Something I Learned A Long Time Ago


I have absolutely no problem telling someone I don’t know how to do something or am unsure of what I am doing.

I learned this lesson the hard way more than once until I learned to swallow my pride.

I have also run into people in positions of authority who blew me off because either they couldn’t answer my questions or wouldn’t take the time to explain something to me after I asked for help.

The ones that really piss me off are the ones who blow through an explanation so fast that you couldn’t possibly retain the information and then look at you like you are an idiot when you ask them to slow down and repeat it.

These people are assholes.

If someone comes to me asking for help on something I know about I will go out of my way to make sure they understand what I am trying to teach them.

If they come back again and are still having problems I will stop what I am doing and help them again until they get it right.

I consider myself to be Old School at this point because all of the younger people I work with are freakin’ computer geniuses compared to what I know but have never heard of some things that were around long before I was born and you will run into occasionally.

Let me give you a perfect example.

How many of you know what this is and what it is used for?



If you know the answer to that then you can officially consider yourself to be an Old Fart.

Try asking anyone under forty years old what that is and you will get a blank stare.


I had to explain what that is and how to use it to a forty year old guy last night who is actually a pretty good wrench turner.

30 thoughts on “Something I Learned A Long Time Ago

  1. I’d think its either

    # a heat resistant seal for furnace and stuff (after those same quite cancerous asbestos strings have been outlawed) or

    # this “rope” has to be embedded in a groove where some heavy flat surface has to glide over it. The graphite would then work as some sort of dry lubricant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are pretty much correct with your second guess. It is called mechanical packing and was used for many different things. It was cut into circles with overlapping ends around valve shafts, propeller shafts on ships and things of that nature. Then a gland nut was tightened down, squeezing it tightly against the shaft to seal it


    • I can remember stuffing some 1/2 inch packing around a four inch propeller shaft on a tugboat once. In the middle of the Columbia river.
      We damn near sank before we got done because the bilge pump couldn’t keep up anymore. It was all about wrap a bunch of it around the shaft, cut it and ram it in with a hammer and a screwdriver until we got enough in it that we could slam the gland nut in and catch a thread. The whole time we were drifting down stream in the shipping channel.
      Fun times.
      I had never heard of it until that day but I’m here to tell you I learned real quick.


  2. Looks like valve stem packing to me. I always buy the out graphite kind at the hardware store. Seems to work a lot better than the new fangled stuff. I guess I am an old fart at 64………..


      • Taminator, you came very close. While this is used for valve stem
        packing, it is more commonly used to seal pump shafts. Cut to
        proper length with diagonal cut ends, they are pushed between
        the shaft and the packing box. This type of packing uses something
        called a lantern ring which is typically a split Teflon spacer with holes
        that allow a slow drip of water to cool the rotating shaft. The industry
        standard is 2 packing rings, the lantern ring, and 3 more packing rings.

        There is a drain hole on the bottom packing gland which is snugged
        up while the pump is running to achieve about 6 or 8 drops per
        minute. Too tight and you can wipe out the shaft seal sleeve and
        too lose, you lose you end up leaking whatever product is running
        through the pump.


  3. Wow, that is modern stuff, I recall oakum with white grease twisted into cord as oil pan seals, granted this was in a third world country, but hey, it worked good enough. I use something similar in fixing older water taps and fixtures only it is round instead of square, and that same white grease oakum was used to seal the threads on water pipes too.


  4. Bullet point
    The Allegory of the Cave written by Plato some 2,500 years ago is more telling of what is happening today as I suppose it was then in his time and still hold true today. I paraphrase, three men are chained up and can only see shadows on a wall. They try to determine what the shadows mean. One of them is set free and sees the shadow are not what they had imagined, but completely different. He returned to be chained up with the other two again and tells them the true meaning of the shadows. The other two don’t believe him. Now imagine there are three hundred and some odd million all chained up and can only see the shadows, then try to figure out what the shadows mean. Then one of them gets free and tries to tell the other three hundred and some odd million people of the United States of America that what they imagine the shadows mean is not what they really are. The shadows are the shadow government that is representative of a very few that owe nothing and control everything and ultimately will own everything.

    Oh, by the way, graphite rope, packing when mixed with oil is like ink. Tighten packing gland until it don’t turn, back off a tad and crank her couple up. Then tighten until it don’t leak. Also, used on air compressors, vacuum and water, pumps and a multitude of other sealing applications.Then GOD invented the lip seal and “O”.”O” rings.
    Joe X


  5. I’ve never heard of this stuff before. But since it’s graphite, and a packing material, I’d guess it’s for something that needs a high-temperature , pressure-tight seal. Jet engines use what we used to call ‘carbon seals’. Carbon, graphite; same thing, more or less.

    Slippery, too. “Liquid graphite’ is a great dry lubricant for cold climates or desert areas. It won’t freeze or catch grit.

    OT, but wtf.

    The SCOTUS administered one hell of a beating to the Dems and labor unions yesterday with their ruling in the Janus case.

    The Democratic Party is bleeding money from its carotid artery. It will take 20 years for them to heal from this.


  6. Used as the rear main (crankshaft) oil seal on every Pontiac V8 ever made, and many, many others.

    After you’ve pulled your recently rebuilt engine because of a rear main seal leak, you’ll appreciate how to properly install it.

    And Phil and I would be happy to teach you……


    • Early small-block Chebbys too.

      Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that once upon a time, YOU were the rookie on his first day at the job.


    • Sorry DrJim, I been to Grandma’s house before.
      General Motors wasn’t the only one who used that shit back in the day for rear mains and I have changed several over the years.


  7. As an employer, that’s one of the first things I try to impress on a new hire.
    I tell them to listen carefully to my instructions because all the info they need to complete the task will be in those instructions.
    Just because you don’t understand something and need a bit more info doesn’t mean you’re stupid.
    What makes you stupid is continuing with a task knowing you don’t have a clue about how to do it.


  8. Steam valve packing glands.
    Not put in like a spiral.
    Each ring fitted so that the ends are square cut and carefully butted together and the gaps are staggered.
    And I could go out into one of the toolboxes and get a packing puller.
    Even though it’s been years and years since I needed a packing puller.!2966!3!50916695157!!!g!82166617077!&ef_id=WyQK1gAADLs955J_:20180629113656:s


  9. I work in a brand new plant in toil sands and we still use graphite rope packing around shafts for the tank mixers and we use flat graphite sheeting for sealing the boiler manways.


  10. You have all the tools for everything, Phil. That’s so admirable. Aren’t you glad (referring to an earlier post about all the stuff you’ve accumulated) you got all those tools ??? It sure makes things easier when you have the right tools. Nice job.


  11. Lot of guesses. Graphite packing , used for shaft seals on hydraulic pumps back in the day. Flax is used for old time water pumps and modern stuffing boxes on propeller shafts on boats. oakum is used on wooden hulls for ships between the planking to stop leakage along with white lead in some instances. lead seals were used o old plumbing joints when clay lopes orange berg and possible some cast iron sewer pipes. All this was most effective and can still be used today by skilled artisans.


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