Specialist or Generalist – Which to choose for running gear

2014 January 20
by Chris Brown

Recently we encountered a common problem – a yacht owner had a vibration problem and went to one of the local boat yards for help.  Most yards have good general marine service people that have a general but limited knowledge of many of the yacht systems.  After all, a service yard cannot afford to staff their team with specialist in all systems.  They did the normal things – sent the shafts out to a prop shop, changed cutlass bearings and did a routine engine alignment.  Since the yard did not have a running gear specialist they missed a few subtle problems with strut alignments and engine mounts and did not fix the problem.

Optical Scope Alignment check for accuracy

Optical Scope Alignment check for accuracy

 The end result is a customer that is now in our yard and starting over with shafts out and a detailed alignment check.  Unfortunately, this is repeating much of the work that the customer thought he was getting, and paid for, to begin with.

When I have an ache or pain I first go to my trusted Doctor, a general practitioner.  He reviews my problem and then sends me to a specialist.  He did his job and is done.  It is now time for the specialist to do their job.

If you only want to have bearings replaced and the shaft sent to a prop shop then go to a general yard.  If you have a vibration problem or want a detailed alignment check then make sure the yard you choose is prepared to perform a laser deck target (if needed), perform an optical scope alignment check of all struts and engines, knows your engine mounts in detail along with proper balancing techniques, knows the detailed points of coupling checks and the right procedures for a prop fit.

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