Sunday, 22 March 2009

First Law of Boating- Things always take longer than you think.

The plan was simple- remove the old grub screws from the prop shaft, slide the engine forwards, detach the old flexible coupling, slide in the prop shaft, realign the engine, and bolt together. We planned on having the old coupling off by elevenses, the new one attached by lunchtime, and the engine realigned and ready to go by the evening.

Unfortunately, it was no-way near that simple.

Getting the grub screws out on Saturday morning proved problematic. I ended up buying an allen socket from Mackays, so I could apply more torque. Two came out- and one sheared in half at the top, leaving only a small semi-circle of metal sticking up out of the top.

Molegrips, spanners, G-clamps, swearing, running the engine in forwards then reverse- none would shift this recalcitrant grub screw.

By this point, it was 2pm, and I resorted to drilling it out. James on Kestrel lent me a fantastic De Walt cordless drill and some HSS drillbits, and I set to. Unfortunately, this took all afternoon to drill even a few millimeters into the screw. Even mooring alongside TBWCBNICTWFO (aka wb Pippin) and borrowing John's bigger drill- and power from their 6kw generator- couldn't drill any faster.

So the angle grinder came out.

After several hours work by John, the flexible coupling had a large semi-circle eaten away around the recalcitrant grub screw, and it became looser and looser. And at the moment of triumph, of removing the coupling... I made the rather tedious observation that, actually, ALL of the grub screws had sheared off, and the stubs of the other two were still attaching the coupling to the shaft.

So out came the angle grinder again, John working hard, resulted in significant inroads into the coupling. Retiring to the Fort, where bought a few well-earned rounds for John, led to a good brief chat until closing time, where we staggered home, and to bed.

Sunday morning proved to be just as sunny and nice as Saturday. A text from Emma- "James coming round, put the kettle on"- led us to spring into action. James set to with the angle grinder, assisted by Amy, and I headed off to cox an outing. I'd been of a mind to cancel it, but that proved unnecessary.

At 10am, a shout of triumph announced that the old, mangled coupling was finally free from the propshaft. It has literally been hacked to pieces- no chance of eBaying the remains!

And then the next problem struck. I'd ordered the wrong size clamp to attach onto the shaft! After some choice language and several mental kicks up the backside for stupidity, I set to trying to move the propshaft into the boat, to expose more than the two-inch stub for the coupling to grip onto.

It turns out that there's a bush or something inside the old oil seal that's preventing it from sliding in- annoyingly!

Now, I'm ordering a new clamp, and until then we're immobile at Jesus Lock. Hopefully that should arrive on Monday or Tuesday, so we can get everything sorted out.

Meanwhile, the Duck is, again, a butty with an engine unconnected to the prop.

[Photos to follow when I have the right lead for the camera]


  1. I've just had all my transmission gear - universal coupling, prop shaft clamp, & stern gland refuurbished & refitted; my grub screws had just about had it too, so they've drilled a hole through the shaft and a bolt goes all the way through. That isn't going to come loose in a hurry... ;-)

  2. Oh the irony - the times those grub screws came loose when you didn't want them to....

  3. Carry some spare bolts though Simon - it might shear when you least want it to.