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Old 01-06-2009, 15:25   #1
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Cracks in Rudder

Hey all. Discovered several small, hairline cracks in the rudder of my Catalina 34 a couple of weeks ago when applying VC17. They didn't appear major and the rudder appeared otherwise sound so I thought no more of it. (I know, probably dangerous wishful thinking). Went up this weekend to wax her up and discoved that a small amount of a saplike fluid had oozed from a few of the cracks. I've got the marina to have their guy check it out and haven't heard back yet. I'd be very interested in hearing what the forum intelligensia think might be the problem along with any possible solutions/repairs.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-06-2009, 16:46   #2
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you might want to drill a small hole in the bottom of the rudder and see if water comes out....
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Old 01-06-2009, 20:27   #3
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Sounds like there was some uncured polyester resin in that part of the laminate, the "sap like" substance... Polyester was the utility resin for many years and varying qualities were used. Also Polyester can be finicky if ratios are not proper as well as whether or not the guy mixing it stirs it up long enough. This doesnt mean the whole rudder is bad, its a spot type thing that occurs on all polyester boats. Id say if the rudder is foam or other cored you likely have some water intrusion. To test this, do what is suggested above (drilling inline with the rudder post), or if the rudder post is a pipe style, take it off and turn upside down (alot of work i know...) If water intrusion is the case, do your best to remove the water if it is evident its in there. You'll never get it all out, just the majority of it. The repair of the hole is easy with some epoxy and can be made fairly quickly. If you are concerned about future water intrusion, get out the old sander, take off both new and old VC17 and bring to bare gelcoat/glass. Fair in and coat with epoxy. Be sure to seal around the rudder post by getting some epoxy then some sealant around it (5200) Repaint and you're off again. Easy as pie, go get em.
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Old 01-06-2009, 21:54   #4
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Where are they?

Can you tell us where the cracks are, possibly with a photo.

It would be important to rule out stress cracking.
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Old 01-06-2009, 23:52   #5
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Where there's smoke there's fire. If yiou're doing any thing other than daysailing there's just no comfort in not trusting your rudder.
Look into it if you're uncomfortable.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:27   #6
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Another possibility ( and I don't want to scare you) might be water intrusion corroding mild steel webbing welded to a stainless rudder post. As the rust gets worse, the ribs expand and crack the fiberglass. Hope its way simpler than this...
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Old 02-06-2009, 13:59   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
Can you tell us where the cracks are, possibly with a photo.

It would be important to rule out stress cracking.
Sorry, no photo. Cracks are on port side only and are confined to the forward half of the top half.
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Old 02-06-2009, 14:10   #8
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Here's a crude drawing.
Attached Files
File Type: doc Rudder cracks.doc (23.5 KB, 103 views)
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Old 02-06-2009, 14:12   #9
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was it stored outside in winter and possibly frozen? That might indicate water. Drill that hole!
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Old 02-06-2009, 14:35   #10
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was it stored outside in winter and possibly frozen? That might indicate water. Drill that hole!
It was stored outside and it does get a wee bit cold up here in the winter. I agree that it's almost certainly a frozen water issue but I'm (apparently vainly) hoping that it might be something less problematic.

Sigh...
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Old 02-06-2009, 17:40   #11
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Like written before: drill that hole...

ciao!
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Old 03-06-2009, 14:16   #12
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Dave, bottom line is that either you can gamble or you can rebuild the rudder, because once fluids are going in and out the only question is WHEN it will fail, not if. The goo is probably resin, but the cracks mean water is inside and the armature is degrading.

Replacing it can be the best way to go, if you can find a replacement new. Repairs mean drilling hole, exploratory surgery, and quite possibly winding up breaking the skin off and doing a total rebuild anyway. Glass work to add a new layer of skin to reseal it, grinding, all that good stuff as well as trying to maintain the correct shape after you replace rotten core material.

It ain't pretty. If you can deal with a tow service and rudder loss will only be a minor inconvenience...you seal it back up and keep sailing. Otherwise...major project or expense ASAP.
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Old 03-06-2009, 17:58   #13
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Dave, bottom line is that either you can gamble or you can rebuild the rudder, because once fluids are going in and out the only question is WHEN it will fail, not if. The goo is probably resin, but the cracks mean water is inside and the armature is degrading.

Replacing it can be the best way to go, if you can find a replacement new. Repairs mean drilling hole, exploratory surgery, and quite possibly winding up breaking the skin off and doing a total rebuild anyway. Glass work to add a new layer of skin to reseal it, grinding, all that good stuff as well as trying to maintain the correct shape after you replace rotten core material.

It ain't pretty. If you can deal with a tow service and rudder loss will only be a minor inconvenience...you seal it back up and keep sailing. Otherwise...major project or expense ASAP.
I agree. Fortunately, one of the Forum Friendlies PM'd me with a possible replacement. Thanks to you all for your input and help.

That being said, the word I'm thinking of rhymes with "Duck!"
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Old 03-06-2009, 18:27   #14
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Hey Dave,

Even though you have a replacement, it may be worth it to open up the skin on the old one, and see how bad it is. If it's not bad, you could seal it back up - pretty cheap, juts some epoxy and a few hours. If it needs work, find some scrap stainless, and a friend that welds, and beef it up. Then add resin, foam, more resin, cloth, etc, etc, and it will be good for many years.

I think the leaking liquid is likely water and deteriorated foam. However, that doesn't mean the rudder is shot, but it deserves a look inside. As a fellow Canuck, I think the cold / freezing has likely casued some expansion and cracks.

I opened up my rudder, only to find it was in good shape (welds, etc) despite a bit of water intrusion. Since then, I have beefed up the framework substantially, and sealed it all up, as I wanted to leave it better than I found it!

Knowing that it is fixed right is worth the effort. Who says the replacement rudder is any more sound than yours??
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