• On September 1st, Maine Sail suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke. One of the most generous members of our sailing community, he has helped thousands. Now it's our turn. Click here to learn more

Removing strut to change cutlass bearing?

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
We're proud new owners of a 1993 Hunter 33.5.

One of our motivating factors for buying the boat was the fact that it was lightly used by the PO - it's not been out of the marina in at least the last 3 years. She's in very good shape overall but I'm not sure if the PO was too keen on maintenance judging from a number of small things left inoperable for lack of easy fixes...

The one major concern we have is the cutlass bearing. It is really shot. I'd say the shaft has about 1-2 mm (1/16 of an inch? Forgive me, I grew up metric...) play in it. When we took her on her sea trial she vibrated quite a bit at high rpm's as you can imagine but not much at half throttle and lower. When we hauled her she had about 20 barnacles on her prop and I was actually surprised that the vibration wasn't worse given the unbalanced prop and shot bearing. The prop shaft looks dead straght and in decent shape and there was no leak on the dripless seal after 30-40 minutes of motoring during the sea trail despite the vibration.

Since our current/previous boat has an outboard, I have not done a cutlass bearing before. I have spend hours reading forums and threads on this subject (there's a large amount of these) and am pretty much clued up on my options. I'm confident that I will get the prop off the shaft but do not want to remove the shaft itself - that dry seal tells me to leave well enough alone and the thought of dropping my rudder is not something I relish.

In all my reading nobody suggested taking the strut off and leaving the shaft on. It may be my extreme inexperience talking but taking the strut with me to my comfy workshop to get the old bearing (or what's left of it) out and pressing the new one in and then replacing the strut on the shaft seems like a top idea. The strut is bolted through the hull where the bolts are very accessible and though there is always the possibility of leakage when buggering around with through hull fittings of course, there are signs of possible past leakage on the one bolt and a good solid re-bedding of the strut may not be a bad idea in any case. This will also allow me to inspect the shaft where the cutlass bearing goes for damage/unacceptable wear.

I feel like this is too obvious a solution and that I must be missing something. Any advice will be much appreciated.

P.s. I know it is actually a "cutless" bearing (which in itself is of course a trade name) and not a "cutlass" but I did not feel like fighting my auto correct every time I write it....
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,508
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
My understanding is that the alignment of the strut is critical to the shaft and running gear. Any mis-alignment will result in cutlass wear and vibration and possible damage to the transmission. I would not do what you are suggesting. There are easy solutions to R & R the cutlass bearing in place. A number of posters here have made their own extractor/insertion tool. Your marina can probably remove and install a new bearing in under two hours if the prop is off. When I replaced my bearing a few years ago, I removed the prop and handed the mechanic the new bearing. He used a $1000 tool and was done quickly for a reasonable charge of $150.

And BTW, congrats on your new vessel and welcome to the best sailing board in the USA.
 
  • Like
Likes: LeGe
Aug 2, 2009
464
Catalina 315 Muskegon
You're probably over-estimating the difficulty of dropping your rudder. I had to do it on my Catalina 309. Just dug a hole in the ground for it to drop into. Physically disconnecting it was no big deal, and the I eased it down.

So, if you weren't worried about the rudder aspect of the job, how bad can the rest of it be?

I wouldn't buck convention on this one. If you take off the strut and have trouble with it later, you're going to have to explain what the heck happened.
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,508
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
Dropping your rudder means that you are going to remove the shaft. That means that you need to remove the shaft from the transmission flange coupling. That action will open an different can of worms. Just keep it simple- rent, borrow, or fabricate a tool or just have the yard experts do it.
 
Sep 15, 2009
6,242
S2 9.2a Fairhope Al
You're probably over-estimating the difficulty of dropping your rudder. I had to do it on my Catalina 309. Just dug a hole in the ground for it to drop into. Physically disconnecting it was no big deal, and the I eased it down.

So, if you weren't worried about the rudder aspect of the job, how bad can the rest of it be?

I wouldn't buck convention on this one. If you take off the strut and have trouble with it later, you're going to have to explain what the heck happened.
there was a couple on here that lost their boat due to rudder repair if you don't drop it you have less chance of that happening
 
Dec 19, 2006
5,731
Hunter 36 Punta Gorda
I agree if the Marina can do it and they have the tool let them do it and so much less trouble for sure,too much thinking and too many unexpected things to go wrong and
than turns into a much bigger job and $$$.
I changed my cutless bearing and PSS bellows all at the same time and did not need to remove the rudder or prop and it still was a lot of work.
Nick
 
Sep 15, 2009
6,242
S2 9.2a Fairhope Al
how did you do that without removing something you either had to remove the prop or the coupling i would think
 

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
Thank you all for your much appreciated advice. I'm going to follow Rich's advice and prep the job by removing the prop and cleaning the shaft ten buy the part and trust the yard to keep it reasonable to do the replacing of the bearing...

Can't wait for the 2016 season....
 

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
Seadaddler, please forgive my ignorance but what's a PSS bellows?
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,911
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
I would not pull the shaft unless you have a specific reason to do so. Separating the coupling could create more "issues", and removing the rudder even more so.

My yard did not have the proper tools, and they "outsource" these sort of jobs to a traveling crew. I did not like the sound of that too much. At least with the yard, you have someone to talk to if there are issues. Once the traveling crew is gone, not sure what you would do if there was a problem.

I did not want to spend the $$ for one of the commercial tools, so I took my measurements (shaft OD, strut ID, strut length ) and drew up a sketch of what I wanted. My bro-in-law owns a machine shop made up the plates and collets, I added some all-thread and bolts, and have a very nice little tool.


You might also want to check around locally and see if you can find someone who has purchased one of the commercial tools, and offer to rent it for a reasonable fee. That was my back-up plan if I could not get my tool made. I found some in the area who was willing to come out and help me (he did not want me to damage his tool), for a modest fee.

Good luck. Hopefully the yards in area are more "hands on" than mine.

Greg
 

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
Wow Greg, excellent video! Really appreciate the detail. Not sure I can make a tool as nice as the one you did but I love the challenge and have the whole winter to complete the project, you've inspired me man, thank you!
 
Dec 19, 2006
5,731
Hunter 36 Punta Gorda
Yes first thing was I wanted to change the PSS bellows and need to remove the coupling and that was the hardest part of the job but went to Mainsails web site and he shows great complete how to remove the coupling and I did reuse the coupling on my 2007 with out any problems but getting that coupling apart was a bare and hard work with PB blaster and heat and tapping with hammer for sure.
Once I had that coupler apart even though the cutless bearing not too much play but it was so easy to pull my shaft out with out dropping the rudder and again Mainsail
shows how to replace the cutless bearing with shaft out.
I did have boat on the hard doing a bottom paint job so I felt this was a good time to change the PSS bellows and cutless bearing too.
Nick
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,591
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
That was an excellent video. I too made my own removal tool that has served me well since about 2007. There was an article back then on the Catalina forums (which has now disappeared) that detailed a fairly easy construction that required a lathe to build . Luckily, I have a small metal turning lathe and was able to fabricate the tool in a couple of hours. The critical components are the collet, the pull piece and the pass through piece.

For my 1" prop shaft and 1-1/4" OD by 4" cutless I was able to use a standard NPT iron pipe nipple and two 1" NPT pipe flanges. The lathe was required to turn the pipe nipple down to 1.242" (.008" undersized OD). Then split it with a hacksaw to form the collet. Next time I will turn a longer nipple so I can cut off the two threaded ends first. Mine ended up at 5-1/2" long. Or I might turn the puller flange around and see if one threaded side of the collet can be screwed into it to keep the assembly together.

The two pipe flanges are chucked in the lathe to bore the holes to their respective diameters. The puller piece that drives the collet into the stut has a 1.08" hole to just clear the prop shaft and not let the collet pass through. Use a hacksaw to cut away the piece enabling it to fit over the shaft. The pass through piece has its hole bored to 1.375" that allows engagement with the strut and clearance for the old cutless. Two holes in the flanges have to be enlarged for the threaded rod.

An earlier attempt using some big washers was less than satisfactory as they would bend, hence the improved pipe flange design. However, the then puller piece works quite well when inserted between the pass through and the strut to push the new cutless back in. I saved the little cut out and that also helps evenly push the new bearing back in.

The procedure is exactly as Greg describes in his video with his obviously more professionally fabricated setup.
2014 Cutlass Bearing Removal.jpg
Puller Pieces.jpg
I just wanted to provide the dimensions for my rudimentary setup.

I used 1/2" All Thread and nuts on both sides of the puller flange. That way the rod doesn't spin and I can use two ratchets at once to speed up the removal.

I have an extra collet (you can see in the picture) that is not split. I either use that to push the new cutless back in or I use the old one. When pushing the new cutless back in, I stop short about 1/16" just so next time its easy to pre-start the collet.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: njlarry

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
Much obliged sir. Appreciate the dimensions! My boat takes the exact same cutlass bearing yours do so I can fashion my tool to your exact specs...
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,591
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
Much obliged sir. Appreciate the dimensions! My boat takes the exact same cutlass bearing yours do so I can fashion my tool to your exact specs...
No problem. That's why we're here!

Sorry about the English dimensions. I started as a Chemist and spoke metric. Then I went back to college and became an Engineer and they made me learn English. :)
 

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
Wouldn't it be a beautiful day when we just bite the bullet and go metric? If I never have to hear a fraction in my life again I will die a happy man... I'm in America because I want to be here not because I happen to have been born here and love this country and its people deeply except their insistence on clinging to an outdated method of measurements....

Interesting fact about the Imperial or English system of measurements. The people who thought if out and burdened us with it does not use it anymore. In fact only 3 countries in the world still use it: The US, Liberia and Myanmar (formally known as Burma) It might be time to reconsider our position... :plus:
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,591
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
I am good with going metric (or SI). But its never gotten much traction whenever we've tried. Just keep educating the kids and eventually we can phase it out.

I know about coming to the US. My dad although born in Toronto to American parents lived there. In 1939 he went to war with the Canadian Merchant Marines, then in 1941 came to the US for the rest of the war and stayed until he passed away in 2008. We still have relatives in Canada.

Welcome to the US.

Remember that here 60% of the people can't do fractions and the other 1/2 can't do percents!
 

LeGe

.
Nov 21, 2015
32
Hunter 33.5 Cedar Creek, NJ
Lol!
Thanks. It'll be 9 years in January and I still love you guys just as much as I did when I first came here....
 
Sep 15, 2009
6,242
S2 9.2a Fairhope Al
I am good with going metric (or SI). But its never gotten much traction whenever we've tried. Just keep educating the kids and eventually we can phase it out.

I know about coming to the US. My dad although born in Toronto to American parents lived there. In 1939 he went to war with the Canadian Merchant Marines, then in 1941 came to the US for the rest of the war and stayed until he passed away in 2008. We still have relatives in Canada.

Welcome to the US.

Remember that here 60% of the people can't do fractions and the other 1/2 can't do percents!
also 5 out of 4 people have trouble with math don't ya know
 
  • Like
Likes: JoeSailer10