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Q I have had no problems with my narrowboat’s stern gland in eight years and only adjusted it a couple of times. I do experience a little drip but a few turns on the greaser each night keep it under control. I am taking the boat out of the water: should I take advantage of the opportunity to change the packing due to its age, or leave it alone?
NIGEL WILSHAW, via email TONY REPLIES: Convention has it that A stern glands should drip one to two drips a minute and seal when the greaser is used, so yours seems fine. As long as you have plenty of adjustment left I would not repack it because the packing can be difficult to cut to the exact length, tends to fray at the cut, and repacking can cause more leaks than it cures.
If you do repack, remember to keep checking it and running in ahead and astern as soon as it goes back in the water to help seat the new packing and ensure it is not leaking. Remember you should be able to turn the shaft by hand and the gland can run a little warm, but never hot.
Repacking can be tricky