Matt Harwood

Water pump packing

Recommended Posts

I have a water pump that's very leaky. I think this image asks the question better than words can:

 

WaterPump1.thumb.jpg.13edde774b31bf28ba00bbd62c9f82c8.jpg

 

I've never done packing on a water pump before, but I ordered some 1/8" graphite packing material from Restoration Supply. Right now, the pump is leaking significantly enough that I expect the cooling system to be empty by morning. Thoughts?

 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 You are correct about adding packing material.  Using calipers, measure diameter.  Multiple by 3.14.  You will need to back the nut out.

Cut the length at a 45 degree angle and install by lapping the cut to assure full thickness packing. 

It's not hard to do but can be tricky if you have never done it before simply because it's tight.  Not trying to give an idiot lesson.

 

I personally prefer Teflon packing.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the shaft has irregularities in it from the packings over the years you can pack it every day and it won't help.

Over the years we overhauled many irrigation pumps.

Plain old gray, graphited, braided packing has been the gold standard for packings for a very long time.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should I remove any leftover packing that's in there?

 

I ordered the graphite packing after reading on this board that the teflon wasn't ideal.

 

Thanks guys!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If what's left seems soft(ish) it's probably OK to leave it.

On the other hand some water pumps use a lantern ring between two stacks of packings for lubrication in which case it would be best to start over.

By removing the existing packings you'll get an idea of the condition of the shaft.

lantern ring.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Should I remove any leftover packing that's in there?

Yes. And it is normal to put in three pieces, each equal to one circumference. That makes it hard to get the nut on. It can be easier to put one in, compress it with the nut, then the second, compress it with the nut, then the third and do up the nut just enough to stop the drip. As above, the shaft must be smooth.

 

Make sure you keep that graphite cord lubricated so it doesn't promote rust in the shaft when its lubricant dries out.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I agree with Spinney, especially about compressing one ring before adding the next, but suggest using a little water pump grease on the shaft before adding the first circle of packing.  EVERY Old Car Person needs this experience!  And carry some extra packing and a little w/p grease in the car.  I use a film canister (remember those?) inside a small ziplock bag for the grease.  Film canisters are also handy for hiding parking meter change from prospective thieves, but I'm expecting to find them in antique shops any day now. Turn down the gland nut only barely enough to stop dripping, then again a few miles later when it starts to drip.  After three of these minimalist moves, you're set for a few thousand miles.

 

PLEASE remove the grease fitting and install a (turn-down) grease CUP.  The fitting is ONLY for use with the T-handle short grease gun that came with the car and which applies very low pressure compared to a lever-handle grease gun--the latter will blow your seals.

 

It's worth trying the original materials and techniques.  If your pump remains a leaker, it will probably need a rebuild including a new shaft, at which time it's best to use modern seals and sealed bearings instead of bushings--zero maintenance.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you should let it leak a tiny bit. Big irrigation pumps are ALWAYS left to drip a little, any tighter and it will burn up the packing and the shaft. I have always done the same with cars, and somehow I rarely seem to have much trouble.

 

A tiny drip is all it takes. It is kind of hard to see on my Pontiac, but I think I get a drop every 10 or 15 minutes. It always feels wet if I put my finger down there, but no antifreeze ever hits the ground.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 31 Auburn with this style water pump. Did a little bit  of machine work and installed a modern lip seal. Cannot be seen, judges well, doesn't leak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have to get the shaft right first.   That is the essential starting point.        Dismantle the water pump, and accurately measure what it should be.     Take Photographs so I can see where keyways and woodruff keys go.

Also I need to know  size and placement of any thread,   You need to give me enough information so I can make you a new shaft out of something like 4140 steel.    Then what I do is reduce the diameter slightly, build up the section which runs inside the pump with a Metco stainless steel coating.  I use an air-hardening phenolic sealer, because the coating is a coalescence of millions of molten droplets on the shaft.  Then I grind it between centres to the correct size.  The ground finish is very smooth, yet has miniscule pits in the ground surface which I generally wipe over with a suitable Teflon grease.    I rebuilt the water pump shaft of a 1920s Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.   I gave my friend instructions where to buy new packing, and how to cut and fit it.     A couple of years later I saw Des at a swap meet: he told me that the pump leaked  just an occasionally on the ground when it was standing,   It turned out that Des had forgotten to buy packing form the farm store, and had forgotten to instruct anyone to fit the packing.    The new shaft I shall make and post to you will be better and last far longer than a new original shaft, and it will cost you nothing.  It is for goodwill.     Some people make this type of water pump shaft out of stainless steel, and that  gets hot.    Regards......

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t offer much except to say you guys really know your water pump stuff!  That’s what I like about this site, the knowledge and experience is incredible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgot to say, when you put in those three rings of packing, offset the joins by 120o - one at 12 o'clock say, one at 4, one at 8.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the square graphite packing. Miter cut the rings on a diagonal and as Spinneyhill mentioned, orient them so they don't overlap (12, 4 and 8 o'clock). Square packing is at McMaster-Carr.

 

 

PumpPacking.jpg

Edited by Friartuck (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the advice. I'm going to try the packing before I tear it apart to replace the shaft. It was holding and working until the generator was removed to be rebuilt so I'm hoping that the packing was just shot. I ordered the 1/8" graphite packing from Restoration Supply, and on the advice above, I'm going to also order a proper grease cup and some water pump grease from the same place this week. I'd like to do it right. I'm optimistic that I can get it sealed up and working right.

 

I'm betting that when I get to the shop tomorrow morning, the cooling system will have pretty much drained itself into the pan I put under it (although the engine holds 8 gallons and my pan was only 5). Instead of instantly refilling it I'm going to fix the packing, get the system sealed up, then fill it with some dilute Evapo-rust and let that circulate in there for a few days. I'll add the sock filter Grimy recommended as well to catch all the trash. Hopefully those steps will help it run a little cooler. I might back-flush it after the Evapo-Rust, too. Can't hurt.

 

I note that the radiator shutters seem to be working, but the hood vents are also thermostatically controlled and it appears that someone tried to permanently fix them in the open position, so I'll look into that, but obviously open is good. 

 

Anyway, it's just waiting for parts now. Hopefully before Wednesday so I can work all day Wednesday, but if not, it'll have to wait until next weekend. I have a few other tasks I want to get done before I take it to a CCCA Grand Classic on the 14th.

 

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt

 

Your mention of thermostatically controlled hood vents has caught my attention.

 

Exactly what are you working on ?

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, autoluke said:

Matt

 

Your mention of thermostatically controlled hood vents has caught my attention.

 

Exactly what are you working on ?

 

Phil

 

1935 Lincoln K. The radiator has the usual shutters controlled by a thermostat, but it also has a thermostat on each hood side that controls the vents there as well. I have not driven my car enough to know whether they work, but they seem to have springs attached to them designed to hold them open and when they're removed, the shutters are a little floppy. My guess is that the thermostats controlling the hood shutters are inop since they seem to be mostly open all of the time. Here's a page from the manual describing it (with a helpful diagram!).

 

ManualPage1.thumb.jpg.bac1e587f01f8d1c55526f06c139159d.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The water pump graphite cord showed up today and I'm getting ready to try to seal it up. Just to confirm, the best way is to cut small lengths that match the circumference of the water pump shaft? I've seen others do it by simply winding the graphite string around the shaft a few times then reinstalling the packing. Would that be incorrect? 

 

What is the best way to maximize my chances of success?


Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a perfect world you would do it EXACTLY like Friartuck's illustration. I always had the angle cut and overlap 90 degrees from the way he did it, but I doubt it makes much difference and thinking about it now, his way might be slightly better.

 

That assumes that you have the right size packing, and since you didn't take it apart ahead of time, I doubt it. If you can't do it Friartuck's way, then dig anything out that is hard and rocklike (or dig it all out),, and cram some packing in there any way you can. You don't want one layer with a square cut if you can help it. Multiple layers, even if you have to cut up the packing to do it, or you just might have to wind it around there if the packing is way too small. Take Spineyhills advice and don't try to get it all in at once.

 

Be nice to the shaft. Put some water pump grease on it. Final adjustment should still have a slow drip.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Bloo. I have 1/8" square graphite packing, which looks like what came out of there (although there was virtually none left. Shaft looks clean and not pitted. We're going to try to use Friartuck's technique and see how it goes. My fingers tend to fumble when it's that small, but using some water pump grease (which I also purchased) should act as a bit of an adhesive to keep it in place. If I fail two or three times, then I might resort to the spiral technique, but that will only be out of frustration. I want to get this right.

 

Thanks for the quick feedback--I'm off the workshop!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? This is how much space I have to work with? Is this normal? How am I going to get fingers in there?!?

 

 

Really.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep. That is it. Sharpen your fingers. LoL! One circle at a time, then push in with the nut. This is an exercise in frustration breeding (im)patience. Your back will not be thanking you for spending an hour leaning in there either.

 

Enjoy your day!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what's the math, because obviously I'm failing. I went from ready to work to "screw this" in about 15 minutes.

 

My calipers say the shaft is 15mm in diameter (I'm using millimeters to make the math and measuring easy--1.65 inches isn't so easy to find on a ruler). The formula for circumference is diameter x pi, or 15mm times 3.1415, which is about 48mm. So I cut a 50mm chunk and figure I'll trim it and sneak up on a perfect fit. Unfortunately, the 50mm piece is about 10mm too short. What am I doing wrong? I'm good at math, but something's not adding up and I'm pretty close to just wrapping it around the shaft a few times and cranking the hell out of the nut and living with the leak. 

 

15mm x 3.1415 = 47.8mm. A 50mm long piece of packing doesn't even come close to wrapping all the way around the shaft. Where am I going wrong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now