Prop and cutlass bearing removal


Oct 7, 2021
Catalina 309 Wickford, RI
Much has been written about this, but here are a couple of additional notes from my recent experience with stubborn parts that AFAIK had been assembled for 15 years.

I applied PB Blaster penetrating oil to the prop several times over the course of a week, focusing on the keyway.

This inexpensive puller 8 in. Three-Jaw Gear Puller worked OK for the 3-blade prop on stainless steel shaft. The size fit fine but the threads seemed dangerously close to stripping, even with a generous coating of bearing grease.

After tightening up the puller, a 1200 degree heat gun on the prop hub had no effect after 15 minutes, even after some transverse tapping on the hub. Weather was cool 50F and an IR sensor showed the hub only reached 200F. The next day, tried a propane torch directed on the hub over the keyway, and the prop broke free with a sharp sound after only about a minute. Happy surprise, sorry no IR sensor temperature reading.

The cutlass set screws were almost completely concealed by layers of bottom paint. Since the screws are shorter than the thickness of the skeg tube, they're recessed and it is difficult to remove the paint enough to fully expose the screws without creating a bevel in the hole. With the Allen wrench fully seated, the screws came out easily. Not sure if some repair should be done to the outer portion of the screw holes to fill in the bevel and restore a fully cylindrical hole shape, given that the installed screw does not contact the beveled part of the hole anyway. May add a new third set screw for peace of mind.

The brass sleeved cutlass was really stuck. Firm twisting with large well-conforming pliers seemed hopeless. Did not dare to apply any kind of penetrant since the skeg tube is not metal. After a cold night where temperature dipped to 24F, got to the yard early and the bearing twisted out easily with temperatures still just below freezing.

The moral of this story is that temperature, both hot and cold, is your friend. Hope this is helpful.

- Brad