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Old 26-08-2015, 17:17   #1
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How do I fix my damaged rudder?

I need your expertise, folks.

A couple weeks ago in the Clarence Strait north of Ketchikan I hit a log with my 1991 Ericson E-34 and suddenly lost the ability to do anything but turn left. I climbed down the swim ladder to discover that the rudder had been bent aft just enough to jam against the bit of the hull that protrudes downward to meet the top of it. The attached pic is of another boat and is there just to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about. This bad luck was quickly followed by some good when a tender came to my rescue. We used its crane to lift my stern out of the water far enough to use an air tool to grind down the top of the rudder, freeing it to rotate left and right, allowing us to limp on to our destination.

So now I sit in Juneau with a helm that turns freely to the left but then becomes very stiff when the rudder passes the midline for a right turn.

I'm guessing that there'll be two parts to this fix.

1. Dropping the rudder out the bottom and straightening...what is it called?...the rudder tube. So how do I remove the rudder? And how would I straighten the tube?

2. Replacing the layer of fiberglass that I ground off the top of it to keep water out of it.

And, while I'm working on it, is there anything I can install to reduce the likelihood of this happening again or, if it does, a way to deal with it that does not depend on having at my disposal a 90 foot tender with a full mechanical shop on board?

Thanks in advance!

Ed
"Kinnaree"
'91 Ericson E-34
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Old 26-08-2015, 18:39   #2
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

PICS, PICS, PICS! can't tell with out them!!!!!
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Old 26-08-2015, 18:44   #3
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

replace the rudder.
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Old 26-08-2015, 18:44   #4
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

Hi Ed:

I have never done this but I have read about it so take it with a grain of salt. A spade rudder is supposed to be neutrally bouyant. You can tie a few ropes to the rudder to secure it and then detach all items from the rudder post and push the post thru the rudder tube. Assuming the top of the tube is above the waterline there should be no water intrusion. From there you would be able to determine if the rudder was repairable or if you needed a new one. You could either make a new rudder or have one made.

As far as prevention I don't think that there is anything you can do. I like the protection given from a skeg hung rudders whereas some people will say that only a full keel is the way to go. Not sure how practical converting your rudder to a Skeg would be and it would take a haulout.
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Old 26-08-2015, 18:46   #5
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

If im in your shoes, drop the rudder from the boat, if is hollow stock i dont even attempt to straightening, if is thick SS stock and is healty, no corrosión, or cracks etc,,, maybe a try to make it true could be ok, but i guess the bend point pass the top of the bottom bushing, dropp the rudder and determine the extent of the damage, dont skip any point and do it right, dont be another one in the long list.... Cheers.
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Old 26-08-2015, 18:47   #6
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

I've spent time in Ketchikan, you can get anything fixed there. Don't despair.
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Old 27-08-2015, 05:53   #7
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

I dropped a rudder in the slip once in San Pedro on a 1981 E-30 to see what was wrong with the lower bearing in my early 30s. Did it myself.

Turns out there was no lower bearing, so hauled the boat and bought one from Ericson and had Gene Kolhman explain how to set it straight before the West Systems Epoxy set up around it. Later E-30s did have one.

To get yours down, slack your rudder steering cables some, don't remove the pedestal. Make a note of how many turns you take out so you can set it back up the same on reassembly.

Undo the packing around the top of the rudder post in the boat.

You can drop the rudder by loosening the two (or 4) big clamp bolt-nut assys that clamp the quadrant to the top of the hollow stainless rudder post, then setting something up under the rudder (dig a hole under the rudder, it is long), then finally removing the one through bolt that goes through the clamp and the rudder post. No need to separate the two halves of the quadrant.

Before you push that large diameter through bolt out, first unload the gravity pull by putting a couple of 5 gal paint cans under the bottom of the rudder to take the load and be prepared for it to drop down. Push the cross bolt out with a drift. The quadrant will stay in the boat, only the rudder will be dropped. Then go under the boat and work it out. It will weigh some, but one person can handle it.

The stainless steel hollow shaft on my E-30 was 2.5 inches around, I think.

On the E38, it was 3.5 inches.

Having not seen this type of damage, I would expect that the bend (deflection) is right where the post disappears into the skin of the rudder blade, meaning that the armature inside of it is compromised, and, most likely, the rudder will have to be opened up and rebuilt with a new post into to the armature, then reglassed.

I did this on a 5 year old boat, so nothing was stuck. Just saying. Its very possible that the quadrant halves, being aluminum, are stuck initially to the hollow stainless rudder post, and will need to be freed with some heat and then penetrant.

Sorry to hear about it.

Charlie
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Old 27-08-2015, 09:08   #8
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

Replace the rudder and sleep well.
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:08   #9
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

This sort of damage is quite common around here for two reasons: 1) Fin keeled boats with spade rudders are all the rage. 2) Lotsa rocks.

The long way about is the quick way home.

The rudder stock will have bent exactly where it enters the tube in the hull. Unlikely that it could be straightened without leaving a wow in it that would impede steering in the future, so just build a new rudder upon a new stock. The stock will be a dimension of either solid stock or tube that is readily available from metals merchants.

Within the blade there will be "dogs" welded onto the side of the stock in order to transmit the torque of the stock to the blade. These "dogs" are just pieces of strap or bar projecting aft.

A core of some suitable material, marine ply, say, is built up around the dogs and the stock and faired to the shape and the cross section of the rudder. Piecacake to do yourself if money is a consideration. A grinder and a belt sander will do the job. The faired "guts" of the rudder is then encased in GRP. Slicing into the old one will tell you how thick a lay-up was considered appropriate by the builder. Do likewise.

Spade rudders are usually "balanced", i.e. some amount of their area is forward of the stock in order to reduce the force required to turn the rudder. IMO rudders are generally OVERbalanced losing you the "feel" of the boat. If ever I need to rebuild TrentePieds' rudder, I'll move the stock forward in the blade an inch or two.

Two days of work should get you a new DIY rudder if you have the tools or access to them. Refitting the new rudder is just the reverse of pulling the old one. But be careful - they are heavier than you might think, particularly if the stock is solid rather than tubular.

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Old 27-08-2015, 10:11   #10
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

If you can find any salvage yards that might have another rudder, same boat, consider that. Any damage to the hull and tube will be relatively simple, but if any water got into the rudder, it will eventually cause the armature to fail, and finding someone who can open it up, dry it out, rebuild it...Not easy, cheap, or reliable.


The only way to ensure it never happens again is to convert from sailing to golf, but that has other problems.(G)
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:25   #11
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

Can't remember the name of the outfit in Newport Beach, but you can buy a brand new rudder for your Ericson. I was present the day they closed the Ericson yard in Costa Mesa. I was sailing aE27 at the time and bought some stuff at their fire sale. You can't build a protective cage around your rudder without killing the sailing Performance of your boat. Bad luck.
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:33   #12
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

I think that's the west coast side of Foss Foam. From experience with their Florida location...I'd burn the boat and take up golf first. Just one man's opinion.


The guy in Canada, used to be something like "Phil's" ? is supposed to be very good.
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Old 27-08-2015, 12:05   #13
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

Another perspective on the West Coast side of Foss Foam in Newport Beach. I had a new rudder fabricated for my 1982 Cal39 in 2011 and am pleased with it. It was fabricated within 4 weeks of my order, crated and ready for pick-up. The only difference noted between the original rudder and the replacement is that the pipe stock used for the rudder post was slightly smaller in wall thickness.
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Old 27-08-2015, 12:07   #14
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy View Post
I've spent time in Ketchikan, you can get anything fixed there. Don't despair.
He said he's in Juneau. I'm guessing that's good for fixing stuff too though.
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Old 27-08-2015, 12:24   #15
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Re: How do I fix my damaged rudder?

Perhaps there is a used unit here that could be quickly shipped from Seattle?? Sailboat Wrecking Yard- Sailboat rudders
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