Cutlass Bearing Replacement

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General Method:

by Toivo Mykkanen, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

After pulling the shaft, another way of removing the bearing is by using a long threaded rod as a puller to force the cutlass bearing into a 6 inch piece of pipe on the end of the strut. The threaded rod goes through a deep well socket, through the cutlass bearing, and through the pipe. Turning the nuts on each end of the threaded rod push the cutlass bearing into the pipe. Very slick.


Getting Ready:

  1. Remove the Prop and the Cutlass Set Screw (if there is one).
  2. Remove the Prop Shaft. If you have the flange frozen to the shaft refere to method of removal at the below web site. See the Flange Removal method at
  3. Inspect the Prop Shaft. If it is galled at the cutlass interface, it will need to be replaced. Go for Stainless Steel as it is sweet! This might also be a good time to upgrade to the PSS Shaft Seal. (I did that and have not seen a drop of water come through it! ) (PYI has shafts and seals. Very good customer service.)
  4. Spray Triflow or WD40 in the strut set screw hole and on the ends, and let it set a day if you can.
  5. Find a one-half inch drive deepwell socket that is bigger than the outside of the cutlass bearing, but smaller than the bore of the strut opening. (This socket will push the cutlass bearing out. It should hit the metal of the bearing, but be smaller than the strut bore.) Also buy a 6 inch piece of pipe with an inside diameter bigger than the cutlass bearing. I bought a threaded piece of 1.5 inch inner diameter water pipe.
  6. Buy two feet of threaded rod. Use the biggest size that will fit through the half-inch drive deep well socket. (I used 5/16) Also buy 3 or 4 nuts that fit the rod, and a collection of washers that are slightly smaller than the size of the deepwell socket. You will also need one washer that is bigger than the inside of the pipe, and possibly additional washers to get you up that size.

Assembling the Puller:

  1. On one end of the threaded rod, jam two nuts tightly together to form a jam nut.
  2. Slide increasing size washers on the rod until you put on the biggest washer.
  3. Slide on the pipe. The biggest washer should keep it from falling off.
  4. Slide the rod and pipe combination into the cutlass bearing.
  5. Now slide on the deep well socket.
  6. Add the washers smaller than the socket and a nut.

The Pull:

  1. Put a touch of triflow or grease on the rod, and then put wrenches on each end of the rod. Start tightening down. You will have to keep the contraption aligned until it is under tension. This is the only slightly tricky part.
  2. As the cutlass bearing start to slide out, you may need to add some extension sockets to push the cutlass all the way out. This is because the deep well socket is not as long as the cutlass bearing and strut.

By now you should really be enjoying that beer! I used this same method to slide the new one on. Just put grease on the new bearing and it slides right in. No worries about what might have cracked with pounding, so have another beer!

Remove the Shaft First

by Ron Hill, Apache #788

I've been watching the traffic on this topic with interest. I wrote an article on that subject in the Feb.97 Mainsheet so please check the online Tech. notes.

As far as I know the factory uses a strut for a C34 that requires the cutless (not cutlass-as in sword) that has NO set screws and must be pressed in.

A number of Fleet 12 owners have replaced theirs by pulling the shaft out past the rudder. Just remember to shine and grease the shaft on the engine side of the strut or you'll have a tough time getting the shaft to slide thru the rubber cutless bearing.

Always hacksaw the TOP of the bearing to collapse it for removal. (If you are using this method)

Although I've never tried it, I understand that if you freeze the cutless bearing (stay above +10 degrees F.) and submerse the strut in boiling water for a few minutes before assembling. The bearing will press in much easier.

When you have the shaft out, check its round by rolling it on a pool table or another flat surface. Also check the shaft wear at the cutless position with a micrometer and make sure you won't have a sloppy fit with the new bearing. In either case if it's questionable replace it with a stainless shaft. Call Marvin at Catalina parts and give him the length of the 1" ss. shaft you need by measuring the old one (believe it'll be about 55").

Comment: Yes, the shaft will come out past the rudder....BUT........the main point is you do not have to remove the shaft to change the bearing! Undo the set screws and slide the bearing out .... little persuasion .... reverse procedure to install. If you do have to remove the shaft for another reason then it is best to remove the bearing first to give the extra clearance past the rudder. Same procedure either way.

Gary Wiseman, Up Spirits #894

Another Method for Removing and Installing the Bearing, "Pound Free"

by Capt Al Watson, Kindred Spirit #55

Very important to remember to shine and grease the shaft on the engine side of the strut or you'll have a tough time getting the shaft to slide thru the rubber cutless bearing as Ron said. I tried it without any grease and it would not pass by the rudder...too much friction. I slid it back in and greased it up and tried it came out so fast that I ended up on my ass.

I chose to hacksaw the TOP of the bearing and collapsed it for removal. This worked great. Make sure that you do not cut into the strut!

Installing the new Bearing

I used a simple threaded rod, washers, nuts and a socket wrench to install the bearing. It was pressed in on the engine side by tightening up the nut on the rudder side. Important to keep everything STRAIGHT as it is being installed. See the picture below. Worked Great!

This was done after freezing it and assuming it would slide in with a few pounds of the hammer. That method did not work, so...use the threaded pounding or freezing required.


Commercial Products for Removing the Cutless Bearing

Global Marine Industries, Inc. makes a tool to help remove the cutless bearing. To get more information, please see their web page: