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May 23, 2010

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Mark - how much play is allowed? Should there be no play at all? I can move the drive shaft on my 10yr old Beneteau sailboat up and down ever so slightly, but I am not noticing any increase in vibration. What are the signs that it is time to replace it?

When the bearing is new and the shaft not at all worn then there should be no play what so ever. As soon as a little play develops then the shaft spinning around at say 1500 revolutions per minute will slowly continue to wear away as the bearing. If the boat is operated in silty water then the wear will be increased. As a surveyor all too often I see bearings that are worn that should have been replaced but the owner puts it off 'until next year' which sadly never comes along. At this point the wear is so bad that the vibration is doing damage to the stuffing box and engine mounts not to mention the wear on the shaft. I feel that if there is any play then go ahead and replace it, it can't do any harm and in the end could save you a whole load of grief to you, your wallet and your boat.

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