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FAQ: Stuffing Box, Flax Removing Tools


What is the best tool for removing the Flax from the Stuffing Box?


Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
FUNNY you should ask! THIS is what these "lists" SHOULD be all about: May I respectfully recommend Boat/US's (and I suppose other) marine supply shops SELL these goofy looking "flax picks and pullers" for JUST this problem!
Flax Pick: Item 282111, Boat/US $6.95
Flax Puller: Item 393080, Boat/US $10.95
Good Luck, Sam Collins, C-27 #2117, "Blue Dolphin", sandbarsam@homemail.com

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
I've always been successful getting it out with a very small flat-bladed screwdriver, holding the tool nearly parallel with the shaft, and scraping the stuff out as if the screwdriver were a chisel. It always came out in nearly one piece... just pulled it out and scraped a bit more to make sure the box was empty before re-stuffing it.
Norm Bernstein, 'Amoreena', C400 #105, msys@marisystems.com (Marisystems Inc.)

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
I use an awl, bent at the end to hook the stuff out. Cheaper than the tool at West Marine, and easier to use since the spirals on the extractor are nearly too big to fit down the side of the stuffing cap on my C30. Also I used the "green stuff" dripless packing last year from WM and it worked great.
bwheeler@clark.net (Brian Wheeler)

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
Get the largest fish hook you can find (preferably stainless steel, size 5/0) and straighten it out in a vice (some break, some don't. Please wear eye protection). Poke & pull as required to remove the old flax.
Charlie Pearsall, cpearsall@smcplus.com

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
Norm, Bob,
It depends on how old and badly deteriorated the flax is. Mine, like Norm's, came out no problem with a skinny long shafted electrician's screwdriver. BUT we had a guy in our yard that had several LAYERS of old flax PACKED rock solid real deep in the fitting that was "shiny" and almost IMPOSSIBLE to get a hold of. THAT'S when we went ahead and bought the $6.95 pic I mentioned in the other post with the sharp point and a curved end. Charlie Pearsall's fishhook will probably work the same way too.
SLCollins, sandbarsam@homemail.com

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
Hi all, I tried using a wine opener with great success, very easy and you probably have one already.
Adam, a-ellis@email.msn.com (a-ellis)

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
I picked up a bunch of different size and shaped dental picks at a local flea market - they cost a buck a piece, are made out of stainless steal don't rust, pretty strong and designed to work in small places - you can even put an edge on the scalers and they'll cut through the flax -
Dave, Second Wind, dpbcc@galaxy.net

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
I had the same problem last year with VERY HARD PACKED flax. Tried everything, including: the flax extractor (it snapped off from the strain), ...an awl with a bent tip (it only pulled up little threads of flax but couldn't get the main strip), ...a dental pick borrowed from a dentist friend (it broke), ...a small flat-blade screwdriver (couldn't get it under the flax), ...
Finally used needle-nosed pliers, the kind with the tips bent at about a 70-degree angle. I was able to drive the tips into the flax and rip it out. This tool also gets the flax out without scoring the shaft!
Hope this helps.
Victor, C27 "Prudence", Wickford, RI, vwm@gis.net

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
FYI, I tried one of the West flax pullers - I can't recall which one and it bent like aluminum foil. I ended up using a 3" drywall screw, which worked well.
Jim Overend, C36 #769 "Carrie B", jimo1999@yahoo.com

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
Last fall, when we hauled, I decided to repack the stuffing box just for the hell of it (never did that before). After trying to get the old flax out several different ways, I finally gave up. In the spring I'm going to try a small dry wall screw and see if that works. If that fails, then I guess I'll break down and get one of those flax extractors that are is the catalogues. I'm sure that someone out there has a neat little trick for extracting old flax.
Bob, G.V.Black C36 MKII #1720, ctaylor@george.lhi.net, Rogers City,MI

Subj: Re: Stuffing box, Flax Pullers
As far as Packing Removal Tools? Most are too large to fit or not strong enough. I made my own out of a coat hanger. Just a thought.
Ron, APACHE #788, ronphylhill@erols.com

Important: The opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors to this page, and not those of the Catalina 34 National Association or Catalina Yachts, Inc. Additionally, this material has not been reviewed by Catalina Yachts, Inc. for technical accuracy. This page's maintainer cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information or the desirability of suggested modifications or upgrades. Please obtain assistance from a competent marine mechanic or boatyard prior to making any significant modifications to your vessel.   


Last modified by Phil Imhof, Wednesday, August 11, 2004 . Copyright 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.