More on the Prop Shaft Coupling

Dear Fred,

I have just become a new member to the BSLOL Chapter, receiving my first copy of the Boathouse. You can’t imagine how pleased I was to see you were alive and well. I can’t believe it — you of all people, contributing to the understanding, knowledge and experience of maintaining our engines. You used to be so shy and introverted when we were kids. You know, as I think back, it’s been since high school that we last saw each other, almost 35 years now. You haven’t made it back to Lowlands High for any of the reunions. I had heard that you went to the top of the mountain for your quest in the understanding of motor science. Your quest for your personal isness and oneness, of how engines and the spirit join symbiotically within the soul, being one with and the Zen of engine maintenance. I wish I had you with me while traveling across country so many times in my VW Micro Bus. No matter how many times I tried to be one with that thing, there was always something going wrong.

So, now you live in Minnesota. How are your sisters and brothers? Do they live here too? How about your parents, are they still living on the old homestead? Can I really fix my own engine and mechanical problems? Have you heard from Linda “Moon Blossom” Lovejoy, or any of the gang from back home? Can you fix VolksWagons too? How is it you are in Minnesota? What kind of boat do you own? Does E really equal M/C squared. What is at the top of the mountain? Oh, we have so much to catch up on. Remember the time we went out with the Angelino Twins? Man do I even dare to think about that night again? How do I get a hold of you? Where did you finally graduate? What about old power vs new? Does electronic ignition really work? How do I adjust my transmission? Do old boats leak?

Who really is Denny Smith, and why does he only have one “n” in his name Denis? Oh, I could go on and on. It sure feels good to know you are around to answer a couple of questions.
Yours truly,
Bobby “Big Bong” Bitzco (now kinda bald)

Dear Bobby.

Bobby, could there possibly be any more questions to ask? Peggy, don’t you screen out some of these letters? Please, help me out; send him a copy of all the Dr. Motorhead back issues.

You might all be wondering why I didn’t finish my last article and talk about the little black hose connected to the stuffing box and the shaft log. Here is why, I ran out of time.

To remove the flexible connection you need to remove the propeller shaft from the boat. This can be really easy or really difficult, there is no in between. Before you can remove the shaft from the boat you need to remove the flange from the shaft. This is the tricky part. In many old boats these two pieces have been attached for a long, long time. The flange is built from a ferrous iron. The shaft is made of either bronze or stainless steel. The result is two dissimilar metals joining and creating a galvanic reaction. In plain terms, they react to each other and get fused together, similar to a rusty bolt. One piece doesn’t want to let go of the other. Generally there is not enough room down there to use a flange puller. With a block of wood or a brass hammer, try and knock the flange from the shaft by banging gently but deliberately on the flange. It will help to have a piece of wood between the prop and strut to keep the flanges (transmission and shaft) apart from each other while attempting this. Another way is to install a fairly large nut between the two flanges and tighten them together using the flange bolts. This forces the shaft out as the flanges come together.

Be careful not to break your flanges. Tighten each bolt in small increments to create equal pressure around the entire flange circumferences. The use of a torch to heat up the shaft/flange works, keeping in mind the dangers of an open flame in your boat.

I know this guy who tried everything and could not get the flange off. He worked on it for a couple of days, using everything known to man to heat it, lubricate it, bang on it, but everything failed. The shaft was original and had been attached to the flange for over 40 years. He ended up cutting the shaft in half and pulling out each piece
separately, inserting the flange and partial shaft in a 20-ton hydraulic press to get them apart.

You will soon notice that when you pull the shaft through the bottom of the boa,t the rudder is slightly offset from the center of the boat. This allows you to remove the propeller shaft while not having to remove your rudder. This was very kind of those early engineers.

The rest, from this point, is as easy as rolling off a log. Remove the two hose clamps. With a sharp utility knife, cut away the old connector hose. There is a flair on the stuffing box and shaft log that is a little larger than the diameter of your hose. Put some dishwashing soap on all the pieces and give them a tap with your rubber mallet. They will go together, but with some resistance. Re-install the hose clamps, the shaft and flange, and you are set to go. I should note this connector hose is available from any marine supply store. Make sure you measure the one you have, as they come in different sizes depending on the diameter of the propeller shaft. In addition, make sure you take your boat out of the water before attempting this procedure.

If you want to know why Mr. Smith has only one letter ‘n’ in his name, you must too, go to the mountain. I hear there is a mountain in Deer River, where ever that is.

We are closer to spring than we are to last fall, the days are getting longer and we are entering the next lunar phase. The meaning of this, oh great masters, get your projects in gear. We’ll be boating sooner than you think.

Peace, Love and Tie-dye
Dr. Motorhead