Saturday, April 2, 2016

Waxy toilet rings and emergency repairs

So two years ago I'm talking to this dude in a bar in Mission Beach, CA. I was telling him how we are getting ready to go cruising Mexico and he informed me that he recently returned to San Diego after cruising for 2 years in the South Pacific. We were talking about spare parts and emergency kits and he goes into a rant about how I need to buy a crap-ton of toilet wax rings. If you dont know what these are, they are made of rubber and wax and used to seat toilets (in houses) to the drains.




He was telling me how the magical wax on these rings could be pulled off and used in emergencies to seal up busted thru hulls, holes, and propeller shafts. I thought he was nuts.

Fast forward to about a week ago. We start taking on water through a crack in our stern log.  If you dont know what a stern log is, it's the tube that the propeller shaft runs through to exit the boat. We were able to get our boat safely to a dock, but I soon realize that the only way to repair the stern log is to take off the stuffing box. Well, the problem here is that the stuffing box is the seal that prevents water from pouring into your boat through the stern log.



So as I'm considering the real possibility of sinking my boat in the slip at the marina, I remember the crazy dude I met in San Diego two years ago and his waxy toilet donuts.  As it turns out, my mechanic friend in town has a couple of these laying around and gives me two.

I then get everything ready for disaster. I borrow extra bilge pumps, have rolls of rescue tape on standby, and come up with a backup plan to run the boat aground in the lagoon if water pours in the way I am imagining that it might. Under the boat I go and pack the sticky wax around the prop shaft and in the weep holes. Then comes the moment of truth. The stuffing box comes off and not a drop of water is coming in the boat! This stuff really is magic. I ended up having to trim 6 inches off the stern log since the end of it literally disintegrated after I took off the stuffing box.  Side note: the previous owner must have changed the shaft angle when he installed new engine mounts and the shaft was wearing on the bronze stern tube to where nothing was left. Thankfully, there was enough tube to trim back to where it was not longer making contact. The repair took a couple of hours, with not a drop of water in the boat the whole time. The stuff even pulled right off when I was done without a mess.

So a big shout out to you, Dude that I met in a bar in Mission beach. Your idea saved our bacon and I will now always carry magicial toilet wax in my emergency kit.

17 comments:

  1. Interesting. Sounds better than all those specialty made devices since the stuff can be formed as needed. May go pick one or two up. BTW, you can buy them without the plastic part...just a wax ring...and they should be even cheaper that way.

    -Mike
    ThisRatSailed

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    1. Yeah, I saw that you can get just the wax. Then you can just wad it all together and keep it in a bag so it doesnt dry out.

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  2. The wax is also great for seating in-hull transducers that shoot through the hull. One tip - wear latex or similar gloves because it gets on everything!

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    1. Good advice. The stuff is sticky and nasty!

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  3. Some enterprising individual realized how valuable that stuff was so it's now available in a 32 oz. tub. http://www.landfallnavigation.com/stayafloat.html

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    1. Yes, and since it's labeled for marine use, it costs twice as much!!

      29 cents per ounce from Amazon.

      http://www.amazon.com/Fluidmaster-7510-Toilet-Bowl-Gasket/dp/B0053ETTA0/ref=zg_bs_3226970011_4

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    2. That funny, I was thinking I should buy a container of these and repackage them as "Phil's magic marine paste" and sell it for $30 a tub. They beat me to it.

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  4. One of the best boat spare parts tips I'be ever heard! Thanks!

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  5. Bronze shaft logs are subject to electrolysis degradation same as props. From your description it may need to be changed out on your next haul especially if the vessel is over 25 years old. direct contact with a stainless shaft can speed up the Process. If the bronze has a reddish tint it is well on it's way out.

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    1. Thanks! I am going to have a look and reevaluate when we haul out in June.

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  6. The wax is great stuff! I use it to seal where my mast goes through the deck of my Columbia 43. More about it on my blog:
    http://hagothlog.blogspot.com/2013/10/chainplates-mast-boots-making-oceanus_7.html
    http://hagothlog.blogspot.com/2015/05/tales-and-tips-from-our-haulout.html
    Love your blog! Hope to see you sometime if we decide to cruise Mexico.

    Brandon and Virginia

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    1. Thanks for the feedback and nice blog! Hope to see you down here!

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  7. I love this. Suspense, action, danger. A guy in a bar. Exciting!!!

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  8. Thanks for this Terrapin! I've put a few in our Amazon cart!

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