How To Remove The Rudder : Formosa/Peterson 46
S/Y Argo, 1980 Formosa/Peterson 46, was identified as having a wet rudder – after being on the hard
for a couple of days, drips of water
were still visible beneath, and moisture readings at half-height were above 30%.
We decided to drop and remove the rudder to investigate, and to either, repair or, replace: simple, right? Wrong!
First, the unusually robust and strong (compared to the Formosa/Peterson 44) hinge/bearing design, connecting the lower portion of the rudder to the skeg, meant that the only possible way that the rudder could be removed was to either slide the entire assembly aft, horizontally (compared to the ground) or, remove the two hinge/bearings so that the rudder may slide out, down vertically.
Unlike on the Formosa/Peterson 44, where the hinge/bearings are split castings, the hinge/bearings on this Formosa/Peterson 46 turned out to be complete, cast bronze items, with recessed through-bolts in the wing section of each casting (see image)
The only way to remove thee hinge/bearings was by sliding them out of their corresponding recesses in the rudder and in the skeg - horizontally. Thus, in order for the rudder to be removed horizontally the rudder post must first be lifted vertically out of the rudder top, from inside the hull
. This seemed logical assuming the rudder shaft was splined or squared - in the same manner as for the emergency
tiller at the top of the shaft (see image 2).
All efforts to pull the rudder-shaft out vertically from inside the hull
proved completely fruitless.
Failing to remove the rudder-shaft from the rudder top through the hull, we could arrive at only one conclusion: that either, the entire yacht was built around the rudder or, perhaps more plausible, the hole in the hull where the rudder-shaft sleeve is secured was actually made over-sized and finished after the rudder was installed, i.e. the rudder-shaft would have wiggled into the over-sized hole in the hull and the hinges secured to skeg first then the rudder (or vice versa), then the rudder-shaft sleeve, bearing and packing gland
, and the over-sized hole in the hull, were subsequently fibreglassed and fared to appear as if part of the original hull . . . from the apparently dissimilar fibreglass styles around the inside of the through-hull fitting it does look as though this may have been the case (see image 3).
Anyway, we cut and ground the fibreglass in the upper portion of the rudder, to expose the top of the rudder-shaft. You will note from the image that the shaft inside the rudder is straight for the first 7 inches and then takes a (welded) bend (see image 4).
We cut the rudder shaft just above the bend (see image 5).
As soon as the rudder-shaft was cut clear it was then possible to slide the rudder assembly horizontally aft and the rudder could be removed; the shaft stub could then be pulled up through the hull (see image 6).
It was now impossible to reinstall the existing rudder so we decided to build a new one (better anyway as this would ensure future protection from moisture ingress and osmosis). Reusing the cast bronze fittings made good sense as they were obviously over-engineered for the purpose and would therefore continue to serve the yacht well. But we needed a better solution for re-installing the rudder-shaft through the hull. We decided to machine-spline the removed shaft and secure a splined sleeve into the top of the new rudder. In this way we could slide the new rudder forward, horizontally, into place and drop the machined rudder-shaft down through original through-hull fitting, into the splined sleeve. In this way, should the rudder ever need to be removed in the future then it will be the relatively simple task it is supposed to be.