Seized Rudders – Check the Stuffing Box

2010 June 6
by Chris Brown

Rudders on 111' Inace

One of our customers ran into a major problem with rudders that were seized in position.  The rudder hydraulics had failed due to overloading.  We knew it was a problem when a mechanic in the rudder room could not move the tiller arms using his legs and back.

Once hauled (the vessel had to be towed in) the rudders were removed.  At High Seas we like to meet our customers prior to haul-out in order to start the steering and rudder removal process.   After haul-out and during the pressure wash we complete the disassembly and can drop the rudders prior to final blocking.  Most rudders are too tall to remove once the vessel is blocked.  If we work efficiently with the yard crew we can avoid a second lift (which is an additional charge for our customers).

Once the rudders were removed the bearings were carefully inspected.  Everything was within specification (the vessel is only three years old).  The problem was in the packing.  The manufactured used Teflon packing in a traditional stuffing box.  The rudders were a constant leaking annoyance for the crew and someone had overtightened the packing gland.  It is possible to torque down the packing gland with Teflon packing to the point where the rudders will not move. 

We clean all components and repacked with more traditional flax packing.  Once everything was re-hung the rudders turned without any effort at all.

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