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Old 13-05-2019, 09:48   #1
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Rudder Head for Tiller

Howdy Folks,
First time poster hoping someone here can shed some light. I have a Watkins 25 sailboat with a rudder head similar to this. I've noticed that the tiller is sometimes not in line with the rudder. I am assuming that the hole in the base is for a bolt that connects the rudder post to the tiller. I am also assuming that the slotted part with the 2 bolts is to tighten the rudder head securely to the post. Can you confirm these assumptions?


On my vessel I have aligned the tiller and rudder and tightened the section with the 2 bolts (my rudder head only has 1 bolt). This seems to work for a while but I would rather not have to keep tightening this. Is there something I can do to tighten this more permanently? There does seem to be some slack when the bolt is inserted in the base and the tightening bold is loose. Should this be the case? I thought of using a slightly thicker bolt but not sure there's enough room to go thicker.



Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



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Old 13-05-2019, 10:01   #2
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Re: Rudder Head for Tiller

No key/keyway I guess? Yes those two bolts are to tighten it.
If the gap where the two bolts are is closed tight, you dont have any adjustment left and maybe are not tight enough.
Are you saying there is no through bolt through the rudder stock and that fitting? Or that the bolt through there is too loose?
Not sure if brass or ss shim around the rudder stock would give you more ability to tighten or not... or if having a shim would make it slip more. I think having a nice tight fit in that through hole and bolt would be good, but maybe you would not be aligned when you do that? You could ream to fit a good quality bolt.
Another option is to run a saw blade through that gap to open the gap a bit more so it will tighten better. (if the gap is completely closed now) If the fitting is too loose on the rudder stock, another, more costly, option would be to have the inside of the fitting plated. Maybe "electroless nickel" plating.
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Old 13-05-2019, 10:14   #3
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Re: Rudder Head for Tiller

Thanks for the quick reply.



There is a through bolt through the stock but there seems to be the slightest bit of wiggle room there. I feel that if that bolt were 1/16 wider the wiggle room would be gone.



There is still a little space in the slot but the bolt head and nut when tight are so close to the base that it doesn't allow you to get much purchase with the wrench to tighten further without stripping. Maybe I could put some sort of a stainless spacer there that would push the bolt head and nut out further so that I could get the wrench on them better to crank them down more.


Any other thoughts?


Thanks again,
Nelson
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Old 13-05-2019, 10:19   #4
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Re: Rudder Head for Tiller

Yes a thick washer would be good. SS is fine mixed with Bronze. I wonder if you could run a drill or reamer through the side hole with the fitting tight on the rudder? Aligning the holes and then put a tight fitting bolt, or even a SS pin in there?
I will say that there can often be a little slack in these, it drives me crazy though... that little bit of movement or "Click" when you steer.
Have you had the fitting off? I wonder if it's oblong inside and not fitting well?
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Old 13-05-2019, 10:28   #5
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Re: Rudder Head for Tiller

All sound like good ideas. I thought about a pin as well, I'll have to look into that.


Thanks so much for your help.
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Old 14-05-2019, 09:21   #6
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Re: Rudder Head for Tiller

Another way. The "proper" way is to remove the head, drill the shaft hole to a larger size and install a bushing (usually a piece of pipe with a close fitting inside diameter same as the bolt). Second choice is to obtain a bolt slightly larger in diameter and drill a hole to match. If there is a lot of wear on the shaft and/or head, a shim should be installed also so the head clamps tight. Often the holes in the tiller get worn at the same time so they should be checked too.

On line suppliers often stock bolts and matching nuts by the 1/16" or metric sizes that help in fitting without having to drill too large of holes.

Don't drop the rudder when you remove the head!
While you have the head off, check for wear between the head and the shaft tube- sometimes a washer or shim is needed to remove vertical play.

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Old 14-05-2019, 10:13   #7
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Re: Rudder Head for Tiller

It appears that in the socket that fits over the top of your rudder stock there is a hole right through the socket from one side to the other. If I am right about that, there should be a matching hole right through the rudder stock so that a bolt may be slipped through the lot to take the torque as you use the tiller.

The "sqeezy" clamping arrangement is NOT man enuff to do that, and is merely a convenience for getting things lined up. Similarly, the attachment of the tiller to this fitting is less than adequate, but on a small production boat of this era, intended to sell into a mass market too impecunious to buy better built boats, such things were often seen.

You can make an adequate repair by putting this fitting in place on the stock. Make sure that the alignment is correct by slipping the largest diameter bolt that will fit through the transverse hole. Then choose a bolt one size up from the one that will just fit, and the appropriate drill that will permit the SHANK (not the threads) of this larger bolt to be a slip fit in the hole after you ream it out with the bit. Stock is likely stainless steel, so you will need to lubicate well with cutting oil, go at low RPM and keep LOTSA end pressure on the bit. The new bolt should have a shank (unthreaded portion) long enough to NEARLY reach through the fitting from one side to the other. When the bolt is in, you shorten the threads of the bolt to be JUST long enough to take an acorn nut on top of a lock washer.

That will be a repair that will last as long as you have the boat, I'm sure.

The next job, making the connection twixt the tiller and this fitting adequate for the job it has to do, may be a little more difficult, but to give you sensible guidance I'll need to see a picture of the stock end of the tiller.

All the best

TrentePieds
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