How To Make A Rubber Gasket For A Boat Engine

When a boat engine springs a leak it could be a failing gasket. Gaskets, or O-rings, are used to seal two engine parts together. Gaskets are found between the pieces and parts of an engine and are not difficult to fix.

As a sailing cruiser you’ll often be forced to try and fix issues out at anchor or on passage. Thankfully, making a gasket is one of those jobs that is actually easy (provided you can get the part off)!

A few weeks ago we discovered a leak between our thermostat housing and the main engine. Until the leak existed I didn’t even know what a thermostat housing was!

That’s how we often learn – something breaks, we ask someone what it is and then the learning process evolves.

In this particular case we had guests arriving in two days and needed to fix the issue within 48 hours. As usual the issue developed over a weekend and it was impossible to get a professional out to the boat. Fortunately for us, however, our friend Tim came to the boat and offered to teach us how to make a gasket.

So…there’s two main materials you can use for creating a new gasket seal. One is a paper or cardboard type material and the other is rubber.

On this occasion we chose to use rubber due to the nature of the part. The thermostat housing is plastic and a rubber seal seemed like it would be more efficient than the paper option.

The process of creating a gasket, however, is very similar whether you use rubber or paper.

How To Make A Rubber Gasket For A Boat Engine Checklist

  • Remove the part to examine the leak in better detail.
  • Confirm that the leak is due to a failing gasket.
  • Clean the surface of the part – remove any remnants of the o-ring or gasket.
  • Clean the engine where the part is normally attached – again, remove any remnants.
  • Trace the part on paper.
  • Cut the paper out and trace onto the rubber gasket material.
  • Line the rubber up to the part and keep cutting it down until it fits well – use a hole punch to create openings for the screws/bolts/fittings.
  • Put the part back on the engine and test to see if the leak has stopped.
  • Order the correct o-ring or gasket or the part so you have it on hand if your gasket fails in the future.

How To Make A Rubber Gasket For A Boat Engine Checklist Video

So that’s how to make a rubber gasket for a boat engine! Knowing what we now know we recommend that you store both the paper and rubber gasket material onboard if you’re going on passages to remote locations.

It would be unfortunate to be anchored off a beautiful white beach in The Bahamas needing a new gasket and not having the materials to make one. The materials cost pennies to store but trying to get them in remote locations could be quite expensive!

Here are some gasket material options:


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Posted by The Sailing Traveller