Rudder stock stuffing, also known as the rudder gland or stuffing box, is a component found on most boats that helps prevent water from entering the hull through the rudder shaft. The rudder stock stuffing is essentially a waxed packing material that is wrapped around the rudder post and compressed using a gland nut to create a watertight seal. Without this component, water would leak into the hull, causing damage and making the boat unsafe to operate. Proper maintenance of the rudder stock stuffing is crucial to ensure it remains effective in preventing water ingress and protecting the integrity of the vessel.
For a while now aboard Hannah, we have had a slow drip from the rudder stock. Now that we are hauled out of the water we can go about replacing the rudder stock stuffing without worrying about water coming into the boat.
On a Camper and Nicholson 38, the rudder stock is accessible in a little cupboard in the aft cabin.
Inside you’ll see the stock with the stuffing box at the bottom.
The top part is the stuffing box body itself, which holds the packing material and can be turned to compress down onto the thread within.
Once the packing material is inserted into the upper half, the lower nut is done up to prevent the upper stuffing box from working loose.
It took quite a bit of time with WD-40, some big wrenches, the occasional hammer tap and lots of wiggling, some light sandpaper, and patience to get the stuffing box all the way off the thread and up the rudder stock to make the packing material accessible.
Once accessible we tried a variety of tools to try and get the packing material out, but we settled on a fishing hook, which could easily grab the material and enable you to pull it out.
Once out you can easily see how old the material was and why it might be letting water through. It was very dry and quite thin and we imagine water could pass right through it now.
In total there were two complete sections of packing material that went into the stuffing box, with an offset overlap between them.
To replace the packing material you need to buy the right size.
We had no specifications to work on and failed to find the information online so made some guesses and after wrongly guessing at 6mm we found that 5mm was the right size for this Camper and Nicholson 38 stuffing box. (6mm was way too big, not a chance of getting that in there)
We are happy to announce that since replacing the stuffing box packing material, not a single drip has been seen 🙂🙂