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Old 26-11-2013, 11:31   #1
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Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

I'm working on a friend's 32' sailboat boat with an inboard rudder. Water is coming in (very slowly, thank goodness) where the bronze rudder shaft enters the hull, and there is a bit of rudder clunking when steering hard. I was thinking rudder tube bearing. In my prior experience with other boats there has been a fiberglass rudder tube, a piece of hose, and a stuffing box at this location. However, on this boat there is only what appears to be a packing gland. Bronze threads emerge from the hull itself (!), and the packing gland is threaded on to that. Weird.

Does anyone have an idea of what this arrangement is, or how to fix it? It is a 40 year old boat, pretty well built in all other respects - not a shoddy one at all.
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Old 26-11-2013, 11:32   #2
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

Might help to identify the builder and model.
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Old 26-11-2013, 11:57   #3
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

Most likely a barn door or skeg hung rudder with a bearing on the bottom end, and top bearing just underneath your packing gland... Possible that the packing IS the upper bearing surface, but that would be extremely unusual...

Hopefully your bronze shaft isn't worn?

I would dive, putty around the shaft entrance on the outside, and repack the gland... see what you get....
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Old 26-11-2013, 17:19   #4
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

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Might help to identify the builder and model.
Douglas 32, Command yachts, Ted Brewer design for offshore. A Canadian boat, well regarded, but almost unknown in the US. Above average build quality

It is a barn door ruder hung from the keel. There must be a bearing in there, and an attachment on the outside, with the threads coming up through the hull.

I'll see when we haul...
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Old 26-11-2013, 17:48   #5
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

If the underbody is the 'Brewer Notch' profile, the rudder is supported at the hull/skeg and by a shoe attached to the keel. No other lateral support needed. Fitting in the hull is a bearing with packing gland. Either by tightening the gland nut, if you are lucky, or re packing will cure the leak. The clunk may be caused by wear on the shoe shoe at the bottom of the rudder. The upper bearing is less prone to wear. I'd get the leak fixed. You may find the clunk goes away. If the bottom is seriously loose, a machine shop can fix it either by filling with bronze and reboring or boring and inserting a bearing.
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Old 26-11-2013, 17:59   #6
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

Our allied has a standard shaft cutlass bearing for the upper rudder lateral forces.
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Old 26-11-2013, 18:35   #7
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

Not sure if this is similar to yours, but my Skookum 53 has the lower end of the rudder shaft captive in a cutless bearing. The shaft comes up through a stuffing box in the hull, but no bearing there. It is attached to the massive double-ended hydraulic ram steering assembly, which has 2 bearings in it. The ram is fastened to notched torque plates attached to the stringers. When I replaced this unit it stated that the studs holding the ram to the torque plates needed to be loose if the installation was done out of the water. The idea being that when the hull was then fully supported in the water, the ram unit needed to "float" into proper alignment before being snugged up. In my case, alignment was the key issue. If I had a bearing adjacent to the stuffing box, the alignment of the rudder shaft with the ram's bearings would be much more difficult. (I think).
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Old 27-11-2013, 18:41   #8
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

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If the underbody is the 'Brewer Notch' profile, the rudder is supported at the hull/skeg and by a shoe attached to the keel. No other lateral support needed. Fitting in the hull is a bearing with packing gland. Either by tightening the gland nut, if you are lucky, or re packing will cure the leak. The clunk may be caused by wear on the shoe shoe at the bottom of the rudder. The upper bearing is less prone to wear. I'd get the leak fixed. You may find the clunk goes away. If the bottom is seriously loose, a machine shop can fix it either by filling with bronze and reboring or boring and inserting a bearing.
This makes complete sense. Thank you and all others sooooo much! At least we are now confident that it wasn't some terrible short cut by the builder, or urgently unsafe. We'll haul in the spring and get her sorted.
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Old 28-11-2013, 11:07   #9
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Re: Can't understand rudder shaft arrangement

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This makes complete sense. Thank you and all others sooooo much! At least we are now confident that it wasn't some terrible short cut by the builder, or urgently unsafe. We'll haul in the spring and get her sorted.
Nah!

Tighten the gland a bit and see if your leak is stemmed any until you haul... You may reduce some clunk/slop too... Not too hard mind you!
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