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Old 23-04-2017, 16:53   #1
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Rudder play

Ive recently noticed my rudder moves about a 1/2 inch side to side with the wheel locked. You can see the shaft doesnt move, or the steering.

It is an O'day 40

How best do I diagnose the problem?

I am planning to haul out to do bottom soon...

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Old 23-04-2017, 20:59   #2
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Re: Rudder play

If the rudder blade is moving and the shaaft is not turning at all, you have a significant problem. Possible causes include the tabs that are welded to the shaft to keep the blade core (often foam) having broken off, the shaft itself may be sheared somewhere within the blade, or the foam could have compressed enough that the tabs can move inside the blade. All kinda bad news, sorry to say.

Most likely you will need to drop the rudder from the boat and dig into it from the side in order to expose the shaft and tabbing. Once exposed, the diagnosis and even the repairs are not that hard.

on the other hand, it may be that you are being fooled, and that the shaft is in fact moving even with the wheel locked. All it takes is a bit of slack in the cables to allow this, and there is an adjustment to remove the slack. EAsy peasy, so lets hope this is the cause!


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Old 24-04-2017, 05:51   #3
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Re: Rudder play

Thanks Jim, Im pretty much expecting the worst costwise.
Ive put alot of miles on this boat in the 17 yrs Ive owned her, many offshore back and forth between Florida and the northeast.

Part of me wants a new rudder and the peace of mind it will bring as Ive had to do some surgery on this one in the past, and Im afraid it is my fault it is failing. I am now struggling with the logistics and cost of redoing this one or just ordering a new one.

I am at the dock now but the water is too shallow to remove the rudder while the boat is in the water. Maybe I should move the boat to where I can drop rudder and see how bad damage is before committing to a new one?
Any thoughts on this or the actual process of grinding it open would be helpful. Yard fees over a few weeks add up quickly...
I keep thinking about what one friend said, just drill some holes and inject some epoxy but I know that is not the prudent course of action.
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Old 24-04-2017, 06:08   #4
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Re: Rudder play

As Jim mentioned, confirm that the actual post itself is not moving and not just the helm wheel when you move the rudder, as there is always a bit of play in the rig.

I would certainly take the time to inspect the old rudder before you order a new one. Once you get it out, you basically want to cut the skin off one side of it so you can get to the interior. Try not to cut all the way to the edges as it makes reglassing the skin back on more time consuming when you get to reconstruction. I'm going to guess that either the foam is toast or the tabs have come off, or both.

Rudder repair is not rocket science, and it's not that difficult. If the post and the tabs are in fact in good shape, that spares you a lot of cost in refurbishment, particularly if you do the glasswork and fairing yourself.

That said, no one could fault you for wanting to replace a 40 year old rudder if it gives you greater peace of mind.
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Old 24-04-2017, 07:08   #5
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Re: Rudder play

Foss Foam Products of Florida has the molds/drawings for your rudder.
See ➥ Standard Rudders |
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Old 24-04-2017, 07:12   #6
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Re: Rudder play

Obviously it's worth inspecting things to know for certain what's going on. And at 40yrs old, the current rudder's done it's job & then some. But before, & in addition to finding out what's going on inside of it, first check your steering cables for play. As well as checking to see if the keyway that your steering wheel slots onto isn't worn, ditto the slot for it in the wheel's hub. Since once either of those parts wears just a tiny bit, it translates into the helm feeling quite loose. And by a tiny bit, I mean that you literally couldn't fit a shim in there the thickness of a beer can, yet you'd have quite a bit of subjective rudder play.

Should you need to rebuild your rudder, Nicholson58 did an excellent job with his, which is documented in pics. He built the rudder's core out of slow curing epoxy mixed with microballoons. So there'll never be any opportunity for the core to get soaked again. And it'll be much, much tougher than a foam cored blade.

If you can't find the writeup, PM me, & I'll see about finding the text to go with the pics in his threads on the rebuild. Though I have reposted it a few times in the last couple of years, since rebuilding rudders is a common topic. So a search via my handle & the topic might turn it up as well.
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Old 24-04-2017, 08:34   #7
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Re: Rudder play

Thanks Suijin, The post is definitely not moving, you can see it clearly when wiggling rudder.

Thank you as well GordMay,helpful as usual. I already got an estimate...ouch!

Uncivilised, I had some delam and blisters I took care of exactly as you described about 12 years ago. Im curious to see what it looks like in there. If the post and tabs look good, I will probably do it myself. The boat is 30 years old...

I will do sore searching am am open to any suggestions from those who know.

Thanks all,

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