C'est la Vie is a 1966 Charlie Morgan 34.

Her home port is Everglades City, FL. Our typical cruising area is Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, the Southeastern Atlantic Seaboard, and the Bahamas. We are C'est la Vie's third owners and purchased her in 2005. We continue to maintain and update this classic vessel. Please post any questions or comments about C'est la Vie or our travels via the comment links below.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Have You Checked Your Hose Clamps Recently?

One of the few items remaining in C'est la Vie's engine compartment is the drive shaft.  The drive shaft is a solid stainless steel rod that connects the engine inside the boat to the prop outside the boat.
C'est la Vie's shaft and shaft seal were replaced in 2007 
 Traveling from the prop towards the engine, the point where the shaft passes through the hull it is supported by shaft log.  The log is a bronze tube with rubber bushings.  The log relies on water from outside the hull to serves as a lubricate thus reducing wear and friction. Directly forward of the log is our shaft seal.  The shaft seal allows the shaft to spin freely yet prevents water from entering the boat.   In 2007, we replaced the shaft, shaft log, and the shaft seal (here is a link to the photo album - Replace Shaft, Log, and Seal - fall 07

During the 2007 project, we purchased a PYI-PSS shaft seal and had the boat yard complete the installation work.  The shaft seal uses a rubber bellows as a spring to press a carbon flange against a spinning stainless steel rotor.  The carbon flange and stainless steel rotor are very smooth and when pressed together create a water proof seal.  As with any hole in the hull of the boat a failure of this system can cause the boat to sink.
the newly installed shaft seal - Fall 2007
Since all the components of the shaft system were new in 2007, I left them in place and did not intend to replace any parts.  My experience over the weekend has me questioning this decision.

C'est la Vie's Shaft Seal - Sept 30, 2012
While sanding between coats of primer in the bilge, I noticed a paint drip on the aft most of the shaft seal's four hose clamps.  Using a scotch bite scrubbing pad, I reached back to remove the paint drip.  Instantly the hose clamp broke in my hands. 

the  stainless steel hose clamp that broke in my hands after 5 years of
service on our shaft seal.
 Alarmed I grabbed a nut tool and attempted to loosen the other hose clamps for an inspection.  The very next hose clamp I touched, the forward most clamp, broke as I torqued on the hex head.  Yikes!  Failure of this clamps can sink the boat.  The clamps used on shaft seal were provided by the manufacturer, but are not of the quality I expect for critical through hull fittings.   Not all hose clamps are created equal.  

Without a doubt all hose clamps on board a boat should be stainless steel, but even among stainless clamps there is a broad spectrum of quality.  Clamps used in critical areas (i.e. through hull fittings, engine coolant lines, engine exhaust lines, black water systems, etc.) must be ABYC approved  316 stainless steel with a non-perforated band.    
an ABYC approved 316 SS hose clamp with a non-perforated bans will replace
the bands on our shaft seal.
How does one identify the various quality of clamps?  The easiest test is to run a magnet across all hose clamps on the boat.  If the magnet is attracted to the clamp then the clamp contains ferrous metal that will easily rust. Any clamp attracted to a magnet needs to be kicked off the boat ASAP.  I keep a magnet in my tool box expressly for testing hose clamps, bolts, screws, etc.  If any of these items do not pass the magnet test then off they go.

Hose clamps that will pass the magnet test are appropriate for non-critical boat systems (i.e. tank vent lines, fresh water plumbing, etc.).   If the clamp is destined for a system that is considered critical then it must pass two additional tests.  First is the band non-perforated?  A non perforated band is stronger, better resists rust, and provides more uniform pressure around a hose.  Secondly the hex head on the clamp must be 7mm.

I'm unsure if the 7mm hex head is a brand specific standard or if it is set by the ABYC.  All high quality AWAB Hose clamps have a 7mm head so I look to this as an identifying feature of high quality clamps.

If your using the 7mm head as standard of quality then I recommend purchasing a  flexible shaft 7mm nut tool  to compliment the clamps.  

It is worth noting an exception to my hose clamp rant.  As hose diameter increases to 2" or greater and/or if the hose has a wire for additional strength (e.g. engine exhaust systems), then t-bolt hose clamps are recommended due to their ability to provide increase pressure on the hose.  


  1. Has to be a huge relief to have caught that one, Jeff! Very helpful reminder. Loving the blog as I'm just closing on a '68 M34 this weekend. Thanks so much for all the time and effort on it.

  2. JP - hope the closing goes smoothly. What will the home port for your M34? Is it a turn key purchase or is this a project boat?

  3. Jeff we love the new look of the bog. I like metallurgy and your are exactly correct about running a magnet across the hose clamps.

  4. Definetly good stuff. for anyone interested, McMaster-Carr is a good source for AWAB brand clamps, they don't specify that it is this brand, but that is what they sell. good price as well