Water Pump

Dear Dr. Fred,

My husband and I enjoy boating probably like no other couple. We enjoy the Antique & Classic Boat Society, with all its benefits and camaraderie. However, that is not why I am writing to you today. The story is true; I have only changed the names to protect our anonymity.

When we first bought our boat it was nameless. We had a hard time coming up with a proper and fitting name we both could agree upon. I had ideas like “Summer of ‘52”, “Dream Boat” and “Old Woody.” However, my husband insisted the boat should be named after a woman. He said it was the
traditional thing to do. He said that old boats have personalities and they should be treated with respect. I finally agreed and we named it “Peggy Sue”. My husband (I’ll call him Bob) said it had something to do with the 50’s and a song he enjoyed. I still didn’t understand the personality thing. Although wood boats are beautiful, aren’t they really just a bunch of wood and metal?

Well Dr. Fred, this is the hard part. I think my husband is having an affair. No, in fact, I know he is having an affair. Not with the neighbor, but with “Peggy Sue.” Is this sick or what? He refers to the boat as “her” or “she” and not “it”. He gets worried for it when a storm is brewing. I have even overheard him talking to it when things aren’t running just right. The boat is pampered, respected and coddled. It seems as though every spare moment when not boating, is spent sprucing up, tinkering, or just hanging out next to it in the garage.

Now, he says his water pump is leaking. Sounds like another reason for him to spend more time with the boat. He says that he has been told that Chris Craft water pumps are supposed to leak some. Is this true? Oh, the agony of it all! Tell me Dr. Fred, what should I do? Is my husband sick and beyond help? Does he need therapy? When will this all end – or will it? You are so wise and I love your new TV Show. Can you help?
The Other Woman

Dear Other Woman,
You are making a mistake here. I am Doctor Fred, not
Dr. Phil; Dr. Phil is my cousin. He is very, very busy with this new show and all the fame and notoriety. I will try to address your issues as best as I can. You see, my cousin
Dr. Phil’s major was in counseling despondent women with a minor in motor science. While I majored in motor science, my minor was counseling despondent women. So Rebecca, if I may call you that, lets roll up our sleeves take a deep breath and discuss your issues.

My first thought is, so what’s wrong with what he is doing? These boats should be taken care of. We as owners are the caretakers for the next generation. Without loving care and attention, they would soon be lost forever. However, obsessive behavior is not healthy. I would suggest if you feel he is obsessed with the boat and its care and maintenance, you two should have a talk. It seems that you both enjoy the boat, ACBS, and it fellowship and most of all, boating. You have a common bond with a wonderful activity. Perhaps you might be interested in spending some time with your husband in the garage. In trade, he can spend some more time with you participating in one of your favorites, such as gardening.

I know you think your boat is just a bunch of wood and metal. How could an inanimate object have a personality? Well they do. Don’t ask me how or why but the truth of it is they just do. That is why I believe the naming a boat after a woman is a tradition. Many people today choose to make statements with their boat names. Such as, “Buy Low”. Not good karma, as we used to say in the 60’s. But whatever you decide to name your boat, it’s not such a bad idea to have a few kind words with her once in a while.

Now for the important stuff. Let’s check out the water pump situation. I will make an assumption that the water pump in question is the standard gear-driven pump installed on all Chris Craft engines made by Sherwood. No not Sherwood Hegen, Sherwood Brass and Pump Company. Of all the mechanical devices on or in your boat, this pump the most reliable, least maintained, and always ready to operate gadgets made. Inside your pump are two cylindrical gears that turn with the engine drawing water up from the lake. As the engine speeds up and requires more cooling, the pump speeds up and feeds more water to the engine.

The other type of water pump uses a rubber impellor to pull water up from the lake. I have to admit these types are more efficient, however they can wear out without warning and leave you stranded unless you have a spare impellor. As I mentioned earlier, the gear driven types are almost indestructible.

There are two small holes in the bottom of the pump. The first is the one with the small ¼” plug. If this is leaking, then you need to tighten it. This spot is where you drain your water pump for winter lay-up. The second hole is closer to the engine and is there for a specific purpose. If there is a leak between the pump housing and the shaft, this will allow the water to drain out this hole. If the water were not allowed to drain out here, the water would enter the engine and contaminate the oil. If there is a small drip here, no big deal. If, however, there is quite a large steady stream, you may choose to fix it. If the water is leaking out of the front of the water pump, (the end with the two caps) you will want to address this issue.

Lets address the repairs. If the pump is leaking from one of the two capped ends, water was left in the water pump over the winter and they were blown out, or the gear shafts are so poorly worn and out of spec, they were knocked out. Take the end off the water pump housing and look on the inside. If the bearings are worn out and there is excessive wear or groves on the inside, my advice is to buy yourself a good used pump and replace it. If everything looks OK, replace the end caps. You can do this with a penny. Put some gasket seal on a new penny and fit it on the end; it’s that easy. If the water is leaking excessively out the small hole, there is wear on the inner seal where the live shaft and gear enter into the pump housing. You will have to take the whole thing apart. You will need to remove the gears and shafts, repack the seal, and reassemble. While you are at it, you might as well replace the bearing set on the end of the shaft as well. If you don’t have a grinder and punch to remove the shaft coupling, or a press to remove the bearing, go ahead and buy a used pump.

As I stated earlier, these gear driven pumps are, for the most part, indestructible. The only maintenance item for you is to fill the grease cup on the end of the pump and screw it down a couple of times a year — not all the way down mind you, just a couple of turns. The only time you need to fill the cup with fresh grease is when it bottoms out. Unscrew the grease cup, fill it with grease and screw it down until you feel some resistance.

Well Rebecca, I hope this has been of some help to you. Give my best to Bob and remind him that moderation is a good word. Hope to see you at the January Boat Show.
Dr. Fred