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Thread subtitle "Saying 'Fuck' a Lot in New Zealand"

 

Back in April we noticed some water oozing in from the top of our rudder post. It actually wasn't as bad as it looks, as the corrosion was mostly surface and the locking ring was quite solid, but we didn't know that until it was cut off. Being cautious people, we decided it needed to be sorted before heading off shore. So we ordered new seal kits from Hallberg-Rassy (thanks for sending it UPS, BTW, they suck getting things through customs...took almost two weeks extra!) and made arrangements to get it dealt with. Dropping the rudder is outside my comfort zone.

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So we haul the boat and get the seals replaced. Incidentally we also put a new turbocharger and aftercooler on the engine at the same time because, well, efficiency and what the hell, it's only money.

Boat goes back in the water, everything looks good. No leaks, no drips and we're moving faster with less smoke now that the turbo actually spins again and doesn't shoot oil into the engine.

We sail from Tauranga to Opua - 180 miles - and start looking for weather to leave for New Caledonia. En route we checked the rudder...all good!

Then a couple of days after we get to Opua we notice this:

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See that little stream of oil coming down on the right?

Yup, days after we sailed the boat for 24 hours it started leaking oil from the brandy new seal at the top. No water though.

This morning, we spotted this - a little bolus of water in the oil.

20190703_082714.thumb.jpg.7da45fa96721a428e2914e1e8181b622.jpg

 

With the freezing-arse cold and humidity here in the NZ winter it's been practically raining inside the boat every morning, so it COULD be water from condensation.

But it has us worried.

Of course this completely buggers up our chances of catching the weather window for New Cal that is finally opening this weekend, if we assume heading off shore on a 950 mile trip to a non-English speaking country in the tropics with sub-excellent support, supplies and parts delivery isn't a good idea.

I don't even now if I'm just looking to bitch a lot or if any of you guys have any better ideas than "pull the boat out of the water again and rip all this shit apart to have a look" since we're rather stumped. The contractor that did the original seal replacement is six hours away and not easily involved again. While not washing their hands, their view is "we think we put it together right, so something else is probably wrong." And sending their guy up here from two hours south of Auckland will be on my nickel.

Here's a drawing what it's supposed to look like - the bottom set of rings. Because what the hell, why not? Been trying to sort this bullshit since April, though it's better here than in New Caledonia I suppose.

 

675242831_Rudder-HR46--HR53.thumb.jpg.48cb26544b05d8a577f7ec5a991a75c1.jpg

 

20190621_141040.jpg

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I have been a licensed and practicing engineer for almost 30 years.  I will freely admit to being socially awkward, nerdy, somewhat pedantic and slightly boring.  But when there is a problem to be sol

This is worth re-telling: An engineering student rode up to his buddy (also an engineering student) on a shiny, new bicycle.  His buddy says "Cool, new bike. Where'd you get it?" The Eng student

I've talked to a few people in the real world about this project, and several have had opinions on it. Several have also read this thread. The one thing they've all agreed upon is that Mooduster

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So there is no lower oil seal, the oil stays there because it floats?

Is it the correct weight oil?

correction, I can see the lower seal now, it’s a very small space, if it was overfilled the seals might hold it for a while, then let go if they balloon out.

how about lofting the top collar and taking a look at the top seal, you may be able to check it wasn’t damaged when the shaft was put back in, and also gently push the seal in if it is bulging upwards.

did the kit come with a plastic seal protector, like on the Volvo shaft seals? 

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I would also check with HR on want type of lubricant goes into the seal.

We have a similar setup on the prop shaft of our V40, an old type of seal made by Vetus.

they recommend a silicon based water pump grease, a prop shaft is  a different beast to the HR rudder post, but we had quite a hunt sourcing the right stuff.

B6EEE6CE-3345-44F6-8276-02205841DD46.thumb.png.1667e6ed1d7881bd0b6ab6ed13e8b33b.png

 

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That entire design is a complete abortion. Why anyone would install a rudder so that the top of the lower bearing was below the water line on a cruising boat is beyond me.

I'd be concerned about electrolysis problems if the seal was carried in a metal carrier or had an annular spring; neither should be used for this application - it should be all plastic.  HR should be shot for brass anywhere near the rudder assembly - but there it is clearly called out in the drawing.

Drop the rudder and remove the seal and figure out why it's failed. It would be super easy to ruin when installing in that disaster of a design. Once you understand why it's failed, fix the problem, which is the design of the seal.

Remember, a rudder stock has a shaft speed of zero. An oil seal is over kill for a prop shaft, they're prone to failure and then the oil leaks by quickly. This is an application for a grease cup with super heavy grease or, better still, flax packing.

 

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3 minutes ago, Moonduster said:

That entire design is a complete abortion. Why anyone would install a rudder so that the top of the lower bearing was below the water line on a cruising boat is beyond me.

I'd be concerned about electrolysis problems if the seal was carried in a metal carrier or had an annular spring; neither should be used for this application - it should be all plastic.  HR should be shot for brass anywhere near the rudder assembly - but there it is clearly called out in the drawing.

Drop the rudder and remove the seal and figure out why it's failed. It would be super easy to ruin when installing in that disaster of a design. Once you understand why it's failed, fix the problem, which is the design of the seal.

Remember, a rudder stock has a shaft speed of zero. An oil seal is over kill for a prop shaft, they're prone to failure and then the oil leaks by quickly. This is an application for a grease cup with super heavy grease or, better still, flax packing.

 

There is no brass anywhere in this.

This "disaster" has managed to not leak for 20 years.

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No, it's managed to leak twice in 21 years and it should leak at all for 50. The drawing clearly calls out a brass component - if it wasn't built to the drawing, that's new information.

That you're posting about it make evident that the design is fucked.

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46 minutes ago, savoir said:

Better to stay away from New Caledonia.  Nothing is cheap in that place . . . . . except coconuts.

New Cal is lovely, we can't wait to get back there.

But I wouldn't want to deal with a problem like this there.

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2 minutes ago, Moonduster said:

No, it's managed to leak twice in 21 years and it should leak at all for 50. The drawing clearly calls out a brass component - if it wasn't built to the drawing, that's new information.

That you're posting about it make evident that the design is fucked.

The handwritten note is wrong, its bronze. 

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1 minute ago, Moonduster said:

Everything about that design is wrong.

 

Which is completely irrelevant to solving the problem at hand, as I'm not planning to rework the entire ass end of my boat.

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Perhaps not, but trying to defend the design is asinine.

The fact is that an oil seal is the wrong solution for this application and you need to change the seal if its leaking. Replacing it with a 3rd seal of the same flavor is folly. The new seal failed for some reason, probably electrolysis but possibly due to eccentricity or lousy sealing surface on the shaft.

Either way, it's unlikely a new oil seal will do much better. Changing to a grease cup design is the least complicated approach.

 

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I'm not a fan of repeating a repair if the factory supplied item failed.  Moonduster may be (albeit a bit diplomatically) onto the best path.  Grease or a gland seems like a better solution, and parts may be available locally.

Another option that will likely get rejected is some of that miracle oil stop leak stuff.  I've had some remarkable success as well as failures with that stuff in times of crisis.

Does the shaft rotate in a circle, or an ellipse? 

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The good news is, your in the one of best countries in the world for boat repairs, and there's a favorable currency exchange rate.  

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I'm wondering if the bronze locking ring just loosened up a bit with use or, conversely, if the seal shrunk a bit with the cold temps. Either way, it would be a good idea to see that the ring is set as it's supposed to be.  

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- Before you think about hauling the boat, piling a few thousand pounds of stuff on the bow might get the seal out of the water.

- Ask HR if they have any thoughts

- is this a typical oil seal with a s.s. coil spring inside? If so they are easy to damage when installing like over the sharp edges of a keyway.

- is it really a "special" HR seal or does it look like this: Oil-Seal-BMC-TM140-Trucks.jpg_300x300.jp if so, an off the shelf seal from an bearing/seal supplier may work fine. Hard to imagine HR actually making special "HR seals" when an off the shelf solution may work

- I don't agree that an oil seal is bad here. Totally reasonable solution especially with a positive head of oil on it via that little hose. Is the little static head bottle still full? Mark a line on it and see if he oil level drops.

 

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A lip seal like that depends on very little radial play in the sleeve bearing. VERY little. Also, very good alignment of the top bearing to the bottom. If the top bearing floats on the screws somewhat, I might want to loosen them and see if it settles into better alignment with the bottom one. It is not inconceivable that the relationship changes from on the hard where the work was done to in the water. Also agree that getting the rudder in place without damaging the seal would be difficult to do reliably: very heavy rudder, must slide over surface that has been buggered by 6 set screws, a keyway, and probably more, very fragile seal lips. 

I don't like the design any better than MD. As a temp fix, I'd consider removing the barb fitting for the hose, replacing it with a grease nipple, and filling it. 

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1 hour ago, Zonker said:

- Before you think about hauling the boat, piling a few thousand pounds of stuff on the bow might get the seal out of the water.

- Ask HR if they have any thoughts

- is this a typical oil seal with a s.s. coil spring inside? If so they are easy to damage when installing like over the sharp edges of a keyway.

- is it really a "special" HR seal or does it look like this: Oil-Seal-BMC-TM140-Trucks.jpg_300x300.jp if so, an off the shelf seal from an bearing/seal supplier may work fine. Hard to imagine HR actually making special "HR seals" when an off the shelf solution may work

- I don't agree that an oil seal is bad here. Totally reasonable solution especially with a positive head of oil on it via that little hose. Is the little static head bottle still full? Mark a line on it and see if he oil level drops.

 

HR thinks something got screwed up when the seals were re-installed. The contractor that did it thinks they did the work fine, and there is some other issue, e.g. a problem with my rudder post.

They are most likely off the shelf seals, agreed. But they ARE the same seals that are used when the boat was built, so we're not guessing on size. There were a few other things we ordered as well, like that bronze retention collar, thrust bearing, etc. They seals weren't that pricey.

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4 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

There is no brass anywhere in this.

This "disaster" has managed to not leak for 20 years.

It's still a shit design. Sorry, but it is. Put me down as No 3 that thinks so.

For one thing if that clamp ring was a split 2 piece unit there'd be no need for set screws into the shaft and therefore no possibility of raised burrs.

Short term expedient, grease-fill it and keep an eye on it. Long term fix, re-engineer it.

FKT

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1 hour ago, DDW said:

A lip seal like that depends on very little radial play in the sleeve bearing. VERY little. Also, very good alignment of the top bearing to the bottom. If the top bearing floats on the screws somewhat, I might want to loosen them and see if it settles into better alignment with the bottom one. It is not inconceivable that the relationship changes from on the hard where the work was done to in the water. Also agree that getting the rudder in place without damaging the seal would be difficult to do reliably: very heavy rudder, must slide over surface that has been buggered by 6 set screws, a keyway, and probably more, very fragile seal lips. 

I don't like the design any better than MD. As a temp fix, I'd consider removing the barb fitting for the hose, replacing it with a grease nipple, and filling it. 

We didn't drop the rudder for this job, it was done in place with the rudder supported from below.

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8 minutes ago, alctel said:

Is that kind of oil seal common on rudder posts? I thought most used a stuffing box

HR has used it in a LOT of there boats in the 40-55 foot range. I don't know how common it is, but in spite of the derogatory comments about it they know what they're doing building bluewater yachts.

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That kind of seal is above my pay grade, considering the likely expenses I would either sail back to the original contractor place or try to find some kind of "expert" 3rd party for an honest advice.

The few drops might or might no be a big issue.

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2 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

HR has used it in a LOT of there boats in the 40-55 foot range. I don't know how common it is, but in spite of the derogatory comments about it they know what they're doing building bluewater yachts.

It really doesn't matter how many times you say that, it's still poor design.

FKT

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23 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

HR has used it in a LOT of there boats in the 40-55 foot range. I don't know how common it is, but in spite of the derogatory comments about it they know what they're doing building bluewater yachts.

I still reckon the problem is the oil is too light, on the pic it actually looks like ATF...

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4 minutes ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:
9 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

HR has used it in a LOT of there boats in the 40-55 foot range. I don't know how common it is, but in spite of the derogatory comments about it they know what they're doing building bluewater yachts.

It really doesn't matter how many times you say that, it's still poor design.

FKT

HR doesn't need me to defend them, and that's not what I'm doing. They've built a lot of boats and have a sterling reputation as a bluewater boat builder for a reason.

Is it the best? Probably not. Has it held out water for 20 years with zero maintenance on my part for the last 13? Absolutely it has.

I have confidence that HR knows what they are doing on this.

 

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8 minutes ago, olaf hart said:
32 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

HR has used it in a LOT of there boats in the 40-55 foot range. I don't know how common it is, but in spite of the derogatory comments about it they know what they're doing building bluewater yachts.

I still reckon the problem is the oil is too light, on the pic it actually looks like ATF...

Could be it. I hope it's something that easy.

 

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29 minutes ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

It really doesn't matter how many times you say that, it's still poor design.

FKT 

And it's really irrelevant, because I am not re-engineering the rudder column. I need to deal with the hand I'm dealt, not shit all all over my boat.

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25 minutes ago, Just A Skosh said:
1 hour ago, B.J. Porter said:

Is that what HR recommended?

HR didn't make a recommendation. It's what the contractor used.

I've asked HR about this oil, if it's OK. Time zone delays...NZ to Sweden...may take a day to answer.

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1 hour ago, B.J. Porter said:

And it's really irrelevant, because I am not re-engineering the rudder column. I need to deal with the hand I'm dealt, not shit all all over my boat.

Shrug.

What are the possibilities?

Oil too light - kind of doubt that if it's 80 weight but whatever. Fix - drain & heavier oil.

Still see oil leak/water droplets *and* it's definitely coming from the shaft seal? My suggestion - use grease. Don't over-pressurise it though or you'll definitely blow a seal.

Still leaks? Time to pull the shaft seal, check the seal(s) on the shaft and this time, drop the rudder enough to check on the area of the shaft you can't see. The reason I say this is, *if* the shaft is somewhat pitted over time, *and* this is what caused the original leak, that would completely explain why the new seal failed (if it has) so fast, and NOTHING short of changing the top seal design (which you've ruled out) or polishing the shaft/fitting a speedi-seal to it is actually going to stop the seals getting damaged again. That's assuming the bushings etc haven't worn sufficiently to be allowing the shaft to apply significant side-loading to the seals.

Your boat, your problem. This advice is worth what it's cost you. I build this sort of stuff, I don't know all the ways things can fail but I've seen a few.....

FKT

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Assuming you hauled the boat when you replaced the seals, and the upper and lower bearings have no play,  grease and those new seals are as good as it’s going to get, save removing the rudder and machining the shaft.

You should be able to inspect the top seal if you can raise the bronze collar, if the seal looks intact and the lip isn’t inverted  I would think it is good to go.

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2 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

It really doesn't matter how many times you say that, it's still poor design.

FKT

Good design is a relative concept.

A solution that is cheap as chips, super simple to execute will be good design in the eyes of a backyard amateur

A solution that is expensive, light, but hard to maintain will be good design in the eyes  of a racing team

A solution that is expensive, heavy and virtually unbreakable will be good design in the eyes of people doing the northwest passage

A solution that make their boat reliable and affordable will be a good design in the eyes of a mass production manufacturer

A solution that gives good feeling at the helm will be a good design in the eyes of a manufacturer of upmarket boats

etc....

All this to say that saying "it is poor design" of something that has worked well is far fetched. Being repairable anywhere by any contractor might not be part of the brief. Otherwise we would all sail steel boats with chines, transom hung rudders and masthead rigs.

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47 minutes ago, Panoramix said:

Otherwise we would all sail steel boats with chines, transom hung rudders and masthead rigs.

You said, I quoted it.  One more and the ghost of BS will appear !!!

Good post though :)

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7 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

We didn't drop the rudder for this job, it was done in place with the rudder supported from below.

Still had to get the seals over the rough and marred shaft, still have the upper/lower alignment change, still have 20 years wear in the lower bearing and associated radial runout. 

Remember too that it could be leaking around the shaft, but also around the shaft log. The seal is pressed into the tube, that interface must seal as well, could not have been inspected if done with rudder in, might easily have been marred in removing the old seal. With the lower collar raised (you will probably have to support the weight of the rudder somehow) wiping it very clean with solvent and keeping close watch you might be able to discover which is leaking. 

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11 hours ago, Windward said:

I'm not a fan of repeating a repair if the factory supplied item failed.  Moonduster may be (albeit a bit diplomatically) onto the best path. 

Based on his posting history here, I'd investigate any other conceivable possibility before following that path.

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9 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

It's still a shit design. Sorry, but it is. Put me down as No 3 that thinks so.

For one thing if that clamp ring was a split 2 piece unit there'd be no need for set screws into the shaft and therefore no possibility of raised burrs.

Short term expedient, grease-fill it and keep an eye on it. Long term fix, re-engineer it.

FKT

#4. When I first saw the photos, I said "Who the #@&% uses an oil seal on a rudder shaft, which has a range of motion of -- what -- 90°? And turns at max 5 rpm?" It's dumb. Good builders of stuff often include one or two features that just leave you scratching your head. This is one of them. That's a bad design. Its second failure offers a chance to overcome HR's mess-up (and we all make them). Or not.  But don't be too surprised if a year from now, you find that same puddle of oil & water around the collar. 

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I know it's not necessarily constructive at this point, but I would have to agree with the folks scratching their heads over the design.  I agree that you're obviously not going to reconfigure the whole thing where you are now, but it certainly warrants some thought down the line if you keep the boat.   

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Drain the oil, fill it with grease, or use grease to pump the oil out.  Have switched many difficult applications using oil for the lubricant where seawater ingess is possibility.  Check with HR on the switch.  Just want to make sure you don't over pressure and fold the bottom seal out more than it might be. Will still need a atmosphere vent.  Probably calcium food grade grease.  High tack.

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2 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Drain the oil, fill it with grease, or use grease to pump the oil out.  Have switched many difficult applications using oil for the lubricant where seawater ingess is possibility.  Check with HR on the switch.  Just want to make sure you don't over pressure and fold the bottom seal out more than it might be. Will still need a atmosphere vent.  Probably calcium food grade grease.  High tack.

How about Lubriplate?  

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3 hours ago, Diarmuid said:

#4. When I first saw the photos, I said "Who the #@&% uses an oil seal on a rudder shaft, which has a range of motion of -- what -- 90°? And turns at max 5 rpm?" It's dumb. Good builders of stuff often include one or two features that just leave you scratching your head. This is one of them. That's a bad design. Its second failure offers a chance to overcome HR's mess-up (and we all make them). Or not.  But don't be too surprised if a year from now, you find that same puddle of oil & water around the collar. 

Technically, I wouldn't could being improperly repaired as a "second" failure. I'd count it as part of the first one.

It's not like the initial seal repair lasted another 20 years. It lasted a week and one 24 hour trip...it wasn't fixed. So it's failed once and not been properly sorted once.

Whether it was the design (that worked 20 years), the repair (as HR suspects), the oil (which it may well be) or scoring on the rudder shaft (which the contractor suggested)...I've got to sort something on this.

Note that this rudder HAS been out of the boat - in 2008. It was actually nothing to do with the rudder; it resulted from a cutlass bearing replacement (don't ask...long story that doesn't end well and costs a lot of money).

It went back together without a hitch 11 years ago and didn't leak in that time.

However, looking at the picture from back then, there is some marking on the place where the lower bearing rests. Could be that's worse, causing the problem.

 

 

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/_LXP9Ql3RDXc/SA_4Z3cJCzI/AAAAAAAABjU/cAMP6vhHqLw/s1600-h/IMAG0006.jpg

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9 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Drain the oil, fill it with grease, or use grease to pump the oil out.  Have switched many difficult applications using oil for the lubricant where seawater ingess is possibility.  Check with HR on the switch.  Just want to make sure you don't over pressure and fold the bottom seal out more than it might be. Will still need a atmosphere vent.  Probably calcium food grade grease.  High tack.

When I asked about the oil the contractor used, they said it didn't seem likely the oil was too thing, suggested replacing the oil reservoir with a grease press like this:

https://www.marinepartseurope.com/sv/volvo-penta-sprangskiss-7745910-90-20442B.aspx

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I would not use a spring unit they are usually for unsealed open bearings.  Most likey the lip is folded on the seal or it has some debris in it. Since it hopefully does turn all the way around the odds of it clearing itself are low.  All you want to do is displace any seawater, Lubriplate FML2 or similar works well in seawater applications. Kind of a Goldilocks feel for flushing it and maintaining with out over pressure. If it's possible to raise the upper collar and seal assembly and slide up on the stock you can clean and pack with grease then slide back down. Use the oil head tank hose as a weep hole indicator.

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On our stern gland the grease firing is just a plastic tube on a threaded nipple with a zinc fitting clamped to the top, use a small grease gun to gently top it up.

that spring thing is just more stuff at boat dollars, much easier to use a remote fitting and a grease gun...

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So my options are evolving as...

1) Drain the oil, pack it with grease. See if the grease comes out. Maybe affix some sort of easy-to-grease maintenance system. This should be doable in the water, right?

Short term fix, might carry us until our next planned haulout which is in about six months to paint the bottom.

2) Haul it now. Open up the the thing again. Maybe replace the seals and try again, packing with grease.

Seems almost doomed to failure since it's repeating the same thing we tried once already, though we could in theory find a fuckup in the last install and fix it.

3) Haul it now. Pull the whole damned rudder out and inspect the shaft for damage. If no damage try it with grease. If damaged, we're talking big $$$ to...replace the rudder stock? Can it be machined?

Expensive AF. Taking this rudder off is a serious pain in the ass, as it involves glass work. Annoying design, but the rudder isn't falling out of this boat without massive damage to the stern. I'm gonna need a bigger visa (I've got until 7/30 to get out of dodge with this one).

4) Haul it now. Drop the rudder. Completely redesign the packing system for something that "doesn't suck".

Has all the joys of #3, plus finding someone to design a new solution that works better than the old one.

 

Am I missing any?

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Are you sure your oil head tank vent is clear?  Looking at the original pic it's certainly possible that a temp change, rudder load, pushed some oil out if the vent in head tank was not clear.  Best to check the simple stuff first.

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52 minutes ago, olaf hart said:

On our stern gland the grease firing is just a plastic tube on a threaded nipple with a zinc fitting clamped to the top, use a small grease gun to gently top it up.

that spring thing is just more stuff at boat dollars, much easier to use a remote fitting and a grease gun...

That should be Zerk fitting, damn autocorrect is out of control at the moment...

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I opt for no 1, you could also check that way that the bottom seal hasn’t inverted and maybe fix that as well.

A Zerk fitting on a plastic hose, and you are right to go.

interestingly, I checked the plans for our Adams, the rudder tube ends about one foot above the waterline, and it has a simple packed seal and a grease nipple on the tube, plans say to fill it with grease.

it has never leaked.

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29 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Are you sure your oil head tank vent is clear?  Looking at the original pic it's certainly possible that a temp change, rudder load, pushed some oil out if the vent in head tank was not clear.  Best to check the simple stuff first.

The leak is nowhere near the tank.

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Interestingly, I was looking up volvo seals as I want to replace the wierd one on our V40 with a Volvo seal if it plays up, all sorts of access issues with a V drive the Volvo will sort out and also I had one in the past with good results.

Anyhoo, I came across this, a Radice seal.

https://www.elicheradice.com/product-line/axial-seal-rmta-rtmo-type/

if you look at the pic, there is a white plastic thing which is the seal protector, I guess you just wrap it round the shaft when you slide it down. The Volvo one is thin plastic moulded to the shaft diameter.

You might be able to make this flat one out of a plastic shopping bag or somethinhg like that if you have to slide the seal over a rough area on the shaft.

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Something like this, suggested by the contractor, could keep a slight positive flow of grease in there.

https://www.skf.com/ph/products/lubrication-solutions/lubrication-systems/single-point-automatic-lubricators/gas-driven-single-point-automatic-lubricators/index.html

You can dial it out to dispense a small amount of grease periodically for up to 12 months. Disposable, it seems.

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1 hour ago, B.J. Porter said:

3) Haul it now. Pull the whole damned rudder out and inspect the shaft for damage. If no damage try it with grease. If damaged, we're talking big $$$ to...replace the rudder stock? Can it be machined?

Note that I'm not suggesting that you do this, but if it comes to it - depending on the shaft diameter there exists things called speedi-sleeves designed for exactly this purpose. Basically they're a very thin-walled stainless tube that slips over the worn area and is Loctited in place. The seal rubs on the sleeve. Very common fix for rotating shafts.

If you were local and needed such a thing and couldn't buy one I could make one. Price would depend on the diameter but it'd be less than $100 if I had some near to size material at hand.

I'd probably do the inspect then grease-fill way if there's nothing obvious wrong (folded seal lip etc) then keep an eye on it, pump more grease in etc.

Afterthought - yeah the shaft could be machined but this would be my absolute last resort as it'd need to be welded up - major distortion risk - then machined back to size, and *that* job would almost certainly require a horizontal boring mill not a lathe. I wouldn't do it myself, I'd rather change the seal design/system because it'd be cheaper and less chance of something really expensive going wrong.

FKT

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From the pic you posted it looks very much like a corroded shaft around the lower bearing .

With these designs your oil pipe is actually supposed to be a warning drain and the second seal is just the backup so you can plug the drain and get to the next haulout.

You are running on the backup seal already and the oil is not going to keep the seawater out of the growing problem area on the shaft, waterproof grease would have been best. But the system really has already failed. 

Dropping the rudder is not hard, the main work is chipping the filling compound away from the lower attachment and bolt recesses. It really needs to come out as you can end up with some serious crevice corrosion driven from trapped de-oxygenated sea water.


 

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4 minutes ago, MikeJohns said:

From the pic you posted it looks very much like a corroded shaft around the lower bearing .

With these designs your oil pipe is actually supposed to be a warning drain and the second seal is just the backup so you can plug the drain and get to the next haulout.

You are running on the backup seal already and the oil is not going to keep the seawater out of the growing problem area on the shaft, waterproof grease would have been best. But the system really has already failed. 

Dropping the rudder is not hard, the main work is chipping the filling compound away from the lower attachment and bolt recesses. It really needs to come out as you can end up with some serious crevice corrosion driven from trapped de-oxygenated sea water.

So that makes 5 people with boat building, machining and/or professional engineering experience saying basically the same thing.

FKT

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Today, there are bubbles in the oil.

I mention this because when I first contacted the contractor about the leaking, he suggested it might be cause by trapped air in the seal, causing a small leak as the air bubbled out.

I don't know if this is even a possibility or not, but here's a picture. Wouldn't that be a happy thing if he was right and that's all it is.

Not bloody likely.

bubbles.thumb.jpg.ae263375cbc7886053761a8bc4fa5493.jpg

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BJ, the vent on the head tank does not imply a leak at the head tank.  The head tank is supposed to breath to account for thermal expansion of the oil.  If the tank is not venting and the oil temp increases then the entire system will build pressure, a few PSI is alot, and oil will be pushed out at the weakest point, in this case it's possible the upper seal.  Before hauling the boat etc I would recommend cleaning the space make sure the head tank in at a minimum level and possibly remove the fill cap if the venting is uncertain.  Run the boat around a bit and see what happens.  The setup has proven reliable till now.  Eliminate all simple possiblities before committing to something big.

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It seems like the only thing you can inspect without disassembly is the hose and tank, removing the collar you can see the top of the top seal lip, but little else. 

I am quite curious as to how the seals were removed - especially the lower one - without dropping the rudder. Digging it out with tools has jeopardy, even for a brand new log and shaft. Cleaning and/or polishing the surfaces involved down in the narrow gap between log and shaft is impossible. Replacing the seals again without knowing what is wrong seems desperation. 

I'd try pumping it full of grease, as there is little to lose. You don't want a lot of grease pressure on there, just enough to fill it. You can do that with a cone shaped tip on a grease gun pressed against the barb fitting you have. A zerk fitting eliminates any feel on how much pressure you are putting in there and a grease gun can develop a LOT of pressure. Only trick would be getting most of the oil out. 

If you pull the rudder, I' carefully check the shaft for roundness as well as finish, and check the bearing for wear. A lip seal does not allow for much radial play. A sleeve as suggested above might be a solution - there is lots of farm and construction equipment built with these in place brand new, to be replaced when necessary as a service item. 

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Going to throw in my tuppenceworth if you don't mind.

You didn't drop the rudder, so the only way to fit new seals - assuming they are lip-type per Zonker's image, or O-rings - is to remove the upper bearing housing, along with a quadrant or whatever else you have on the shaft. Am I correct thus far?

First question: How did they remove the existing seals? If they really are lip seals, that's a tricky operation.

Lip seals tend to harden over time, and they also tend to cut into the shaft leaving a perceptible groove. As HR's drawing suggests, there is a strong chance of injuring the new seals, whatever type, by failing to protect them while one "hoved" them over the (likely various) marks in the shaft. Sometimes a plastic or metal sleeve is used to protect the lip during this process.

Before even trying to put the new seals in, I would think that 10mm is enough space to  fit a pinky finger in and feel for burrs and/or grooves.  Not sure if this was done.

Second question: How were the new seals fitted? If lip-type, I hope they had a suitably long piece of 90mm x 98mm pipe to drive them into the tube. Otherwise, how did your contractor manage this feat? Were you observing? Whether lip or o-ring, it's not a job for bludgeoneers. Were they the right way up? (Sorry, but these things happen).

What's the bottom ('skeg') bearing construction, BTW? Bronze or HMWPE maybe?

I concur with many of the previous posters that the best solution given your current location would likely be to fit a grease cup or nipple (apologies for using the pornographic British term), and pump it full of some thick goop.

Hope you get it sorted 'well enough' B.J. 

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2 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

Expensive AF. Taking this rudder off is a serious pain in the ass, as it involves glass work.

Sounds like HR needs a new rudder design staff.

I've never heard of a rudder that couldn't be removed without doing glass work.

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48 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

Sounds like HR needs a new rudder design staff.

I've never heard of a rudder that couldn't be removed without doing glass work.

There almost no way this rudder falls off the boat without removing most of the stern in a violent accident.

But, look at that bottom section where the little bit or post shows:

IMAG0006.jpg

That bottom bit of post goes into a whacking big bronze bearing assembly that goes on like this:

illustrted_bearing.thumb.jpg.388193ed3894ec8a58938c5d13a010a9.jpg

That ginormous bronze bearing assembly with twelve through bolts is the encased in glass to protect it. You can't really see the bronze bearing assembly thing (or "Rodermalja") when it's all put together because it's under the skin.

Your skeg-ish thing looks like this when you pull that bearing thing off:

image.thumb.png.d3f03cc0b2ebfb1334edc8aaa3bad6eb.png

So it's very strong and very tough, but a pain in the ass to get off.

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The lower casting has to split, as does the lower bearing? Makes a spade rudder seem oh so simple.

And lining all that stuff up perfectly concentric with two lip seals all the more complicated. Is the top bearing (or I guess #2) bronze? So bronze on stainless with just water as lubricant for 20 years?

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2 hours ago, SASSAFRASS said:

BJ, the vent on the head tank does not imply a leak at the head tank.  The head tank is supposed to breath to account for thermal expansion of the oil.  If the tank is not venting and the oil temp increases then the entire system will build pressure, a few PSI is alot, and oil will be pushed out at the weakest point, in this case it's possible the upper seal.  Before hauling the boat etc I would recommend cleaning the space make sure the head tank in at a minimum level and possibly remove the fill cap if the venting is uncertain.  Run the boat around a bit and see what happens.  The setup has proven reliable till now.  Eliminate all simple possiblities before committing to something big.

I'll give it a try.

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32 minutes ago, DDW said:

The lower casting has to split, as does the lower bearing? Makes a spade rudder seem oh so simple.

And lining all that stuff up perfectly concentric with two lip seals all the more complicated. Is the top bearing (or I guess #2) bronze? So bronze on stainless with just water as lubricant for 20 years?

As far as I can tell, yes.

The lower casting does split.

 

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When you do haul out if the issue hasn't been resolved. In applications where a lip seal is on a SS shaft the shaft will typically get a groove in it where the seal rides.  The normal repair is to undercut the worn area and flame spray then machine back to spec.  Machining a rudder stock is not the end of the world you just need to make sure the yard has internal or nearby facilities to accommodate.  Your rudder is small enough to probably get into a larger mill to cut the stock.  Hopefully it all works out for you 

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So, the plan, as it is....

1) Drain as much of the oil out of between the bearings as I can without sinking the boat.

2) Pack it with grease without over pressurizing, using a grease gun and gentle pressure.

3) Stick one of these on it, which will slowly add grease over the next 6+ months, to be sure.

https://nz.rs-online.com/web/p/products/0506725/?grossPrice=Y&cm_mmc=NZ-PLA-DS3A-_-google-_-PLA_NZ_EN_Catch_All-_-Fusion-_-PRODUCT_GROUP&matchtype=&pla-470100252436&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpPHoBRC3ARIsALfx-_LNsEWi_Y8nbes4XhdoulU3vauZOSKIh_ljCA8jy_G4e1RCPZZzpdQaAsGUEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

4) Wait a couple of days to see if oil/water leaks out.

5) If yes, go get hauled out and rip all this shit apart. Otherwise, go sailing, then rip all this shit apart in the spring when we come back and pull to paint the bottom anyway.

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31 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

When you do haul out if the issue hasn't been resolved. In applications where a lip seal is on a SS shaft the shaft will typically get a groove in it where the seal rides.  The normal repair is to undercut the worn area and flame spray then machine back to spec.

Umm, yeah. I'd like to see that if the rudder blade is still attached...... Who thinks rotating the shaft in a lathe with a big unbalanced load on the end is a good idea? This is the conventional way of turning the shaft back to round. It's not gonna work with the blade attached. It'd be simpler to build a new rudder than try to free the shaft from the blade.

This problem is precisely why I specified using a horizontal boring mill for this job. And that as a bloody last resort because it'd be a right PITA to set it up and PITA = $$$$.

I say this as someone who *has* a horizontal boring mill (in fact I have 2) and has done stuff like this - not on a rudder shaft, but turning the outside of a shaft - with stuff welded to it preventing it being swung in a lathe - to bring it back to size.

FKT

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Hmmm. I'm guessing you're evading my questions because you don't know/trust me. Or, you are one of those chaps with a diametrically opposed skillset to mine, and can't/won't answer.....? If it helps, I'm hopeless at at least half of the things you do well. Probably more. I do know how to fix boats in third-world countries though, and I concede that you do other, different, worthwhile things too. If we all knew the same shit life would be interminably dull.

Completely understand your reluctance to doubt a builder that has a rep like HR. On the other hand, I have worked under other 'high rep' builders, so know how the shit goes down. If the drawing you posted is the full extent of the info HR supplied, I am both saddened and unsurprised. Boatbuilders are funny fuckers.

Hope you get both short and long term solutions, nonetheless.

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36 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

So, the plan, as it is....

1) Drain as much of the oil out of between the bearings as I can without sinking the boat.

2) Pack it with grease without over pressurizing, using a grease gun and gentle pressure.

3) Stick one of these on it, which will slowly add grease over the next 6+ months, to be sure.

https://nz.rs-online.com/web/p/products/0506725/?grossPrice=Y&cm_mmc=NZ-PLA-DS3A-_-google-_-PLA_NZ_EN_Catch_All-_-Fusion-_-PRODUCT_GROUP&matchtype=&pla-470100252436&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpPHoBRC3ARIsALfx-_LNsEWi_Y8nbes4XhdoulU3vauZOSKIh_ljCA8jy_G4e1RCPZZzpdQaAsGUEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

4) Wait a couple of days to see if oil/water leaks out.

5) If yes, go get hauled out and rip all this shit apart. Otherwise, go sailing, then rip all this shit apart in the spring when we come back and pull to paint the bottom anyway.

Yeah, sounds like a plan. If it's only a teeny tiny seep remaining you can probably live with it for the time until next haulout anyway. Not like the chances of a sudden catastrophic & total failure of the seals is real likely. More like, if the seals are worn due to a rough/pitted shaft area, the leak will slowly get worse and the grease should hold it. In fact if the bottom seal is worse than the top seal maybe the grease will squeeze out the bottom gaps. That's what happens on my rudder stock tube but it comes up above the water line and has a midpoint grease nipple so water can't get into the boat regardless of presence/absence of grease.

FKT

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2 minutes ago, seabell said:

Completely understand your reluctance to doubt a builder that has a rep like HR. On the other hand, I have worked under other 'high rep' builders, so know how the shit goes down.

Keels, for example, have *never* been known to break off of boats from big boat building firms - have they?

Not aimed at H-R at all, just an observation about trusting the boat builders to get engineering right in the longer term.

FKT

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3 minutes ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

Keels, for example, have *never* been known to break off of boats from big boat building firms - have they?

Not aimed at H-R at all, just an observation about trusting the boat builders to get engineering right in the longer term.

FKT

Boy, that's close to the bone. But at the same time, exactly right.

I left those crustacean MFs as soon as could get a better job. Voluntary unemployment fitted well.

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1 hour ago, B.J. Porter said:

So, the plan, as it is....

1) Drain as much of the oil out of between the bearings as I can without sinking the boat.

2) Pack it with grease without over pressurizing, using a grease gun and gentle pressure.

3) Stick one of these on it, which will slowly add grease over the next 6+ months, to be sure.

https://nz.rs-online.com/web/p/products/0506725/?grossPrice=Y&cm_mmc=NZ-PLA-DS3A-_-google-_-PLA_NZ_EN_Catch_All-_-Fusion-_-PRODUCT_GROUP&matchtype=&pla-470100252436&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpPHoBRC3ARIsALfx-_LNsEWi_Y8nbes4XhdoulU3vauZOSKIh_ljCA8jy_G4e1RCPZZzpdQaAsGUEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

4) Wait a couple of days to see if oil/water leaks out.

5) If yes, go get hauled out and rip all this shit apart. Otherwise, go sailing, then rip all this shit apart in the spring when we come back and pull to paint the bottom anyway.

 

As I posted before the main point is that it's already failed and apparently failed a while ago. your oil feed pipe is supposed to be a drain not an oil feed. When the drain starts dripping you note the failure, plug the drain and repair the lower seal promptly at the next haul-out. The top seal you have leaking now is supposed to be the temporary backup seal.

These get bodged up to try and overcome the hassle of the repair. The lower seal leak isn't fixed and inevitably the shaft corrodes. It's a classic situation where you get small amounts of trapped de-oxygenated salt water that leads to some very fast pitting. I'd guess that's why the lower seal doesn't seal. 

The Oil-feed is totally useless if the lower seal doesn't seal. Grease might keep you running for a while but the shaft could have some nasty stress risers from crevice corrosion.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, seabell said:

Hmmm. I'm guessing you're evading my questions because you don't know/trust me. Or, you are one of those chaps with a diametrically opposed skillset to mine, and can't/won't answer.....? If it helps, I'm hopeless at at least half of the things you do well. Probably more. I do know how to fix boats in third-world countries though, and I concede that you do other, different, worthwhile things too. If we all knew the same shit life would be interminably dull.

Completely understand your reluctance to doubt a builder that has a rep like HR. On the other hand, I have worked under other 'high rep' builders, so know how the shit goes down. If the drawing you posted is the full extent of the info HR supplied, I am both saddened and unsurprised. Boatbuilders are funny fuckers.

Hope you get both short and long term solutions, nonetheless.

The new seals were slid down from the top.

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2 hours ago, MikeJohns said:

 

As I posted before the main point is that it's already failed and apparently failed a while ago. your oil feed pipe is supposed to be a drain not an oil feed. When the drain starts dripping you note the failure, plug the drain and repair the lower seal promptly at the next haul-out. The top seal you have leaking now is supposed to be the temporary backup seal.

These get bodged up to try and overcome the hassle of the repair. The lower seal leak isn't fixed and inevitably the shaft corrodes. It's a classic situation where you get small amounts of trapped de-oxygenated salt water that leads to some very fast pitting. I'd guess that's why the lower seal doesn't seal. 

The Oil-feed is totally useless if the lower seal doesn't seal. Grease might keep you running for a while but the shaft could have some nasty stress risers from crevice corrosion.

 

 

 

 

 

I guess I'm confused, because I'm not totally sold that 1) the bottom seal is failed and 2) the top seal is completely failed and can't be stopped short term with replacing grease rather than oil.

The seals were replaced about three weeks ago, so "failed a while ago" confuses me.

 

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