I also am the owner of a freya 39 built in 1977. In fact the original owner. I have removed he ruudder several times and recommend it to anyone that has a boat of this vintage if only to inspect all the components and replace the bearings. This is particularly important if yo plan to go offshore
, as any good surveyor
will tell you. The first issue is to akllow room for dropping the rudder by either digging a hole under it in the yard, or making sure it is blocked high enough over the ground at the boatyard. It requires about a foot clearance under the base of the rudder. You can avoid the step of actually dropping the rudder if you only want to inspect or replace the lower bearing, but someday you will want to do the whole inspection
anyway so why not do it right now since it is a 40 year old boat. Second, the four 3/8 inch bolts holding the bronze gudgeon halves are slicone bronze, and may break or seize upon removal
. Not a big deal, just drill them out and replace with either bronze or high quality stainless, making sure that the fitting is protected with zinc button anodes on both sides upon relaunch. These four bolts are 3/8" and go all the way through the keel. Put wooden blocks under the rudder before removing the gudgeons to support its weight when the supporting gudgeon is removed. The rudder assembly weighs about 75 lbs. The two gudgeon halves may require prying with a a stout wide chisel if they are bedded in 5200 or similar. When the two halves come off the 1" cutless bearing will be exposed. it is in one peice and should have a good clear opening in the bottom of the gudgeon castings for cleansing of abrasive particles (sand, etc) that naturally flow through the bearing. Inspect the shaft for pitting or evidence of captive corrosion
. a careful sanding
of the shaft surfaces with emory cloth or wet sandpaper is recommended. Replace the cutless bearing with a new one as they are inexpensive and removal is the biggest part of the job. Do not lubricate as any type of grease will just attract sand and dirt and accelerate wear. After replacing the bearing you can either re-bed the two gudgeon halves and reassemble with copious amounts of 3M 5200 and new bolts, making sure to use either nylock nuts or lock washers on the new fittings. I replaced mine with 316 stainless about 20 years ago and have had no evedence of galvanic corrosion on the bronze peices, just the button zincs which are attached to both pieces with 1/4 inch-20 screws threaded into the bronze. Dropping the rudder entails a few more steps but is recommended for a boat of this age going offshore
. Do so by unbolting the flange above the rudder gland inside the hull
or removing the set screw and dropping the shaft. A plastic or wooden mallet will help if it is corroded. Once the rudder is dropped it can be put on sawhorses and the upper shaft surfaces inspected for corrosion. If there is any sign of pitting or captive corrosion, a further inspection
or the internal rudder armature is justified. I accomplished this by using a 3 inch disc grinder, cutting a rectangular access port into the side of the ruder, centered between the edges. Removing this access port will allow cutting away the foam internals and carefully checking the stainless parts
inside. The rudder armature is composed of stainless tubing welded to the 1 3/4 inch stainless shaft. You can easily see if the rudder had had sea water
inside of it and whether the armature is corroded. If it appears to be sound, then reassembly simply requires new high quality foam poured in, shaved to shape, and then the outer skin replacement. The rectangular piece of outer skin that was removed earlier can be replaced by grinding a 4 inch tapered margin on both inside and outside of the access port, (giving a total of 8 inches wide layup) and fiberglassing with succesive layers of roving and cloth and a high quality epoxy
such as WEST system.
Do NOT use polyester resin as a secondary bond will not be strong enough. This as a structurally important re-build so great care must be made to use adequate thickness of the build up, a minimum of 5/16 up to 3/8 inch. After rebonding the access port in this manner, the edges of the opening can be ground, filled and faired so the rudder is in original shape. Before replacing the rudder, the exit points for the shaft at the top and in the lower bearing area must be thoroughly cleaned, dried, and given a heavy bead of 5200 to seal the joints against water
intrusion. After doing this inspection and repair, the owner can again have some confidence that the rudder is sound.