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Old 11-03-2011, 18:49   #1
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In-Water Rudder Inspection Question

The first Tsunami surge this morning hit us from astern. There was no rudder brake on, since we were in our slip in a harbor that normally has no current. There are six sailboats on my dock, five of which were hit astern, and each of these boats had the rudders slam back and forth, post to post, hard when the original surge hit. I was not aboard at that point, but Wondeblond says that the rudder slammed so hard she thought another boat had hit us. She was able to lash it before it oscillated back and forth, unlike a few other boats.

I have a spade rudder, no skeg, a full fathom long and pretty hefty for that size. Stainless stock. Rack-and-pinon steering. 40-inch stainless wheel. My neighbor two slips over saw 14 knots on his knot log during the second surge (our wheel was lashed at that point.)

Tomorrow, once things settle down, I'd like to inspect the rudder before going out for a daysail. If anyone can suggest a good inspection protocol, I'd be grateful. It's fairly easy on my boat to access the quadrant and rudder post. The water's damned cold, at the moment, but I have a wetsuit, et cetera aboard.

Ideas?
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:29   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash
Ideas?
No ideas out there? I've looked from the water, and there doesn't appear to be any sign of stress. I suppose that next I'll take up the cockpit sole so that I can examine the quadrant and the top of the rudder post. Then I suppose I'll unlash the wheel and give it a few side-to-side swings, just to feel whether there's any more play in the system than there was before the tsunami hit. Not sure what else I might try.

Any other tests/inspections I ought to consider before taking the boat out for a sail this afternoon?
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:44   #3
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Re: Question about in-water rudder inspection

It sounds like you have it pretty well covered........visually inspect the stops carefully, to make sure no cracks have developed. If you have a rigging dye, you can use it to accent any possible crack. The next thing would be to see if the rudders position amidship still relates to the wheel position as before. If you have an autopilot, see that the amidship position of the rudder agrees with the rudder position indicator. Next would be to get wet!!!!!
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:45   #4
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pirate Re: Question about in-water rudder inspection

I think I'd like to go under and check for any stress cracking/damage to the rudder itself if it slammed that hard... may seem fine at the slip but out there with load on is another matter.... dunno how your rudders constructed.. is there possibility of being bent slightly off line... sounds like a lot of force.
What are the other boats reporting...
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:00   #5
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Re: Question about in-water rudder inspection

The way I see it, here are the potential problems:

1) the rudder gets jammed against the hull. Not a problem if you've got proper rudder stops.
2) damage to the quadrant and/or cables.
3) damage to the rudder stock (bent). If it's a slight bend, this would be hard to spot in the water. Plumb bobs certainly won't work, maybe a laser would.
4) damage to the rudder stock (rudder broken free from stock). Rudder & wheel move independently. Worst case.
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:43   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain465
The next thing would be to see if the rudders position amidship still relates to the wheel position as before. If you have an autopilot, see that the amidship position of the rudder agrees with the rudder position indicator. Next would be to get wet!!!!!
good idea to check the indicator. on mornings like this it takes an extra set of eyes to see the obvious.

getting wet didn't really tell me anything. which was good, of course.

thanks for the advice!
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:52   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61
What are the other boats reporting...
Ha! The other owners are sitting around sipping coffee, waiting for me to report back. We just got another surge, almost 24 hours after the first one hit, so people aren't crazy about the idea of getting into the water. If I thought they were still coming, I wouldn't have gone in either. I got lucky enough to get in and out when there was no current. The surges are pretty light now at my boat, but the sailboat two slips over gets a good 5-6 knots of current. I've never seen anything like this.

Anyway, I'm sharing everyone's advice with the neighborhood.
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:56   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zednotzee
The way I see it, here are the potential problems:

1) the rudder gets jammed against the hull. Not a problem if you've got proper rudder stops.
2) damage to the quadrant and/or cables.
3) damage to the rudder stock (bent). If it's a slight bend, this would be hard to spot in the water. Plumb bobs certainly won't work, maybe a laser would.
4) damage to the rudder stock (rudder broken free from stock). Rudder & wheel move independently. Worst case.
Thanks, Zednotzee. I'd send official thanks, but I'm working off an iPad this morning rather than a laptop, and I can't figure out how to do the thanks thing with this app.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:31   #9
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Re: In-Water Rudder Inspection Question

Don't forget to check the quadrant setting and cables for slackness. May have to rerun and/or replace cables if stops failed or were moved off original position. Access may be a problem but better to check and be sure of integrity now than when you are underway. Autopilot ram and sensors could also be out of sync and have to be recalibrated. Also check accuracy of rudder indicator if you have one. Make sure there is no leakage through the rudder post stuffing box underway. Assume you checked for play in rudder shaft when you were diving on the rudder. Good luck... Capt Phil
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Old 12-03-2011, 15:08   #10
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Steering service...

I had involvement in the service of cable steering in a boat about the same size as yours a while ago. The main reason for the service was that the steering had an initial stiffness that did not augur well for an intended autopilot.

Quite a few issues came up. The main one was that as the steering was old most of the stainless steel machine screws used by the builder had seized in the aluminium pedestal casting. Disassembly was difficult and limited.

A manual was downloaded from the net and was helpful. However as the steering was so old some details were incorrect.

Once dissassembled the main issues were incorrect cable size for the steering pulleys, corroded galvanised cable clamps, dry bearings on the main steering wheel shaft, rudder stops incorrectly positioned and damaged joining links on the stainless steel chain (the lack of rudder stops had allowed the swagged cable fitting to jam against the cog).

The cable was replaced with the correct size, new stainless steel cable clamps were used (the manual noted the there is a right and a wrong way round for them to be installed), consultation with our local truckie supplier suggested Lanocote as a lubricant (penetrating oil actually made the steering stiffer...), rudder stops were correctly positioned and the joining links were replaced (expensive). I was not able to be present for the testing but the system felt much freer.

So the easiest in water check would be to do a full inspection and service. The manual that we downloaded mentioned checking the cable yearly by running a lightly oiled cloth along it, but also suggested replacing the cables every three years for boats that see a lot of use.

On reflection (too late) it may have been an idea to add some links to the chain. A local rigger had the parts!

If you can dissassemble the steering without shearing off the machine screws (don't ask) then do put some anti seize compound on them to make it easier the next time.

If you do supervise a service do check that the rudder turns in the correct direction before venturing out to test. The manual we had was quite dogmatic about correct assembly, but the addition of two idler pulleys gave incorrect rotation at the rudder!

Do be careful if diving. SF is cold enough in summer. You'd probably have to break the ice to get into the water at the moment, and climbing back into a boat with hypothermia is going to be almost impossible.
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Old 12-03-2011, 15:35   #11
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Re: In-Water Rudder Inspection Question

make sure there is no slop or play in the rudder with the rudder brake on and lashed--make sure is firmly affixed to its source-- whether gudgeons and pintles or whether there is a rudder post with tangs and foam.

heat your water wings

place lines on your boat to hold on to while in the water even if no current is visible. dont wanna lose ye
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Old 12-03-2011, 18:10   #12
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Re: In-Water Rudder Inspection Question

not sure how you will do this in the water but I would check the rudder stock where it enters the glass of the rudder, it may have a small crack here and will let water in the rudder. maybe a wire feeler guage run around the circumfrence to see if there is any separation of the glass to the metal of the rudder stock.
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Old 13-03-2011, 11:03   #13
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Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, they were helpful.

The good news is that we took the beast out for a daysail yesterday afternoon and had about 20 knots true so we were able to give it a test. When we got the boat out into the ocean there was a good swell on, and we did everything we could to induce weather helm.

Got back into the harbor with the rudder still attached.
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Old 13-03-2011, 13:24   #14
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Re: In-Water Rudder Inspection Question

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Got back into the harbor with the rudder still attached.
Great! Now you're going to give Hunter rudders a good name. What are people going to pick on now?
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Old 13-03-2011, 14:18   #15
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Originally Posted by Don Lucas

Great! Now you're going to give Hunter rudders a good name. What are people going to pick on now?
That's funny, because the 46/460/466 was the boat with the rudder problems when Hunter came out with carbon-fiber rudder post that the engineers thought would be stronger than steel posts. My H46LE, however, was built well after they switched back to steel posts. (I have hull #350, by the way, the last one built in that entire line.)

So, yeah, in was nice to take a tsunami stern-to and not lose a rudder. But I'll tell you, it was reassuring, when we took the boat out yesterday, to know that I carry a spare rudder down below.
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