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Old 26-09-2017, 14:31   #1
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Replacing rudder bearings in the water

The rudder bearings in our 2007 FP Lavezzi are getting pretty clunky.

I'd like to anchor in shallow, calm, clear water and replace the lower, JP3 'donut' inner bearings while afloat.

Has anyone in the group done this job before me? If so, I have a couple of questions;

1) The rudders should be buoyant. How much weight did it take to get each one neutral? Is weight even necessary?

2) Were there any 'gotchas' with regard to freeing the tillers from the rudder shafts before dropping the rudders?

Thanks for help from those who have, "been there and done that."

s/v Grateful
laying Prickly Bay, St Georges
Grenada, West Indies
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Old 28-09-2017, 04:59   #2
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Hi Grateful, I don't know if anyone has written you separately - I'll start off by saying that I have NOT done this procedure yet, but did research it quite a bit in preps for dropping a rudder on our Orana and maybe the following might help.

I'm guessing the schematic design will be similar on your boat, just different dimensions. I believe we have a failing spacer between the hull and the top of the rudder and am hoping that's all I have to replace, but the dropping/installing procedure should be about the same

I did some rough calculations on the estimated internal volume of the rudders and came up with about 10lbs of buoyancy (meaning that I'd have to secure at least ten pounds of weights to the rudder to get it to sink). Again, this is very rough math, but it's a starting point.

On top of each rudder shaft should be a recess, and a cross pin within that recess (designed, at least on ours, to be the securing point for the emergency tiller). I've had it suggested (wisely) to run a line around this pin so you'll have a tag line attached to the rudder as you drop it (and thus a retrieval line when you go to re-insert the shaft). I had a devil of a time getting a piece of light line threaded in ours since it is a tight squeeze and a 180 degree turn for the line, not to mention doing it blindly since there is little clearance above our rudder shafts and engine compartment overhead - I fished it with a wire twist tie. I can later attach a stronger piece of line when I actually go to drop the rudder now.

I sketched out a sort of macrame cage to drape/secure around the rudder so that I can attach the needed weights. Nothing fancy or worth sharing, just something that I can take with me over the side and easily drape/wrap around the rudder and tie weights to.

From there I would secure the internal tag line and break all the mechanical connections to the rudder shaft. Then it's over the side, attach the "cage", weights and begin pulling, adding weight if necessary.

Again, I have NOT tried this yet, just all preps. My biggest concern is that when I get the rudder removed that inserting it back in will be tough, as there can't be much clearance between the shaft and the internal part of each bearing that the shaft will be in contact with - this should be almost an interference fit, in my mind. If the bearings are cocked at all when I remove the rudder, I'll have to figure a way to re-align them so the rudder shaft will slide back in and I'm not sure how to do that without the ability to look upward into the rudder post.

Please, if you carry out an in-water bearing replacement, please share your experience. Good luck!

Pat
s/v JADE
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Old 28-09-2017, 05:42   #3
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

I did some work on the rudders on my Privilege. I'm not sure if they are similar to yours. The bearings look like doughnuts, one at the top with a bolt through it and one at the bottom. The bottom ones are notoriously difficult to move, they expand, get corroded and become stuck. Removing the rudders in the water was not difficult, they didn't float but close to it. This is a post that I made on the subject some while ago. If you go to the search tab above, click on the Google custom tab and enter 'rudder bearings', you will find plenty of info, including some on the Lavezzi. Good luck.

Why do you need to change the bearing?...it it split and become loose or is it just that it has become too stiff to turn. I am assuming that the 42 has the same bearing as the 435.
Removing it and replacing it is a pain-in-the-butt job and can only be done on the hard. I recently took sandpaper to mine and it fixed the problem. I had the boat out of the water and removed the shaft. I created a tool using an 8" piece of scaffolding tube, put a bolt straight through the middle of the tube and secured the bolt in place using nuts and washers, leaving a couple of inches sticking out so that I could attach it to a power drill. I then put 40 grit sticky-backed sandpaper around the tube and sanded the inside of the bearing. It did the trick and my rudder now swings freely. If you need to do the repair in the water and can drop the rudder out into shallow water you might be able to sand the bushing by hand if you can find a long tube or pole of the right diameter. It wont be perfect but it might free the rudder sufficiently until you next need to haul it and do a proper job.
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Old 28-09-2017, 06:40   #4
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

FP Rudders can easily be removed in the water. Remove the top rudder shaft pillow block, then the tiller arm and push it out of the boat or pull it out from below. It will float to the surface if it has not been damaged and waterlogged.
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Old 28-09-2017, 07:42   #5
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Quote:
Originally Posted by pstadt View Post
.

...On top of each rudder shaft should be a recess, and a cross pin within that recess (designed, at least on ours, to be the securing point for the emergency tiller). I've had it suggested (wisely) to run a line around this pin so you'll have a tag line attached to the rudder as you drop it (and thus a retrieval line when you go to re-insert the shaft). I had a devil of a time getting a piece of light line threaded in ours since it is a tight squeeze and a 180 degree turn for the line, not to mention doing it blindly since there is little clearance above our rudder shafts and engine compartment overhead - I fished it with a wire twist tie. I can later attach a stronger piece of line when I actually go to drop the rudder now...

...If the bearings are cocked at all when I remove the rudder, I'll have to figure a way to re-align them so the rudder shaft will slide back in and I'm not sure how to do that without the ability to look upward into the rudder post....
I did this in a boat yard on a lavezzi.

The first thing. I'm trying to visualize your retrieval line, how do you drop the rudder out of the bearings with a pin still in the shaft? It's been several years, I don't remember there being a way to do this, but I was on land and not in danger of the rudder sinking or floating away so I didn't give it any thought.

Second thing. I did not have an issue realigning the bearings and shaft. Stuck my finger in the lower bearing and got a feel for the angle the shaft needed to be then just moved around till I felt the right spot in the top, reassembled everything. It will certainly be slightly more difficult by being in the water, patience is probably going to be the key.
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Old 28-09-2017, 07:44   #6
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Quote:
Originally Posted by sv Grateful View Post

I'd like to anchor in shallow, calm, clear water and replace the lower, JP3 'donut' inner bearings while afloat.
Can't be too shallow, those are some long shafts on the lavezzi.
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Old 28-09-2017, 07:55   #7
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Thanks Privelege, Cotemar and Fiveslide - the pin I'm talking about is totally internal to the top of the rudder shaft...nothing sticking out past the outside diameter. My emergency tiller (slotted to accept the rudder shaft pin) is made to slip into the top of the rudder shaft and connect to this pin. Not a great, sturdy design that I would want to use for a long trip, but it could be used as a last resort.

Pat
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Old 28-09-2017, 07:59   #8
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Here's a pic - plan view of the rudder shaft.

Pat
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Old 10-10-2017, 15:33   #9
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

I have a Lavezzi and tried to replace the bottom bearing. I was ancored out in Marigot Bay in St Maarten, it was in 2014. I did the prep accordingly... was able to reach the screws (allen) via the stern berth (removing the wooden panels)...and indeed had a line fixed through the hole in the actual rudder axis. I thought the rudder as a whole would slide out as a hot knife through butter... nothing was closer to the truth.... I had to pound hard on the top end of the axis (protected with a piece of wood)... (actualy i was already underwater trying to pry loose the rudder and my buddies pounding away...) finally it came loose... and with a very negative buoyancy dare I add.. it sunk right to the bottom (did i mention that my Lavezzi was from 2004)? Anyway, was able to replace the bearing and we put the whole thing back in place.. Hours after this joint effort, i noticed that something was wrong.. The boat was tilting at the stern (on the port side--where we had changed the bearing--.. opened the hatch and discovered that the whole engine room was flooded...Long story short... by the pounding the actual aluminium shaft (already brittle and damaged, however hadnt noticed that before) became swiss cheese and so water was freely flowing in...). As a result i had to get her out of the water and repair...(had somebody fibre glassing the whole shaft, well above the water line...) not a pretty looking job, but we had to make our weather window to get across to Europe). The other shaft is well looked after... Good luck with your project. Fair winds Pieter
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Old 10-10-2017, 15:47   #10
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Thanks for the advice all. Not really looking forward to the job, but it looks mostly doable.
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Old 03-01-2018, 15:22   #11
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Re: Replacing rudder bearings in the water

Pulled my Mahe recently to investigate bound rudder on the port side. After some persuasion rudder dropped through bottom bearing which ended up being seized. Not bad enough to not be persuaded to come out with encouragement, but bad enough to bind rudder stock. As Cotemar points out you dont want a rudder bind to go on too long. Everything in the steering train will suffer. Im not clear on the cause of binding. I suspect calcification between the ertalyte bearing and the anodized aluminum housing; which upon growth obviously restricts the bearing from floating. But I also think it may creat inward pressure to the extent that the inside bearing dimension is changed. The bearing was locked up and not freely floating. As a result their was pressure on the rudder tube cap and the upper bearing. So much so on the upper bearing housing that it loosened up the mount. Starboard rudder was not affected and works freely from the helm to the stock. My fix will be to clean it all up, make sure its aligned, and make this a periodic maintence inspection point on haulouts. The rudders are easy to drop when on a block. 6 or 8 inches of drop will give you plenty of room to see what you need to see in both bearings, rudder shaft and tube. Ive read some input regarding galvanic isolation but the rudder tubes and bearing housing are isolated. I believe it to be a maintenance item and will treat as such. On the rudders buoyancy. Mine are dry and would sink like a rock. They weigh 68 lbs. If you're going to play with this in the water make sure you have some system to capture the rudder. Also, when you're working the rudder out of the lower bearing do not work the rudder shaft against the rudder tube. Its very thin and could be damaged. Good luck......
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