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  • Writer's pictureRhu Strand

Joe's concerned about the length of his shaft !!!



May was a mixed month of rain stops play and Landrover repairs stops play, which has been frustrating but unavoidable.


The last bank holiday of May was one of the first chances to get back to Fortuna and renovations, Joe wanted to remove the props so that they can be sent away for minor repairs, remove the shafts and p-brackets, he found rot in the hull reinforcing for the p-bracket and also the hull reinforcing for the rudder stock, so they all need to be removed.


Joe spent most of Sunday attempting to remove the port side propeller with a manual puller, unfortunately not quite enough pressure, so Monday we purchased a gas burner to see if applying some heat would do the trick .....




So that was a no from the manual puller and gas burner and a rather large persuader (aka a hammer). There was nothing left but to call in the big boys and see if they would manage the task - we imagine that they have likely been in situ for the past 60+ years, so you can't blame them for not wanting to give up so easily !!


Bring on the big boy tools - 10tonne hydraulic puller - cheers to Owl Motors in Southsea for lending this to us.



I was busy on Saturday and I made Joe promise to only take one of the props off, I wanted to film it, so the first one, the port prop, went with a little bit of heat and popped off within five mins.


So Sunday off we go, expecting the same kind of service from the starboard prop





The starboard side was as stubborn as the port side was with the manual puller. We expected 10 tonne of pressure would have her off in no time, but that was not to be we applied heat to the prop twice for periods of 15 minutes, and she still wouldn't move, we left her for an hour or so with the pressure still applied, came back, applied more heat and 'tapped' it with a hammer, but no, she really wasn't going to give up and we started to discuss alternative plans, removing propellor shafts or cutting the prop. Instead we decided to give her until the end of the day under pressure and see if that would release her.



Four hours later we returned, no movement, before I could get my phone out to video, Joe gave it a small tap and with an almighty bang she had freed herself from the shaft, much to the relief of Joe.... this is all starting to sound a bit like a Mills and Boon 1970s novel !!!!


She dropped down to the end nut as you can see in the before and after pics below ...





The shaft and internal hole of the propeller is a matched taper, their fit is an interference fit and becomes so tight they are pretty much bound together, this is why we have had so much difficulty in removing them, you can see the taper on the shaft below. Generally props are removed, inspected and serviced on a regular basis, as with all mechanical items, as I said above, we think these have been in-situ for many years.


It is amazing that the simple taper along with the nut and split pin, and the wood ruff key (the long flat piece across the top of the shaft in the picture) are enough to keep these fast turning and vital pieces of kit in place, given the speed they will turn and screw the boat through the water. The correct term for a propellor is a screw, as with aeroplane propellers screw through the air, a boat propellor screws through the water - it can all get very technical so we won't go into detail here - try google searches.



Anyway moving on .... now we notice there was an issue with the shaft length - after some tricky measuring we found either one is too long or one is too short, with a difference of 1- 3/4 inches between them, we are now wondering if one of the shafts and props have been replaced at some time, it's highly unlikely that there has always been this difference, the markings on the propellors are different, so probably not a matched pair as they would have been at production.


We eventually managed to chat to the wood suppliers, we are using Robins Wood in Bristol to get our first order of wood in to start laminating the new deck beams and reinstate the aft deck. Hopefully June will see a more productive month of creating rather than dismantling.



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