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Old 22-08-2009, 21:07   #1
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Tiller/Rudder Locked-Up/Seized

So Himself has been really working hard and has the v berth almost prepped; scraped, sanded and scrubbed down. He has been covered in paint chips alot recently. As a reward I packed a nice lunch and then while he was busy scraping and sanding his heart out I stowed all the work supplies and tools in the cabin, started up the motor and cast off. The plan was to call him above deck when we were out of the slip and into the main channel out of the marina. I was planning on sparing him the anxiety he was gonna have watching me take her out with out anyone at my elbow watching... he is SUCH a nervous nelly...

So it was beautiful, sunny and calm, perfect weather for practicing maneuvering our new little hole in the water... Backed out so sweet and easy, put it in forward and eased ahead. Shifted the tiller to bring us to starboard and head straight up the marina channel. And I notice the tiller won't move past the centerline. HUMMM. Shift it slightly back to starboard, moves fine, shift back to centerline and can't move beyond it. Try shifting back to starboard and discover it is now locked in line with the center of the boat and won't swing either direction. What followed was a slightly hysterical deck dance as I realized I had no rudder and was heading towards a neighbors boat. fast. or at least it seemed in the moment to be very rapidly... Hit the reverse and slowed up enough to back away from the other boat, calling calmly but with great urgency for Himself to come up RIGHT ****ING NOW please, which, bless his heart he did, and like a good german soldier he followed instructions, took the outboard in hand and ran it while I directed us close enough to the end of a dock to make the jump from the deck to the dock with a line in hand.

After that it was relatively calm. I pulled the boat to a stop and kept it from doing more than kissing the corner of the dock. Snubbed her off to a cleat, got a line from himself off the bow, and walked her around and back home into our slip...

well damn. that was not how I was planning on it going... so much for the romantic lunch on the bay...

Since it was a warm day I climbed into the water and dove the hull, searching for anything that would explain the sudden and unexpected lockup of the rudder/tiller assembly. I found the expected yucky stuff on the hull, not too bad since I had scrapped it with a brush prior to the start of our short little trip. But nothing else fouled under the boat that would account for the technical difficulties were were experiencing...

So, now is a good time to remind myself of all that good stuff like challenges are just unexpected learning opportunities and the whole purpose of a hobby is to have an unending and undoable number of tasks to work towards completing. and don't get a boat if you are goal oriented and not into embracing the journey.

So now our journey has taken a turn towards the repair and maintenance of a tiller/rudder assembly on a Cal 28.

HELP!!!!!!??????!!!!!!! : -O



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Old 22-08-2009, 22:25   #2
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So I assume you did not find the problem while in the water?

Is the rudder attached to the keel or to a skeg?

Did you check in the cockpit lazarettes to see if something had jammed up the rudder post?

Is there an autopilot that might have the rudder jammed?
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Old 22-08-2009, 23:07   #3
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I did not find anything underneath.
I don't know how to describe the setup on my boat. Here is a picture.

Maybe you can tell me what it is ; -)

The rudder doesn't go thru the lazarette, but when I look in the cabin under the cockpit I don't see anything interfering with it. I just checked it, thanks for the good idea, but nothing looks like it could be the culprit there... It's in a round casing.



There is no auto pilot.
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Old 22-08-2009, 23:31   #4
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OK, so it looks like the rudder post is inside that fiberglass tube right?

First, make sure you don't have the tiller backwards so that when you think it's jammed amidships, it's actually all the way over to one side or the other. From the pics, it looks ok to me, but just check to make sure by moving the tiller as far as it will go away from amidships.... it might go all the way around in which case your problem might be solved!

And you are sure there was nothing on the bottom that was jamming it? In the line drawing, is that a skeg in front of the rudder or does the rudder post bisect the rudder?

Where does it "feel" like it's jammed? Can you hear anything when the tiller locks up?

Is there an online Cal owner's group where you can look to see if anyone else has run into this? Maybe see if the PO has had this problem before?

If nothing else works, you will probably have to take the assembly below the tiller apart to find the problem. But if you do this, the rudder may actually fall out of the bottom of the boat, so take precautions to be able to recover the rudder if necessary and also to make sure the boat does not sink due to water coming in thru the rudder post tube! Might be best to haul the boat before taking that apart.
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Old 22-08-2009, 23:54   #5
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The rudder post is in a sealed tube that runs from the hull up thru the self bailing (above the water line) cockpit. Even if there was nothing in it (rudder and tiller removed) it would not jeopardize the boat.

The rudder, under the hull is lined up along the center line. The tiller in the cockpit is lined up along the center line. It won't move at all. not one solitary fraction of a degree. The tiller is hinged so it can be flipped fore or aft for ease of handling in a small cockpit, but there is no rotational movement in any direction. The rudder underneath will not move either.

It made no discernible noise when it locked up, but the outboard was running so only a really loud noise would have been heard. It gives no feed back as to *where* the bind is since it has no movement at all.

I am as sure as I can be with out a tank to allow me a longer look. I checked it manually by running my hand over the whole rudder on both sides and felt nothing beyond the shape of the rudder. But that was holding my breath and swimming under and I would never claim to be infallible. If there is something there it's small and not readily apparent under hand inspection.

I don't know about skegs... only skegs I know about are busted off surfboards and in need of replacement by Santa...

The rudder, if it is a hinged affair, is all lined up straight down below.

I am scouring the Cal 28 site, but it's not an interactive site so I can't just *ask* I have to find something buried in web pages of not very accessible posts that are not threaded in anyway...

We have already had occur to us the "rudder dropping straight to the bottom of the marina floor when we unscrew a critical pin" scenario. Any feed back on how to avoid this will be appreciated ; -)
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Old 23-08-2009, 00:21   #6
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What caused you to take apart the tiller/rudder post when the rudder fell out of the boat? That raises questions in my mind.

Otherwise, it sounds like several possible causes:

The rudder might be jammed against the hull from being turned too far in one direction, possibly "backwards".

Something slipped into the tube to jam up the post.

Some part of the post assembly, maybe a bushing, is broken and is causing the jam.

Barring some other way to identify the problem, such as thru the owner's group, I think you need to haul the boat, and take things apart. That's the safest way to avoid losing something.. the rudder or some other part.

But first I would get a diving mask and a light and take another look at the bottom. Make sure the rudder looks like the line drawing says it should look and is not jammed against the hull, or something else you did not spot the first time you went in the water.
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Old 23-08-2009, 00:29   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
What caused you to take apart the tiller/rudder post when the rudder fell out of the boat? That raises questions in my mind.
I am not quite sure what you are talking about here... The rudder hasn't fallen off my boat. It is jammed and won't turn... I haven't taken it apart. I mentioned that we had already considered that if we did have to take it apart the chance of it dropping seemed like a possibility. I have no working knowledge of how the mechanism actually is designed but it seemed like a possibility to consider and you even mentioned up there to consider it...
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Old 23-08-2009, 00:48   #8
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There are no bearings other than the fiberglass tube itself. The rudder is a spade rudder. On the 34 the rudder can spin 360 degrees, on the 40 it jams when it is almost 180 degrees around. 34 shaft is perpendicular to the hull, the 40 isn't quite. I don't know for the 28.

After years of use the fiberglass tube wears. Some people add brass or plastic coke bottle shims to keep the rudder from banging around. If they somehow overran each other and bunched up, that could cause a jam.

Did you run your hands over the area where the rudder meets the hull? When the rudder is lined up with the boat that is the time when the top of the rudder and the hull have the least clearance from each other, and when something could jam between the rudder and hull.

The rudder should float. If not it has water in the core. It would be good to make sure it is still good (at some other time). Anyway drop a loop of line under the stern, let it sink under the rudder, pull up tight under the rudder and cleat it off on both sides of the boat and you won't lose the rudder. There should only be a washer and the headstock on top of the rudder post.

Join the Cal_boats group at Yahoo, lots of Cal experienced people there.
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Old 23-08-2009, 00:50   #9
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You said: "We have already had occur to us the "rudder dropping straight to the bottom of the marina floor when we unscrew a critical pin" scenario."

My mistake.. I thought you were saying it had happened before.

Anyway, you could prevent the rudder dropping by securing it with a line from each side of the boat, with each line having a loop going around the rudder and tied off. But the loop has to be very tight on each line, so the rudder does not slip through. Then the rudder would slip a few inches but not all the way. However, you would still risk something else falling to the bottom.
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Old 23-08-2009, 02:30   #10
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Bearings...

Your description did not include bearings, so I'm assuming none.

If that is the case then "normal" wear and tear may take place in a fore and aft direction in the tube, and on the sides of the shaft.

I'm guessing that as you backed out the rudder shaft was pushed forward possibly into a "groove" that had been worn in the forward part of the tube. When you went forward it either stayed there or slid back dislodging something that fell down and jammed it.

Try gently rocking the tiller head in a fore and aft direction. If you can get a little movement then try a little gentle rotational movement. It may "unstick". If underwater try working the bottom of the rudder in a for and aft direction. Be very careful not to get your fingers between the boat and the rudder, or yourself under the rudder!!!

Replacement (or installation) of bottom bearings on your rudder may be in order.
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Old 23-08-2009, 06:53   #11
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It sounds to me that you have a bent rudder post.........something impacted the leading edge of the rudder, bending the rudder post. Check underwater for markings on the hull where the top of the rudders TRAILING edge would have touched the hull.
Had this happen to me on a Catalina 27 that I was moving from one location to another.
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Old 23-08-2009, 12:38   #12
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ok, so it sounds like I don't have bearings that can seize up, per Cal40John.

We might have 'something' that was added by previous owners to sheathe the rudder post shaft, but I won't know that until I open it up. possibly coke bottles... who knew sail boats liked soda??

The rudder jammed against the hull, by being over rotated, issue is still floating in my brain as a possible or not... Could that have happened under these circumstances;

Boat is in slip, tiller is flipped forward in the standard position for use, out board is on and in reverse. I shift the tiller to starboard about 75 and she backs out, her stern leading to port, into the marina channel. I flip the motor into forward and swing the tiller towards port; at the center line it stops. I swing it back towards starboard and then back to port and it stops in the center position. I try to swing back to starboard and discover it is now completely locked up and will not shift in any direction. I am trying to get clear in my head if there is anyway this set of actions could have positioned the rudder so that it would bind up against the hull and then leave it all aligned down below when I inspected it.

Wouldn't I have felt an impact thru the tiller if I had hit something? And keep in mind we were going in reverse... very slowly. not underway where a log fish can sorta bite ya.. I have had that happen on other boats... not fun... had to replace a dinged prop on that one.
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Old 23-08-2009, 12:51   #13
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Wow! You are getting a lot of help. Hope you can sort it out and I hope the rudder was not impacted.
I know you've probably already tried this but can you lift the rudder post at all or is it completely jammed? What I'm thinking is if there is a spot where the rudder head has a little groove it fell into just enough to not allow it to be turned?
Good luck on another challenge in which you may be allowed to excel.
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Old 23-08-2009, 12:52   #14
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Oh, by the way, good emergency response. Well done!
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Old 23-08-2009, 13:08   #15
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Oh, by the way, good emergency response. Well done!
Thank you! We were pretty pleased with ourselves when we did an AAR on it all. Certainly our response was much improved over the effort when we had our halyard incident...

That one ended with me screaming something like "You fornicating cat" at Himself and leaving him to wrap up the main that was flapping in the wind...

*winces*

This was MUCH better ; -)
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