Sabb Engine Shaft Packing

Because the Sabb engine has a rather unique controllable variable pitch prop and shaft assembly, this message is primarily directed towards owners of boats fitted with Sabb G and GS engine.

I recently packed the stuffing box with three rings of flax packing formed by cutting three lengths of 1/4" X 1/4" x 4 5/15" packing. regardless of how many attempts I made, the end result was a stuffing box which dripped at a rate of between one drop every second to one drop every 10 seconds. According to Sabb America, the stuffing box should not leak. I even packed the stuffing box with a length of packing such that about three wraps were formed around the shaft - per Sabb America’s instructions. This also resulted in a stuffing box that dripped at too high a rate.

An engineer friend suggested I use one of the greasers on the shaft/prop to pack the shaft log with grease. I did this and the stuffing box stopped leaking ~ about 1 cartridge of Shell Retinax LC II grease. He also suggested I use a Teflon (PTFE) impregnated synthetic fiber packing instead of the the flax packing I currently am using.

Wax Wings and Calypso, what is your experience packing the stuffing box??? Any suggestions or magic is appreciated.

I have had no problems at all with the flax packing. I do use the grease cup(large black plastic) and give it a twist ever couple of hours of opertion or once every couple of weeks in port.

I also keep grease in the small cup attached to the bearing-gland on the shaft, although this rarely requires any tightening.

To me the test of a correct packing is a cool running shaft. If you put your hand on the bearing-gland(where the shaft exits the hull) while running it should be cool or just a little warm…never hot.

I think the biggest problem with shaft packing is making it too tight initially. After installing new packing it should be ‘run in’ by use…gradually taking a 1/8 turn on the packing nut until the dripping slows to just a few drops(3 to 6)per minute is achieved. This should reduce itself to zero withing an hour or two after the engine is shut down. With a greased bearing you may not get any dripping at all but so long as the shaft stays cool it is okay.

If the packing is ever tightened too much and the shaft runs hot it is ruined(IMHO) and will have to be repacked; it doesn’t realllly expand back. And once it is ‘scortched’ it won’t seal again without overtighening.


Thanks for the reply and information. The Sabb owners manual has a contradition in the greasing schedule for the stuffing box and prop hub. In the front section of the manual the schedule is every 5 hours and in the another section, Sabb states grease the stuffing box once per day. When I changed the stuffing box greasing schedule to once per day, that is when the stuffing box started leaking.

Because grease oozed from the stuffing box when motoring, I built a removable “diaper” holder under the stuffing box and clutch housing. I line this with two absorbent white pads, to stop grease from dripping into the bilge.

Again, thanks.

The following image was taken while at anchor in the Bohemia River, Chesapeake Bay. The BCC anchored off our port bow is “August Dame.” Rod and Yvonne purchased her new in 1981 and have cruised her since 1997. They cruise about six months of the year, then return to their home in Las Vegas to work part-time and relax. We sailed in company with them on our recent trip to Cape May, New Jersey. They are wonderful people.

Fair Winds,


I know this is an old post but seems to fit my question…
I have a Sabb “G” type with a variable pitch prop. There are two grease cups, a large black one for the prop in the aft lazarette, and a smaller brass one for the stuffing box attached with about 2 feet of copper tube.
I have removed the 2 feet of tubing from the smaller one because the cup had water in it. (for 2nd time. I completely cleaned when I 1st got the boat.) I have now moved the cup to the stuffing box and now have a bead of grease around the shaft and the stuffing box… does this sound right?



Semper Fi