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Old 06-06-2012, 19:01   #1
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Rudder Repair

I've asked this question on Catalina specific forum, but I figured that I extend this question to this forum as well for doctor's second opinion.

Here it goes:

This rudder if off Catalina 25. The area of concern is all above waterline. But here is some background:

Before I went back in for the season this year I looked at the pintles on the rudder and noticed that all bolts were loose - caught it in time.

Well I've noticed bit of a crack in gelcoat under the lower pintle - which I'm assuming might be from over tightening and of course pressure. Didn't look too bad so I didn't think too much about it. I had some epoxy premixed for different repair so i just filled the crack on edge with bit of epoxy to ensure moisture doesn't get in and I planned on repairing it properly over the next winter.

Then I've tightened the bolts and off I went. Last weekend I've noticed that lower pintle has shifted up a bit so I decided to take the rudder off for closer inspection. Here's what I've found:

First area that is big concern (lower pintle):


Is this opening along the edge normal - does not really feel soft except for one area about 1" (seem delamination might be starting). it's been like that since I got the boat back in 2008.


This is the another area of concern as the crack is going through the bolt. Although it doesn't appear to go right through.




Here you can see last season the nut was bit loose and I suppose it bore the hole bit bigger.


After reading bit more about rudder cracks, I got bit nervous. Good news is that it doesn't look like the crack is right through. Seems that gelcoat has cracked from over tightening. Also I suppose when the lower pintle was loose the inner bolt bore a bit bigger hole - hence the pintle has shifted up a bit.

What's your advice on it?

Based on few threads I've looked at, everyone highly recommends getting new balanced rudder. Well i can look into that but I'd like to get one more season at bare minimum on this rudder, as I'm in the process of getting a trailer.

Would you recommend to attempt the repair or this rudder I should consider it write off?
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Old 06-06-2012, 19:27   #2
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Re: Rudder Repair

You may grab an orbital sander and remove the cracked gelco. Then you will see if the underlying laminate is sound, or not.

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Old 06-06-2012, 19:27   #3
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Re: Rudder Repair

If the rudder is still intact, then the gelcoat can be repaired. Wikipedia has a brief on gelcoat repair.

Gelcoat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If the fiberglass is damaged in any way, you will need to replace the whole danged thing. Even so, I would go ahead and replace it since you have it off.
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Old 06-06-2012, 20:04   #4
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Re: Rudder Repair

The first option would be to grind off the old gel coat and see if the cracks penetrate the internal laminations. If all is ok- dry the holes and area for several days at least, in a very warm area. Refill the holes with Epoxy. Re-flowcoat the area, then re drill the bolt holes.

Based on those images, the cracks certainly dont appear to go through to the inside of the rudder. My guess is that they are simply in the gel coat and the repair will be more cosmetic and preventative rather than structural.

There is quite a lot of twisting loads on pintles, and cracks in that area aren't unusual as a result.
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Old 06-06-2012, 20:19   #5
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Re: Rudder Repair

Thanks for replies right the way.

What about this joint along the edge? It has been like that since I bought the boat? It goes from top to of the rudder ot water line... everything below water line has been covered with ?VC-tar? and it looks and feels solid.




But should i sand off entire edge? or just grind out the seam and put epoxy in?
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Old 06-06-2012, 20:28   #6
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Re: Rudder Repair

You need to provide a strong point that will take the load when you tighten the nut on the bolt. After repairing any damage to the core and FG, drill the holes out about 1/4" beyond the size of the bolt and fill the holes with epoxy thickened with cabosil. Then drill out the bolt holes with a close tolerance. That way when you tighten the bolts the stress will bear on the epoxy and not the core/fg/gelcoat.

I'm not sure about the join. Its very difficult to tell from the picture what is on the inside of the gap.
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Old 25-06-2012, 19:23   #7
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Re: Rudder Repair

Well I found local bout builder that was willing to attempt the repair.

Cost of repair $340 (bit more than i expected but based on quality of work i had no issues). We installed the pintles in the right places and once he left i decided to go for a spin. It was bit gusty but nothing crazy. About 10 kt with gusts of 15 max (probably even less). I sailed out approx 6 miles away from the marina and I was having wonderful time!

At one point i was close hauled - full sails - and CRACK!!!! Boat started rounding up - so i knew right the way what happened. Well the rudder crack right in half! approx 3 - 4 inches below the repair!

Once i dropped the sails i realized that I can't drop the motor as the broken rudder is in the way! well after about 5 mins or so of acrobatics at the transom I ripped the broken rudder right off and was able to put the motor in the water. Finally i had some steerage!

I called the marina on the radio to ask for assistance once I get back to the entrance and so they know that I'm dealing with issues in case things go south. Well the girl that was on watch told me that she'll get coast guard to get me. Well by that time I had everything under control and I asked for the harbourmaster - i've gotten to know him over the years. He offered right the way to come and get me and assist any way he could!

Well the harbourmaster met me just outside of entrance and towed me back to my slip! Once we were back in I asked them: "what do I owe you" the answer i got "don't worry about it Daniel"

All in all: i made it back in safely. I've wasted 340 on the repair. And I've in invested $50 (case of beer) in the marina crew!


Repaired part:




After first sail:








The guy claims that it has nothing to do with his repair as the rudder just failed at a different spot. I won't get any of my money back nor he'll give me discount on another rudder.

So now i need to order new rudder. I'm looking at 2 options:
1. Foss foam rudder
2. HDPE rudder

i've been reading about differences and i'm starting to get a headache. Any feedback from the pros?

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Old 25-06-2012, 19:58   #8
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Re: Rudder Repair

I guess we all underestimated the damage. When I go back now and look carefully at the pictures you posted it is obvious that the laminate is damaged. Looking at the pictures of the broken rudder it appears that there was a very poorly laid up join right where it snapped.

Why don't you make your own rudder? You have all the pieces to use as templates. I would suggest you use a high density foam and epoxy laminate, and make the laminate a little thicker than the original.
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Old 27-06-2012, 17:12   #9
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Re: Rudder Repair

I am handy... but I think my preference is to leave the build of new rudder to the experts.

I'm trying to decided between Foss Foam wrapped with glass or HDPE rudder.

Foss Foam rudders have been around for a while. I'm little thrown off as what happened to me... but i have no idea how old that rudder was as I know for sure it's not original. Back in 85 those rudders were wood core.

I don't know much about HDPE rudder though. They seem to be on the market for 10 years. After some ups and downs they seem to come quite long way.

What do you folks thing? another foam rudder or should it give it a try with HDPE rudder?
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