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.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Project Creep sets in on the engine haul - arrgh!

After discovering the alarming state of the shaft seal hose clamps (see post - Have you checked you hose clamps recently?), I reviewed the installation data on the PYI-PSS Shaft Seal and learned that they recommend the replacement of the bellows every 6 years.   Well we are currently at the five year mark and replacing the bellows requires pulling the shaft couple or the prop and rudder. Since only the shaft couple stood between me and the replacement of the bellows, I ordered an new bellows and set to removing the couple on the shaft.  The couple (pictured below) links the shaft to the transmission on the engine.  Two set screws secure the couple to the shaft. How hard can it be?

3/8" stainless steel bolts connect the puller on left and the shaft couple on the right
The boatyard loaned me a puller and a small copper sledge hammer.  I spent three cramped and sweaty hours coaxing the couple off the shaft.  Pullers and shaft couples now reside in my nightmares.  In the end persistence won out... 
shaft attachments from left to right (or stern to bow) - shaft seal bellows with hose clamps above; carbon rotor of shaft seal; stainless rotor of shaft seal; and couple with set screws above
I presented the liberated couple to the boat yard staff along with the borrowed puller and hammer.  The boat yard then informed me of the need to "face" the couple prior re-installation.  Facing the couple requires a metal lathe to clean up any irregularities in forward surface.  Couple in hand I set off to the machine shop where I was informed that facing the couple also required the shaft.  And back to the boat...

Ever supportive, the boat yard staff now loaned me a prop puller.  Fortunately the prop succumb to removal efforts in under an hour.

Shaft in tow, I returned to the machine shop.  Noting some wear on the shaft, Fred, the machinist, knitted his brow as he inquired as to the age of the shaft.  We replaced the shaft five years ago.  The wear on the shaft was isolated to the section of the shaft in contact the our cutlass bearing.  So with the encouragement of Fred and the boat yard staff, I set about removing the cutlass bearing.

Fortunately an overnight of rest separated my couple and shaft pulling from my cutlass bearing removal.

shaft long atop and cutlass bearing in my hand
Par for the course, the cutlass bearing required hours of effort and extreme measures to remove.  The shaft log is a bronze tube that lines the hole in the hull through which the drive shaft passes.  The cutlass bearing is a  bronze tube lined with rubber flanges that minimizes wear on the prop shaft as it passed through the log. Water serves as a lubricant in the cutlass bearing.  C'est la Vie's log is in good condition. We will replace the cutlass bearing.

We have now reached a point where every component of the engine and drive system are removed from the boat.  It is time be begin to rebuild!

More images from the project are available via our photo album - Engine Haul Project - fall 2012


  1. In a previous life I ran mechanical maintenance in a steel mill. One of the things you become thoroughly familiar with is installing and removing couplings. We were always very liberal with the anti-sieze when installing a coupling. You're relying on the interference fit and usually a keyway for the power transmission, so the goal was to minimize corrosion and make sure it was still removable after a few years. Haven't had to deal with this yet on boats, but it's coming up.

  2. It was very informative and I also digg the way you write! Keep it up and I’ll be back to read more soon mate.

  3. JP - thanks for the suggestion. There will definitely be some anti-seize included in the rebuild. Is your M34 purchase still on course? Saw you posted a question on the M34 Yahoo Users Group. Please keep me updated on your purchase and projects.