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Old 09-06-2016, 10:03   #1
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DIY rudder repair

My BF is in San Carlos visiting our new to us CL 38 offshore. When we purchased it in May the boat had been out of the water about a month. Alan Smith surveyed for us.

We noted at the time of purchase that the rudder had some minor water ingress and a spot of delamination along the port side. Alan concurred and gave us a minor tutorial on fixing the problem. To all concerned the issue was minor.

Now that the boat has been outbof the water for 2 months the problem is obviously larger than anyone knew. There is significant delamination on both sides of the rudder.

Anyway, I found the videos by Boat Works and the process seems overwhelming to me.
Im wondering if this repair is something we should consider doing our selves. We are both mechanical but not as good with finish work.

Have you rebuilt your rudder? Was the process straight forward? Is this something that is easy to screw up?

I hope to have pictures later today. Ill post back when I get them.

Oh boy...here we go! Welcome to the glamorous life of the boat owner!
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:36   #2
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Re: DIY rudder repair

I think it would be an interesting project. If the metal inside is in good shape the rest would be simple. You might even upgrade the whole thing to foam and fiberglass instead of probably just glass and you will have a new rudder!
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:55   #3
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Re: DIY rudder repair

I've done it. in simple terms:
-cut out a big window on one side of the rudder. A skil saw works great. Remove the window fiberglass.
-Scrape out all the wet mushy foam inside the rudder.
-Let it dry out well. Just keep picking at the foam for a couple weeks while it dries out.
-Inspect the metal especially where the tabs are welded to the shaft.
-Assuming the metal is all good enough:
-Feather the fiberglass on the window and around the window opening so you can glass the panel back in.
-You need to decide what you want to fill the rudder with. I went with a 2 part lightweight epoxy product call RudderCast (no longer available that I can see). This product was intended to cast rudders directly with no fiberglass shell at all.
-I would avoid any kind of foam, it just soaks up water.
-After glassing in the window panel, I cut two .75 diameter holes in the top of the rudder. I injected the Ruddercast into those holes until it was full.
I did mine without removing it from the boat.

In your case you need to grind the rudder exterior to good fiberglass due to the delamination. Then reglass the ruder and fill and fair it.
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Old 09-06-2016, 11:25   #4
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Personally I would call Phills Foils and ask what a replacement rudder would cost, then get the boat yard to quote you what a repair is. The reason why is that if you start the repair and really mess it up you will be buying a new one so its good to know what the downside could be. The yard price (assuming you trust the yard to do a good job) is how much you might save if you do it yourself.

It's probably not comparable, but as a ball park, a Catalina 38 rudder runs about $3,750.
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Old 09-06-2016, 11:25   #5
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Re: DIY rudder repair

SD,
Unless you have competent skills working with fiberglass and epoxies and are a mechanically-inclined person, I would suggest getting several quotes from a professional who is willing to give you a written guarantee on his work. I rebuilt my rudder two years ago over the Winter. It was a time-consuming, labor-intensive project and I have done all my own boat repairs for the last 25 plus years. Without skills, you have a limited chance of real success. I would suggest watching several on-line videos of rudder repairs and if they are intimidating to you, better to seek the skills of a professional. A rudder is an elemental part of your boat. An incompetent repair is a prescription for disaster. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 09-06-2016, 11:44   #6
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Re: DIY rudder repair

It's a good point about maybe having a new one built. I see it's an older Cheoy Lee, quite possible you need metal work etc inside the rudder or the shaft.....
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Old 09-06-2016, 14:40   #7
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Re: DIY rudder repair

I just started this on the rudder for my Islander 32. The boatworks video is great but probably not indicative of what you will experience. That rudder is a flimsy POS compared to what I found when I cut mine open.

You recall in the video how the skin just pops right off? Nope.
You recall the lightweight foam breaking free in large chunks as he pulls it off? Nope.

My rudder is filled with a very dense foam. At least 16lbs compared to the 16lbs US Composites foam I have played with in the past. Its dense and strong and absolutely cemented in place. I am currently grappling with how to dig it out without damaging the internal framework I cannot see.

Does anyone have any advice for digging out the really strong, dense foam? My yard estimates about $3000 to get a new rudder from Foss and install it. I'd prefer not to have to pay that.

Thanks.
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Old 09-06-2016, 14:52   #8
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Depends on the type foam... I'd look for a solvent to dissolve it. That is the lowest physical effort method. But then you have to dispose of the goo and its usually hazardous material.
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Old 09-06-2016, 15:47   #9
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Re: DIY rudder repair

I repaired my sodden and delaminated rudder a little while ago. It's not that hard if you can use epoxy and fibreglass, although it can be time consuming. I didn't need to replace the shaft and tangs though. If you need to do this the job could become very complicated. Basically what you do is:
  • Cut out a window on the (most) delaminated side after tapping out the hollow part of the rudder.
  • Remove old foam
  • Clean and dry
  • Fill with new structural closed cell two pack polyurethane foam then shape as required
  • Repair areas (usually around the shaft) where water ingress originated from if required.
  • Bevel Glass to reinstall cutout section and reglass it in. You can put in new glass altogether instead of reusing the cutout section which is easier to lay, but much more difficult to sand and fair to final shape.
  • Sand, fair, sand and barrier coat.



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Old 09-06-2016, 15:50   #10
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Its your second step "Remove old foam" that really has me beat. That stuff is a bear. This weekend I am going to go at it with an air chisel using a wide, sharp blade.
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Old 09-06-2016, 16:01   #11
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Mike,

Try a dremmel with a plunge bit. It will make short work of foam, fiberglass, fingers. Just be careful not to punch thru the other side.

Dremmel bit #650
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Old 09-06-2016, 16:02   #12
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBravo556 View Post
Its your second step "Remove old foam" that really has me beat. That stuff is a bear. This weekend I am going to go at it with an air chisel using a wide, sharp blade.

An old sharpened wood chisel, multitool with scraper blade and a pressure cleaner made short work of it.
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Old 09-06-2016, 16:03   #13
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Thanks everyone! All of these comments are helpful. We arent totally without skills, he has done quite a bit of auto body work and Ive used similar urethane foams for puppet making. Yes, its the same stuff.
I hope to have photos and more info later. I havent spoken with my bf yet. But Alan was going to stop by and look at the boat too.
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Old 09-06-2016, 18:26   #14
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBravo556 View Post
I just started this on the rudder for my Islander 32. The boatworks video is great but probably not indicative of what you will experience. That rudder is a flimsy POS compared to what I found when I cut mine open.

You recall in the video how the skin just pops right off? Nope.
You recall the lightweight foam breaking free in large chunks as he pulls it off? Nope.

My rudder is filled with a very dense foam. At least 16lbs compared to the 16lbs US Composites foam I have played with in the past. Its dense and strong and absolutely cemented in place. I am currently grappling with how to dig it out without damaging the internal framework I cannot see.

Does anyone have any advice for digging out the really strong, dense foam? My yard estimates about $3000 to get a new rudder from Foss and install it. I'd prefer not to have to pay that.

Thanks.
Air chisel? Holes saws + hand chisel? +maybe a wood gouge... Don't worry , you wont damage the stainless steel and will know when you hit it!
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Old 13-06-2016, 07:29   #15
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Re: DIY rudder repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBravo556 View Post
I just started this on the rudder for my Islander 32. The boatworks video is great but probably not indicative of what you will experience. That rudder is a flimsy POS compared to what I found when I cut mine open.

You recall in the video how the skin just pops right off? Nope.
You recall the lightweight foam breaking free in large chunks as he pulls it off? Nope.

My rudder is filled with a very dense foam. At least 16lbs compared to the 16lbs US Composites foam I have played with in the past. Its dense and strong and absolutely cemented in place. I am currently grappling with how to dig it out without damaging the internal framework I cannot see.

Does anyone have any advice for digging out the really strong, dense foam? My yard estimates about $3000 to get a new rudder from Foss and install it. I'd prefer not to have to pay that.

Thanks.

Mike,
When I rebuilt my rudder two years ago, I used a mallet and a chisel to remove the hard foam. However, if you have delamination or isolated spots of foam deterioration, you can selectively just remove those areas and leave the good areas intact and finish your rebuild. However, the integrity of the metal/stainless framing must be good or you're wasting your time. In regards to time, whatever time estimate you believe you will need for the repair--double it! Good luck and safe sailing.
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