Installing New Stern Tubes using Optical Scope Alignment

2017 January 9
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by Chris Brown

When one of our returning customers, an 87 foot Broward yacht discovered that they had significant corrosion on their stern tubes (shaft logs), they asked our running gear experts to help out. Once we removed the shafts from the boat, we were able to get a better idea of what we were dealing with on the stern tubes. The vessel is made of aluminum and was suffering from corrosion to the point where we would need to fabricate new tubes.

To accomplish this, we enlisted our machine shop, Straight Line Marine. The machine shop ensured the inner diameter was machined for the cutlass bearings, drilled & tapped for alignment jacking screws and milled out water vents.  Once we finished the machining process, it was time to install the new stern tubes back into the boat.  The stern tubes have a cutlass bearing on each end so it is critical that the tube be aligned properly to the struts and engines.  To ensure that the stern tubes would be in perfect alignment, we used a process

Scoping to align stern tube

called optical scope alignment or “scoping” for short. Scoping is the most advanced method for obtaining a perfect marine shaft alignment with struts, shaft logs, engines or v-drives.  Scoping is the latest generation of alignment technology and far more advanced than the old piano wire system and even laser alignments.

The twist here is that we used the scoping process to help the welders perfectly place the new stern tubes in the boat. With the welding complete, we were able to finish the job and ensure

that the shaft and stern tubes were aligned, guaranteeing a vibration free ride for this valued customer.

Welded stern tube in pace after optical alignment

Maintaining High Performance through Routine Maintenance

2016 August 1
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by Chris Brown

A 100 foot Marlow yacht was recently hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center for routine maintenance that included her running gear, hydraulics, topside paint and other services. The captain turned to High Seas Yacht Service for the ship’s running gear work and our sister company, High Seas Hydraulics for the hydraulic portion.

Old pitted shafts

Old pitted shafts

During the inspection of the bearings and seals, we found that the shafts were deeply pitted to the point that we could not fix them through a cladding or weld-over process. New shafts would need to be fabricated. To make the new shafts, were turned to Straight Line Marine, our full service machine shop dedicated to shaft, strut and rudder straightening for precision alignments and the elimination of running gear vibration. At Straight Line Marine, we can straighten or fabricate shafts up to 6 inches in diameter and perform shaft weld-overs (cladding).  We are ABS Certified for Aquamet Stainless Steel Shaft Cladding.  We also perform ABS shaft crack testing and straightening.

For this yacht, we needed to make 4” diameter shafts starting with sourcing the raw materials, machining the right coupler taper and the threading on the propeller end of the shaft. We also had to machine the new key way for the

Machining new key way

Machining new key way


As is common in many boats, this one used a coupler nut attachment with one big nut on the coupler end in the engine room. The nut that was used would be similar to a propeller nut. Since the coupler nut is usually recessed into the coupler, it takes a very large socket to tighten or loosen it. In order to perform the work, we would have to make custom sockets that would fit on a 1” wrench and then, because of the amount of torque required, put a 3 foot long pipe on the wrench to get the leverage.  Because this work is happening in a very tight place, we found that we do not have enough room to swing a long pipe or get the socket in place.

New coupler nut

New coupler nut

A more modern approach is the keeper plate or shaft locking plate.  The end of the shaft is cut flush, drilled and tapped for much smaller bolts.  Three ¾” hardened bolts are torqued down in a circle to draw the plate and coupler onto the shaft taper.  A common ¾” socket can be used on a regular ½” or ¾” wrench.  We no longer needed long cheater pipes since the torque required to draw up the plate is considerably less than that required on one big nut.

This yacht now sports brand new shafts and is ready for smooth sailing.


Machining new hydraulic rods for a Quantum Stabilizer

2016 March 17
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by Chris Brown
Scored rods

Scored rods

A customer walked into our sister company, High Seas Hydraulics with three leaking Quantum Stabilizer cylinders from a 150 foot Trinity motor yacht. Upon close inspection, it was determined that there were fine scores or scratches in the hydraulic rods that were causing the fluid to bypass the seals. These scratches could not be repaired or polished out so new hydraulic rods would need to be installed.

raw materials

Raw materials

That is when our hydraulic teams turned to our machine shop Straight Line Marine. Through our procurement department at High Seas, we were able to source the raw materials needed to fabricate new hydraulic rods within a day.

Finished rod

Finished rod

The Straight Line Marine machinist went to work and crafted new rods to exact specifications including intricate thread machining.

The ability to bring the stabilizer cylinders back to top working order with new hydraulic rods fabricated on-site in our machine shop saved this motor yacht’s owner and captain both time and money and was completed from a one stop company.


Team Work Makes Short Order of this Job

2016 March 14
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by Chris Brown

A 156′ Custom Motor Yacht was hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center for a new paint job and other routine maintenance. As part of the painting process, the hydraulic side boarding ladder was removed by our Hydraulics team at High Seas Hydraulics for disassembly in order to paint the parts. The mechanical project was fairly straight forward. We made new pins and bushings in our machine shop, Straight Line Marine to replace some that were corroded in place and to provide for smoother operations of the ladder.

Using a forklift to reinstall ladder

Using a forklift to reinstall ladder

The tricky part of the job was getting the ladder on and off of a boat of this size with the vessel blocked in the yard and surrounded by scaffolding. Careful use of a forklift and skilled technicians from both our hydraulics but also from our running gear teams made the job a success.

Our on-site services ranging from hydraulics work, machine shop capabilities and skilled technicians from all three of our companies define team work in getting the “big” jobs done right.


High Seas’ Straight Line Marine Featured in Professional Boat Builder Magazine

2016 February 1
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by Chris Brown

Professional Boatbuilders cover_Page_1


Our dedicated machine shop, Straight Line Marine, was featured in a cover story in the January/February issue of Professional BoatBuilder Magazine. The article titled “The Necessity of Straight” provides an in-depth look at the art of shaft alignments. The author visited our facilities at Lauderdale Marine Center for a refresher course in the practice and precisions required to get running gear alignments right. The article also touches on our new Hydraulics division and its capabilities. <Read More>


High Seas delivers expertise in running gear and hydraulics under one roof

2016 January 11
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by Chris Brown

new rudder sealsWhen a 121′ Heesen was recently hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center, we were contracted to work on a number of different components on the yacht. As part of the refit and general service, our technicians removed the rudders and replaced the bearings and the seals. We also performed an optical scope alignment on the boat, pulled the shafts, couplers, props and Wartsila shaft seal assembly to ensure that everything was in alignment and in good working order.

While the yacht was hauled it also needed routine maintenance and service performed on its Hydraulic Steering System. It is recommended that this type of service be performed every 5 to 7 years to ensure the yacht continues to run at peak performance. A steering failure can be extremely inconvenient

For this work, we called in our hydraulic experts from our sister company High Seas Hydraulics. As part of the process, we drained and flushed the hydraulic tanks containing the steering fluid, removed and rebuilt the steering cylinders and replaced the old hoses with newly fabricated ones that were made on site in our shop.

Part of the general refit on this yacht included installing new hard hydraulic lines. To ensure that the lines were clean prior to filling the tanks with fresh hydraulic steering fluids, air is blown through the lines starting at the tank and ending where the hoses meet the cylinders.

Having a shops that specialize in both running gear and hydraulics under one roof, can often time save the owners, captains or engineers’ time and money.

Straight Line Marine provides valuable support in machining customized fittings

2016 January 11
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by Chris Brown
New bronze bushing

New bronze bushing

Forward crane assembly

Forward crane assembly

When our long time customer, a 150’ Palmer Johnson, returned to Lauderdale Marine Center for service and maintenance, they asked us to perform some routine maintenance on the forward crane system. During the process, we found that the stainless steel pins had corroded the aluminum housing of the unit making it unsafe to function as designed. Instead of sending the unit out to a third party machine shop for re-fabrication, we were able to take advantage of our in-house operations, Straight Line Marine. Straight Line was able to quickly fabricate and machine new bronze bushings and insert it into the unit. This quickly put the job back on track for our Hydraulic technicians to finish their job and get the crane safely installed back in the boat.


Straight Line Marine and High Seas Yacht Service in the News!

2015 November 29
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by Chris Brown

The October/November issue of Professional BoatBuilders profiled our neighbor and partner All Points, Inc. which included information on Straight Line Marine and our specialized capabilities working on shafts. It also ran a photo of an optical alignment, referencing High Seas Yacht Service. Hope you enjoy the article.


Shaft Cladding – Welding Heat will Cause a Bend

2015 August 10
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by Chris Brown

We were recently approached by a captain from a 112 foot Westport who we have done business with in the past. The boat was purchased by a new owner when an engine vibration was uncovered and the captain asked us to check the shaft and alignment to remedy the problem.

One of the first steps our technicians at High Seas Yacht Service took was to remove the shaft to check for potential problems such as a bend or bad coupling fit. Once the shaft was removed, it was sent to our machine shop – Straight Line Marine. On the straightening table we found that that the run-out showed that the shaft was .001” or within straight tolerance – obviously not the cause of the vibration.

However, what we did find was some fairly significant pitting around the Tide Marine Lip Seal that was causing the seal to leak.

Cladding process

Cladding process

Given the pitting on the shaft and the resulting leaks, we recommended a procedure called shaft weld-over or cladding, a process of repairing a worn or damaged area on a shaft through the use of welding and a lathe. Our machine shop is ABS Certified for Aquamet Stainless Steel Shaft Cladding and was the first machine shop in Florida to hold this designation.

For this particularly job, we welded an area approximately 3 inches long or 10 minutes of continuous welding to address the issue. Welding of this intensity can generate extreme heat of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of heat can cause the shaft to bend so after a cooling off period, we re-checked this shaft and found that it indeed had a bend of 0.020” at the coupling end. After putting the shaft through the straightening process and returning it to 0.001″, it was ready to be re-installed in the vessel.

Finished shaft

Finished shaft

The lessons learned from this particularly job – when investigating the cause of one problem, another may come to light. Finding the pitting and corrosion on the shaft that was causing the leaks was the result of good diagnostic practices, delivering a solution that saved the captain thousands of dollars by cladding a shaft instead of replacing it was possible due to the combined experience and expertise you get from High Seas Yacht Service and its sister company, Straight Line Marine. The lesson also reconfirmed that cladding does cause a bend – so make sure the machine shop that performs this type of welding is qualified to straighten shafts.


Performing a complete running gear refit

2014 August 1
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by Chris Brown

We were recently hired to perform a complete running gear refit on a very unique 120 foot Trinity Sport Fish. The refit included everything from realigning the strut bearings using a “line boring” machining process, realigning transmissions and installing new stern tubes.

This particular yacht also had very old Paxman engines and Christie & Grey engine mounts, both UK-manufactured products. The Paxman engines were going through a major overhaul with another contractor so we proposed replacing the old Christie & Grey engine mounts with a new type of adjustable isolating mount.  For this project we selected Vulkan mounts.

New Vulcan engine mount with CHOCKFAST

New Vulkan engine mount with CHOCKFAST

In order to install the new Vulkan engine mounts, we needed to fabricate all new sole plates, drilled new holes in the aluminum stringers and align with CHOCKFAST® ORANGE. CHOCKFAST is an engineered epoxy chocking material that is used to cast-in-place permanent machinery supports for all sizes and types of main engines and marine auxiliary equipment. Because it conforms precisely to any surface profile, CHOCKFAST eliminates the machining of foundation and mounting surfaces as well as the fitting of the old-style steel chocks.

We also installed new Vulkan torsional couplings.  This torsional coupling is found between the gear box and the engine and serves to dampen the torsional loads coming from the engine flywheel thus absorbing any twist in the shaft. The Vulkan torsional couplings have rubber or other material that does degrade with time and heavy use. After 10 years it is time to check your coupling. This one was well past due going on 17 years old.

Once the preliminary work and re-installation were complete, we performed a Ludeca Laser Alignment on the vessel. A Ludeca Laser shaft alignment uses a patented automatic CONTINUOUS SWEEP measurement mode which evaluates hundreds of readings during shaft rotation. This compares to shooting a movie vs. only taking flash pictures at certain intervals. The end result is less shimming and horizontal moves because you are measuring much more accurately.

This very unique Sport Fish is now ready to deliver many more years of sporting pleasure to its owners and crew.