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The Cutlass Bearing

The Cutlass Bearing

Replacing a cutlass bearing is not a tough project but does require some thought. On some boats the bearing is inside the dead wood making replacement more of a task than when it's mounted in a strut. These instructions deal with replacing a strut mounted cutlass bearing.

While there are some commercial tools designed for cutlass bearing removal they a bit pricey for a DIY to replace just one bearing. Some owners associations have purchased them and allow their members free use of the tool. The Catalina 34 organization owns one such tool. They work well however and don't require the shaft be removed, a big plus.

Occasionally when a bearing has been installed for a while they can become frozen or corroded in place. In these instances the shaft would need to be removed anyway even if you had a cutlass bearing tool. This article focuses on the removal of a cutlass bearing once the shaft has already been removed.

Cutlass vs. Cutless®

Before we move on I should address the issues of the words cutlass vs. Cutless®. The word Cutless® is a registered trademark of Duramax Marine® LLC. It is a BRAND NAME for a sleeve or stave bearing.

Duramax purchased this name, and product, from Firestone Rubber many years ago. When Firestone developed the product they named it the Cutless®. This is a branded product name. People call soda "Coke" all the time, even if it is not the brand they are drinking. In time the industry began using the spelling cutlass perhaps because a windlass is not a windless, I don't really know, but it happened.. The long and short is that over time the word spelled cutlass has become an industry wide accepted generic term whether Duramax likes this or not. It is very tough to change history after it has evolved........

It should be noted that Duramax strongly disagrees with anyone using the term Cutlass, with an "a", as they feel it is simply too close to the word Cutless®, which is their brand of stave or sleeve bearing. They feel using the word cutlass is intentionally misleading.

Duramax has been fighting hard to get anyone they can to stop using the word cutlass, including me. When I spoke with them I made sure to mention the bearing I used was not one of theirs, so if I used the word Cutless®, it would be false advertising and unfair to my readers. On top of that using the word Cutless® would be free advertising for Duramax.

I could really care less about the free advertising aspect, but if I did not use a Duramax bearing I am simply not going to call it a Cutless®. This is kind of like re-filling Heinz Ketchup bottles in a restaurant with generic ketchup. It's not Heinz, so why try to pretend it is... This bearing was not a Cutless®, so I am not going to call it one...

Duramax owns the rights to the word Cutless®, in many countries, though Australia recently shot them down because they feel the word cutlass is an accepted "generic" term..

The proper generic term for these bearings is stave bearing or sleeve bearing. So where's the rub? Sadly the vast majority of boaters would not know what I am talking about, had I used the title; "Replacing A Sleeve Bearing".. I chose the word cutlass carefully because it is well accepted, and understood by most boaters, as to what it is/describes. Had I physically used a Cutless® bearing then I would have used the word Cutless® but this one was not a Cutless® brand....

It should be noted that Vetus, a considerably larger world wide marine company than Duramax, continues to market their stave/sleeve bearings, even in the USA, as Cutlass bearings...

So Cutless® is a brand name. Duramax feels using the word cutlass is an infringement on their trade mark. Vetus, many magazines, marine chandlers, books and history seem to accept the word cutlass as generic. My readers will have to decide whether to call it a Cutless®, cutlass, stave or sleeve bearing. I have simply chosen a term that is well accepted and understood by most boaters.....

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