Engine mounts absorb almost all of the thrust load pressure of your propellers, often transferring it throughout the rest of your hull, which means they need to be strong, as well as inspected regularly. If they’re not, you may starts to notice all sorts of problems popping up. Misalignments, for instance, can cause significant friction and stress that leads to all sorts of serious and costly concerns if left untreated – and the larger the boat you have, the harder and more important it is to maintain proper engine/shaft alignment. After all, the seriousness of any misalignment is magnified by how large the shaft/vessel is, which is why even the smallest misalignments can cause major damage on any sizable ship. On the other hand, a small boat may be able to survive just fine for quite some time with an engine/shaft misalignment, with little to no permanent damage, since shorter shafts tend to be a lot more elastic and flexible – although it’s not recommended you allow this to happen if you’re aware of the issue. Some of the most common problems involving engine/shaft alignment/misalignment include:
Depending on how severe the damage is, a bent shaft can be salvageable, which means all you have to do is worry about a few minor repairs. However, if you want the best for your ship, any broken shafts should be replaced entirely as to avoid causing further damage to other components throughout your hull.
Rapid Bearing Deterioration
Engine bearings are responsible for reducing friction between the various rotating components in the ship’s engine and it’s stationary anchors and support cranks, which means they are critical for optimal functionality. However, misalignments can cause stress and vibrations leading to increased friction and rapid bearing deterioration.
Excessive vibration in the drive system can lead to significant damage to your boat’s transmission, engine mounts, and really the entire hull as a whole – and the greater the misalignment, the more vibration you’re looking at.
Too much vibration can also loosen your strut, which as any experienced boater knows can lead to leaking or even a risk of your ship sinking.
Worn/Leaky/Loose Stuffing Boxes
Stuffing boxes, or packing boxes as they are also known, seal the space around the propeller shaft where it goes through the shaft log, which keeps seawater from seeping in. However, misalignments can cause stuffing boxes to wear down and leak, causing significant water damage – or worst of all, the sinking of your vessel. Or, the oscillation of the propeller shaft can cause the clamps to come loose, resulting in the same fate.
Increased stress on all the rear output shaft gears and bearings can quickly cause total transmission failure if you’re not careful, and there’s no way to come back from that but to accept to damages and face the cost.
Damaged Universal Joints
As the damage caused by a misalignment spreads beyond the engine mounts, a lot of times the boats universal joints face the consequences. They may start to oscillate and wear down faster than they are meant to, leading to even more problems down the road.
If you think a boat you’re interested in has any problems involving engine/shaft alignment, or if you simply have any questions regarding a vessel you already own, reach out to me, seasoned marine surveyor Christian A. Syoen of CAS Marine Surveyorr, today. I’m confident I can give you all the answers and guidance you need regarding where to go from here. To schedule a survey for your own vessel, or one you’re going to purchase, reach out today by calling 1.810.531.0992 or fill out the form in the sidebar to schedule your free consultation.