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How bad is this? (Cutlass bearing, shaft, strut etc.)

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Sunday,  I managed to lift the boat with the prop resting on a  the boat lift cross member.  Yep, not smart.  The prop's off and being repaired.  This evening I decided to crawl under the boat with the idea of checking the shaft visually, and to decide whether to get a dial indicator on it.  The pics show what I found.  The strut is slightly bent, and the cutless bearings appear to be totally shot, nothing is concentric.  This makes me think it's not the lift accident that caused this.  The boat had been running fine, no vibration.

I'm assuming I shouldn't be able to see daylight through the strut along the shaft?  :( What's a cutlass bearing supposed to look like in terms of diameter?  How do I get these out?  I'm hoping the prop shop can also repair the strut.  How easy is it to remove that?  The six cross head screws look in great condition.  Boat is a 2000 Sportster. 

Your collective web wisdom would be appreciated.  Thanks.

All three images: https://imgur.com/gallery/GJo9Hbm

Individual: View from right of rudder, looking forward: https://imgur.com/DI2SQlV,  View from left, shows not concentric! https://imgur.com/aEyIkeW, View from left, I see daylight :( https://imgur.com/HEOs6tK

Edited by Dampsquid
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The daylight is fine.  The bearing is set up to allow water to flow through it which then gets drawn in between it and the shaft, with the water acting as the lubricant.


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The cutlass bearings have been shot for a while it appears. A set of 2 for my buds Tige was like $35.00 from skidim.com IIRC. They are press fit in from both ends. You will have to insert a removal tool of some sort in the opposite end of the housing to hit the leading edges of the bearing on the opposite side to knock them out of the shaft housing. I used a combination of brass punches to knock the old ones out being careful not to scuff up the inner surface. Once you get one out the other one is a little easier to work on. Shoot some lube of some sort in there to help the process. To install the new ones I made sure to line up the bearing as straight as possible with the housing. I used piece of 2x4 so as to not crush the bearing and finessed it in. Once you get it started it goes in fairly easily the rest of the way. Repeat for the other side. The cutlass bearing strut,  I haven’t messed with, but it is like any other strut to mess with. Once you remove the screws if it is anything like a rudder assembly you will be cussing to break the bond between the housing and the hull. I ended up using a putty knife to score around the perimeter of the sealant and against my better judgement driving it in with a plastic hammer to break the bond between the hull and the rudder housing. The strut is going to be @ $450.00 if you have to replace it and there are a few places to observe that process. A DD will be a walk in the park compared to a VD! Good luck. Bill

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Because you have to fix the cutlass housing I would wait to replace/reinstall the bearings until after you get the housing back. I am guessing they will have to heat it to straighten it. Doing it in a vice will be a lot easier than doing it on your back under the boat.

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Pictures are not the best, but it appears that the cutlass bearings are worn out.  You can either take the strut off and take it to a shop and have it straightened in a press or buy a new one.  Just do not use heat to straighten if you go that route.  Good luck and happy and safe boating!

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