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Old 06-10-2018, 11:04   #1
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fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

I collided with a humpback whale while fishing with no sail up and little way on. The whale came from underneath me (out of the blue) and hit my rudder which is now bent (see photos). There does not seem to be water inside but the seal does not look great. I don't have the money to replace this now, how might I attempt to fix it? Please help
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:15   #2
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

That's a bit strange, almost looks like a big steel washer on top. Is your question about straightening the shaft or the moisture in the rudder?
You need someone with a big arbor press to straighten the shaft. use a straight edge to figure where the most bend is and start by pressing there. You have to way over bend to get any permanent change.
As far as water intrusion, Drill a hole or two and see what comes out on the drill bit. Squeeze it between your forefinger and thumb. If wet water will come out.

If wet, you can cut a rectangular "window " in the side of the rudder with a hand saw. Remove the rectangle and save it. If the rudder is foam filled and wet inside, scrape out all the wet foam and let it dry well. Inspect the top where the shaft exits. Clean it well and epoxy all around where the shaft exits. Epoxy with a good filler would be nice. Glass the rectangle back in place by tapering/grinding both sides of the gap, then laying up layers of glass. Grind it all smooth. Cut a hole near the top with a holesaw, and fill the rudder with your choice: epoxy slurry, or any number of casting resin products.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:24   #3
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Cheechako pretty much said everything that needs to be said.

The only thing I will add, is a good machinist can actually calculate how far it needs to bend past so it rebounds perfectly. We had a bent shaft straightened 3 years ago and it came back good as new.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:36   #4
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Get a long piece of heavy pipe big enough to slip over the shaft, block the rudder to hold it without damaging it, and go for it. When it is straight enough, take a dremel tool and grind out the top of the rudder around the shaft, then backfill with 5200.

When I helped do it, we put the rudder under the keel of a heavy cruising boat that was one the hard, then put supporting wood between the rudder and the ground, and a 2x2 at the fulcrum point under the keel.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:36   #5
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

I've straightened shafts before. On a small shaft with that much bend, not a big deal. Often you can do it right on the boat (if it didn't damage the bearings during the impact, a slow pull should be safe).


Does it just look funny, or does it bind? One option may be to fix the seal and then leave it alone. Bending things back and forth is generally bad for them, and I know quite a few boats that have sailed for decades with slightly bent rudders that didn't bind. You judge, but it may not actually matter much.
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Old 06-10-2018, 12:30   #6
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

it binds 'dead ahead', some but I can force it across otherwise I would have been in a real bind... I guess this means the shaft is bent backwards, and the rudder is hitting the boat, but it looks bent side to side to me. the bend does not seem to be in the exposed shaft, rather right at the interface to the rudder I think. The thing that looked like a steel washer is in-fact a big plastic washer. Here is what it looks like with that off

Thanks everyone for the advice, this is scarier than hitting the actual whale.
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Old 06-10-2018, 12:50   #7
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Quote:
Originally Posted by skkeith View Post
it binds 'dead ahead', some but I can force it across otherwise I would have been in a real bind... I guess this means the shaft is bent backwards, and the rudder is hitting the boat, but it looks bent side to side to me. the bend does not seem to be in the exposed shaft, rather right at the interface to the rudder I think. The thing that looked like a steel washer is in-fact a big plastic washer. Here is what it looks like with that off

Thanks everyone for the advice, this is scarier than hitting the actual whale.
Our bend was very similar to yours. Bent backwards and to the side, right at the part where the fiberglass starts.

The machine shop warned that they would damage the fiberglass as they needed to apply pressure right there. In the end they got it perfectly straight, but did do some damage. I just ground the damage out and reglassed. Took me like 6 hours to fix it.. Total cost of the machine shop was about $250usd.
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Old 06-10-2018, 13:50   #8
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Is there something funny about the plastic washer? This rudder is from a 1975 28" Islander, should I re-install a similar washer?
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Old 06-10-2018, 14:02   #9
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

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Is there something funny about the plastic washer? This rudder is from a 1975 28" Islander, should I re-install a similar washer?
I'm guessing that its there to provide a slippery surface between the boat and the rudder. So the top of the rudder doesn't rub on the bottom of the rudder tube. Personally I would reinstall it.
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Old 06-10-2018, 14:46   #10
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Remember when applying force to the rudder that the shaft does NOT run the full length of the rudder. More often it is something like 1/2, with a welded SS strip web. Break the web loose and you will need a new rudder.
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Old 06-10-2018, 20:08   #11
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Possibly the most important part of your boat is that spade rudder and if you use your boat for more than just bay/day sailing then it needs to be beyond reproach. As a previous post suggested, it's possible that the shaft doesn't go right through to the bottom of the blade and the integrity of the whole thing should be known. A close inspection of the hull around the rudder tube would be reasonable too. I'm envious that you sail in waters where there are fish AND whales.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:34   #12
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Wow.

Wonder what the whale looks like?
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:36   #13
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

I did a saft-ectomy as a solution to a bent shaft. Cut forward and aft of the old shaft. Had a stainless steel plate welded on same material as old shaft and re attached to rudder with glass and epoxy and glued the forward part back on. Faired and painted. Good as new. Just need to find the right tube
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:11   #14
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

All good suggestions for a fix. If all else fails, The Foss Company, located in Newport Beach, would be my choice of the go-to place to have a new rudder manufactured for your Islander. I had a serious water ingress issues with my rudder. After attempts to dry and reshape the rudder while on the hard in Mexico, the decision was made to replace it with new. The Foss Company has a variety of rudder jigs for older boat designs, including the Cal 39 (and Islanders). A new rudder was fabricated which I transported to La Paz on my truck for installation. The cost, in 2012, was $2400. Certainly not inexpensive, but an alternative. Good luck with the repair.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:38   #15
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Re: fix bent rudder shaft (whale damage)

Check sailboat salvage yards.
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