today:  7 hours

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