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Old 04-23-2015, 10:40 AM
cdhickey cdhickey is offline
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It started as a simple Cutless bearing replacement...

It started as a simple Cutless bearing replacement… and turned into a full-on, transmission-back overhaul. I thought I’d post up my experience in case in can be helpful to anyone else contemplating the same.

After lift-out last fall, I noticed a little play in my Cutless bearing and added this to my list for replacement. My approach to a project of this sort is to always try the easiest option first, no matter how naïve that may be. Here are what the steps turned out to be:

1. Prop Removal. Wrestle and curse at removing my two-blade folding prop. The most difficult part proved to be removing the folding wings to give access to the set screws retaining the prop, as the pins just didn’t want to budge. PB Blaster, heat, and some gentle (and not so gentle) tapping finally broke them free. A few quick turns with a homemade prop puller (two small pieces of 2x4 and a couple of 12” threaded rods) and the prop came off without much trouble.

2. Remove Bearing – First Attempt. The internet (and dockside chatter) told me that removal of the Cutless bearing is theoretically possible with the prop shaft in place. I didn’t have access to one of the fancy tools designed for this purpose, so I tried a progressive approach of a properly sized tube and hammer, followed by a press rigged up using my prop puller. Neither resulted in anything other than frustration and distrust of the internet.

3. Remove Prop Shaft- First Attempt. So if we can’t budge the bearing with the prop shaft in place, it means the bugger has to come out. This is what I was afraid of, as I don’t have much room to work behind the engine and it looked like a rusted beast of a coupling. In what was probably the most laughably optimistic part of this whole project, I removed the prop set screws and gave the shaft a tug. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the angels laughing.

4. Remove Prop Shaft- Second Attempt. Okay, let’s get this done using the textbook method of pressing the shaft out of the coupling. I sprayed the coupling bolts with a bit of PB Blaster, and they came out without much trouble. However, because of the configuration of my stuffing box I could only slide the assembly back by about an inch- not enough to get a socket in there, and not enough to properly place any other sorts of spacers. I tried getting washers, dimes, bolts, nuts, and just about everything else in place, but it was an exercise in futility. Sigh.

5. Remove Prop Shaft- Third Attempt. Okay, so something is going to have to get cut here. Given the difficulty of removing my coupling, I wanted to make sure that the next time would be a bit easier and the split coupling from Moyer looked like a great solution. If the coupling was to be replaced anyways, I might as well sacrifice that to the grinder gods to get the shaft out. My first approach (don’t laugh) was my cordless Dremel and a pile of metal cutoff wheels. I made admirable progress with this, but couldn’t get fully through the flange. Next up was the trusty angle grinder, but I still couldn’t get fully through the flange because I was still less than an inch from the transmission output and was trying not to destroy the shaft in the process. I tried to use a cold chisel to open up the cuts that I could get, but still no luck. I came to the realization that trying to get the coupling off was going to result in serious damage to my shaft, transmission output, soul, or all three. Double sigh.

6. Remove Prop Shaft- Fourth Attempt. So my options at this point were limited, which made the choice easy- the prop shaft would have to be cut. Armed with an angle grinder and a bit of determination, the prop shaft was free within a minute and I felt like a God. Once I got it out, I could see just how scored it actually was, so it may not have been such a bad outcome after all.

7. Remove Bearing – Second Attempt. With the prop shaft on the ground and my credit card burning, I set out to do what I started- replace the bearing. A few hacksaw cuts and a bolt in the set screw hole managed to collapse the old bearing, after which it came out with a bit of persuasion from needle nose vice grips It was also at this point that a fellow C&C owner suggested that I could have just removed the strut. I went back a cried over the pieces of my broken shaft.

8. Install Cutless Bearing. I had officially crossed from the destruction phase to the rebuilding phase! With a bit of help from a threaded rod and washers, the Cutless bearing went in fairly easily. I’m getting good at this boat maintenance stuff.

9. Install New Stuffing Box Hose. With the entire arse out of my boat, I figured I might as well replace anything else that may give me grief. I don’t want to be doing this again any time soon. The stuffing box hose was of an unknown vintage, so I replaced it with some much better looking Buck Algonquin hose and clamps. I also cleaned up the stuffing box and put some fresh new packing in there.

10. Install Prop Shaft and Coupling. When the prop shaft and coupling were ready, I encountered the problem of trying to install the coupling on the shaft in very tight quarters. Through dumb luck, I managed to get the shaft lined up and pushed it into the coupling from the outside, adjusted the depth and torqued it up. Initial alignment looked okay, but when I went to bolt it in place I discovered that the flange on the Moyer split coupling is about ¼” narrower than the one it was replacing, and as a result the bolts were too long. I couldn’t find any stainless bolts in 3/8-NF, but I did get some Grade 8 bolts that were a bit shorter and made for a perfect fit.

11. Install New Prop. With everything else new and shiny, I decided to replace the old prop as well. I’ve been looking at the Indigo prop for a while, so this was the time to pull the trigger on that purchase.

So after about 6 weeks and $800, I find myself with a beautiful new drive train. Here are a few lessons learned for those bored enough to still be reading this:
- If I had my time back, I may have just tried to remove the strut to replace the Cutless bearing. However, with the condition of the stuffing box and prop shaft I may have ended up doing all this work in the near future anyways, so I’ll call it a wash.
- Cutting off the coupling to save the shaft is very difficult. It may be possible if you have lots of room and good access, but even then you’ve got a good change of damaging the prop in the process.
- The split coupling is a thing of beauty. I was a bit concerned about the fit at first, but when paired with the new shaft it was a perfect tight slip fit. Note that you may need shorter bolts, and the design makes it impossible to get a socket on the bolts- an open ended wrench will be required.

And here are a few obligatory pics:
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S/V Seeker
1972 C&C 30
Terra Nova Yacht Club, Holyrood NL

Last edited by cdhickey; 04-23-2015 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-23-2015, 10:53 AM
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Al Schober Al Schober is offline
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Let me be the first to offer you a hearty 'well done!'. You had to put up with some adverse conditions (I've never seen and engine so close to the stern tube), but persevered. You'll be enjoying the fruits of your labor long after the wounds to your credit card heal.
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Old 04-23-2015, 11:52 AM
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Whippet Whippet is offline
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Piece of Art

Hi Chris

Besides your fortitude as a weekend mechanic, your written account was a piece of art. When is your novel coming out?

Thanks for thoughtful post, because one day my C&C 27 may require the same path. Yep, it's a tight squeeze down there. Not a job for claustrophobics.
Etobicoke YC, C&C27
A4 #204381, 1980
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Old 04-23-2015, 12:06 PM
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Trés 30 Trés 30 is offline
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Thumbs up $800!!

That's less than $150 a week! Sounds like a bargain to me! And you get a month to pay off your credit card . Well done indeed

I hope I'm as lucky, this work is looming on me as well.
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Old 04-23-2015, 12:56 PM
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You can work on my boat anytime.

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Old 04-23-2015, 01:33 PM
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CalebD CalebD is offline
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Great write up!
Your cutless bearing replacement went about as smoothly as mine did a few years ago only mine started in November and ended in late March. Persistence and a plan A, B & C are often necessary.
Tartan 27 #328 owner born 1958
A4 and boat are from 1967
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Old 04-27-2015, 03:27 PM
dmartis dmartis is offline
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Thumbs up I feel your pain


I felt your pain after reading the story of your cutless bearing replacement. I just finished the same project on my C&C 27, which is essentially the same boat as yours.

I went through the same agony of reading information on line about pressing the shaft out of the coupling. I had some success using a socket. After a few weekends of contorting myself into cockpit lockers, it eventually bound on the keyway, rendering it useless. Two minutes with a reciprocating saw to the old shaft made me wonder why I wasted my time, as I also found the old shaft worn.

Pressing the new cutless bearing in was easy - a 3/4-in. threaded rod with washers and grease made me feel like a true millwright.

I agree the Moyer split coupling is a thing of beauty, making the reinstall a piece of cake.

I used the Buck & Algonquin hose for the stuffing box, although I upgrade to T-bolt type hose clamps - anyone have any opinion on T-bolt versus regular hose clamps?

My C&C 27 also has an aluminum bracket that fastens to two stringers on either side of the gland. The bracket slips over the spud nut, though I'm not sure what the purpose of this is. Anyone have any thoughts on the matter?

I just reinstalled the shaft yesterday (with shorter bolts too). Did you need to check the clearance between the couplings to make sure they are aligned? Do I need to do this?? Or since the engine didn't move, everything should be in the same spot?
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Old 04-27-2015, 07:36 PM
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pknier pknier is offline
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can relate to cutlass bearing replacement

Just got home from the boat after a day of removing the accessory drive and replacing the oil seal. Then started the cutlass bearing and rear oil seal replacement. On a Morgan 35, cutting the shaft provides little advantage in the long run. We ended up disconnecting all mechanical, cooling and electrical from the motor, removing engine mount nuts, and lifting the motor off the bolts and tilting the motor far enough the shaft could be removed. Found that the shaft was worn where it rotates in the bearing so tilting the motor has to be done to install the new shaft, no other way. We were able to remove the bearing by cutting the bearing in 6 places the length of the bearing, then chiseling a slot out between two of the cuts...then clamping a vise grip on and rotated it out. actually accomplished much easier than expected. Can not find any evidence of set screws though... the inside of the housing is perfectly smooth. Now i have to have a new shaft machined and start reassembly. I can relate to what you went through!
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Old 05-02-2015, 12:48 PM
cfergu22 cfergu22 is offline
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I've just gone through almost the exact same process on our 1974 C&C 30. We had excessive vibration and a egged out cutlass bearing. We had the Yard do all the work on the shaft. It had to be shortened and Straightened and fit to a new coupling. Whoever replaced the shaft in the past had it extending 1 foot past the strut so we thought that was causing early wear on the bearing.

We had a problem with some work the P.O. had done around the shaft log. It restricted us from putting a new hose on so we had it all ground away. This was the first time we've paid anyone to do work on our boat. Between the shaft work, cutlass bearing and the work to get a new hose on there it ended up costing us way more than expected. The nice part was it took them a week and would have taken me more than a month all while paying daily fees to have it on the hard.

The vibrations have definitely gone down but I'd like to get them better, I'm going to start another thread with questions on alignment.

Dmartis - we had the same bracket going over our packing nut. I always assumed it was there to help out loosening the nut to replace the packing but our was worn away and not in the correct spot so we took it out.
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