Monday, December 13, 2010

Rudder Shaft Seal Upgrade

The packing gland on the rudder shaft of my Hylas 44 never did prevent water from  coming into the boat; with rate of about a drop every 10 seconds, I wanted something drier; like no water ingress.

First I removed the rudder quadrant to access the packing gland flange and cleaned up both the removable flange, (top left in photo below) and the area to be resealed (left).  I obtained a double lipped seal with stainless steel spring for my shaft which was 2.25 inches. Measuring the flange which use to press down on the packing gland, (and now inverting that flange) the sleeve measured three inches. So a seal of 2.25 ID and 3.00 OD would do it. Then I obtained a reinforced hose of 3.00 ID. I used a silicone hose but you could use a good quality rubber hose.
Next, some hose clips and gasket maker and lithium grease. I used a silicone RTV type gasket maker for motor vehicles. Having removed the packing gland material, I started to assemble my new shaft seal. I only had about 2.75 inches of shaft to work with placing the seal on and the up turned packing gland flange took most of that.
I applied grease down the shaft where the packing gland use to sit and gasket maker to the surface of the flange where the upturned packing gland flange will bolt to.
Slid the flange over the shaft and mated the surfaces and secured with the four bolts.

Grease down shaft & gasket maker applied

As the bolts tightened the RTV squeesed out and I left this for 24 hours to set.
After the RTV had set, the hose was placed over the flange and I applied grease to the seal and inside the hose, pushing the grease as far down as I could get it. Then I cleaned out the surface area to where the seal would sit. This is going to have some of your favorite sealant applied here for the seal. Without the sealant, the seal will tend to slip out of the hose when pressure is applied to the hose clamp.The lower hose clamp was applied and I used my RTV sealant to the OD side of the seal and the ID of the hose. I slipped in the seal to the hose and applied the hose clamp loosely and left for 24 hrs to set before tightening a little bit more.
Finally, everything was reassembled and the boat placed back in the water. I now have a very dry rudder shaft. Now, if I can just get rid of the rain water that comes down the mast.
Grease applied before seal
Costs; $30 for the seal; $18 for the hose; grease and gasket maker $20. Hose clips I had already.
s/v Solace

Finished product


  1. Somebody gave me a tip the other day. Instead of the stainless steel loop spring on the inside of the double lip seal, you can use a large rubber "O" ring of the right size. This will prevent any chance of the SS spring corroding and becoming less effective.

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