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Old 03-12-2017, 06:43   #1
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Trouble with a seized rudder

Hi Guys
Once more I have to beg the expertise of friends on the best sailing forum on the web.
My 1977 Down East 45 has been sitting in the marina for two years since our last trip, while I have been doing some big internal alterations. During this time I can’t actually remember turning the wheel, and now the rudder is seized in the hard-to-port position and won’t budge. It’s my own stupid fault I know, but it’s happened, and so far I can’t free it with my limited leverage.
A diver has cleaned all the growth on the rudder and in the space between the hull, so there are no visible obstructions. I think the seizure must be in the top - or maybe the bottom pintle, but I don’t know how it was originally made. The boat is long keel with, I assume, a continuous rudder shaft. The top seems to be some sort of bearing, or stuffing box, but I don’t want to mess with it without advice as to what it might be. See the pictures.
I have soaked the top of the shaft where it comes out of the fiberglass, with ‘blaster’ penetrating oil.
I am sure the whole apparatus is above water line.
The wires and pulleys to the quadrant are all well greased and free, and the autopilot piston is disconnected.
There is a hole in the top of the shaft for an emergency rudder, but I don’t have one. I wedged a socket wrench in the hole and was able to apply a 24” inch leverage to it. The large quadrant moved about 1” inch, then sprung back. I can’t even start to ‘waggle’ it back and forth.
I don’t want to lift her if it can possibly be avoided, so I’m asking for practical suggestions. Apart from "sell the bloody boat!"
Thanks JR
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:56   #2
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

If the quadrant moves 1", then the shaft itself is turning. So the problem is either in the steering gear or something is binding the rudder itself. It points to something other than the shaft bearings and seal.

Are you certain the quadrant and cables are running free? Did you disconnect the cables (easy) and test the wheel and assembly, and then the shaft independently? I would try that as it's a simple and straightforward test. If something in the pedestal is seized it could certainly lead to what you're experiencing.

I would consider servicing the seal anyway, raising the top flange, inspecting and or replacing the packing, and even rebuilding the base on the log (the hose clamp deal is a bit frightening). In the process you'd discover if either flange was seized on the shaft.
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Old 03-12-2017, 08:43   #3
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

The last time I recall this happening on CF it was the wheel brake.
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Old 03-12-2017, 11:37   #4
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

Hi Deepfrs and Suijin
Thanks for your responses. Ive found the problem. There is a support under the forward edge of the large quadrant which isn't easy to see, and the four bolts which hold it in place had worked loose, (regular nuts, not locking nuts), and it was jamming the quadrant. Once tightened up everything worked properly. Crisis over wait for the next one.
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Old 03-12-2017, 12:32   #5
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

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Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
Hi Deepfrs and Suijin
Thanks for your responses. Ive found the problem. There is a support under the forward edge of the large quadrant which isn't easy to see, and the four bolts which hold it in place had worked loose, (regular nuts, not locking nuts), and it was jamming the quadrant. Once tightened up everything worked properly. Crisis over wait for the next one.
Jeez, glad you found that at the dock. Would have been a potential Bad Situation had it happened underway.
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:18   #6
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

I would rely on lock washers and red LocTite not Nylon nuts if I wanted something to stay properly fashioned. Have had NyLoks loosen up.
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Old 04-12-2017, 12:37   #7
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

Bro, be very careful about what pene. Oil you are using near rubber parts. Aka PB blaster, my experience has been that it will break down rubber parts. If you got any on the hose to shaft seal I would keep a real close eye on it or replace the hose for piece of mind.
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Old 04-12-2017, 16:33   #8
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

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I would rely on lock washers and red LocTite not Nylon nuts if I wanted something to stay properly fashioned. Have had NyLoks loosen up.
Nylocks do loosen up... in important places like rudders and flanges after the installation of nylocks I drill the bolts and insert a cotter pin. I also grease all bolts, holes, nuts and cotter pins. It is so much easier to service them later.
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Old 05-12-2017, 05:20   #9
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

Bearing in mind what you’ve all said about nylocks, I’ve now put two nuts on the bolt and locked them together. I’ve done the same on the wire connection to the pedestal, which I found was only finger tight when the problem occurred. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance—will it ever end…..
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Old 07-12-2017, 15:47   #10
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Re: Trouble with a seized rudder

Not trying to steel but,seabreez how do you drill Stainless nuts/bolts for cotter pins, for that diameter. Not being a wise guy, just want to know, for our own boat ! We are using nichel copper nylocks on s.s. bolts, for rig lowers and uppers. I have an 8 speed d. press !
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