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Old 12-04-2010, 09:59   #1
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Water in Rudder

Good morning

I am in the process of buying a boat (my first one). The seller is telling me that when he took the boat out of the water last fall, he noticed water coming out of the rudder. He drilled a hole at the bottom of the ruder and about a cup of water came out. He believe that the rudder is built of fiberglass over foam (not certain). The boat is a 1979 Hughes 35. Does anyone knows if this is a big deal and if it is, how to fix it.

Thanks
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:41   #2
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If there was water coming out of the rudder, then there must be another hole somewhere it is getting in from that you need to find. To fix, you probably will end up making a bigger hole to dry out the rudder core, make sure the stock and reinforcement is OK, drain with a heat lamp, then refiberglass the whole thing.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:47   #3
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No one can tell for sure without a more thorough exam but suffice it to say it CAN be a big deal.
Many rudders are foam core over a steel webbing. Over time, the welds can rust weakening the bond which could give out at the worst time (not that any time is a good one...). Only way to tell for certain is rip apart the rudder to be sure. A good (read - bad) sign is brown (rust colored) water leaking out of the bottom.
Sounding the rudder is not a definitive way of telling anything except if the rudder is a) delaminated or b) full of water. Sounding can't determine the quality of the webbing welds.

I have seem folks drill large inspection holes but that only exposes the specific area(s) of the holes.
About the only good thing I can say is you appear to have an honest seller.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:10   #4
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Thanks for the replies

I did more searching on this forum and realized that I was not the first one asking this question.

A cup of water came out of the rudder

Thanks again

Pierre
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:12   #5
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Happens to a lot of boats. Most folks just drill a hole in the bottom at fall haul-out and drain it do that it doesn't freeze and split the rudder or delaminate it. if you want it to be perfect you'll have to cut it open, inspect the stainless web, refoam and re-glass.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:21   #6
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When I purchased my boat the rudder was cracked (vintage 1973). Most rudders like mine were built by foss foam. I talked to them about a new one ($4K). So sanded minedown and re-fiberglassed the entire thing being very care of sealing rudder stock at top and bottom. That is were they usually leak due to heating and cooling expansion contraction. So far so good. On a boat that old I would put on my to do list, pull rudder, seal with 5 layers epoxy and pay special attention to rudder stock interface.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:11   #7
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On my '81 Cabo Rico 38 the water was enterng the foam core via fiberglass cracks around the shaft, top and bottom, ( from vibration?). There is a stainless steel plate welded to the shaft within the foam.
The rudder was removed from the boat. One side of the rudder was cut away and the old foam replaced and the whole thing re-glassed.

Several years later, after an encounter with rocks in a surf due to a piece of coral lodged in the bruce, the whole process with the rudder was repeated. This time two inches of the bottom of the rudder was gone.
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Old 12-04-2010, 20:58   #8
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The rudder posts on my cat are made of ss pipe. Since the rudders are skeg mounted, that the posts are hollow doesn't seem to be a problem.

But because they are hollow, it is possible to pump any water in the rudder out from the topside while the boat is afloat. First though, you need to drill a couple of holes through the centerline of the rudder down low, and through both walls of the pipe. After plugging the holes through leading edge of the rudder, you are ready to go for any future water leakage.

So if your rudder post is pipe, you might consider doing this.

Perhaps the water in my rudder (reallyonly in one rudder) leaks in from the top at decklevel. Doubtful, but I'd like to think so.
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Old 26-04-2010, 07:41   #9
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Foam density

Hi

Well, the decision has been made for me. The surveyor wrote in his report that I must repair the rudder for the boat to be insurable. So be it. I am planning to open up each side of it, inspect the metal work (repair if needed), replace the internal foam with high density closed cell foam and reglass the whole thing. Everything sounds so easy on paper.

There is several density of high density foam (Up to 90 lbs/sq inch I understand). Could somebody tell me what density foam I should use to rebuild my rudder?

Thanks
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Old 26-04-2010, 09:55   #10
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Pierre,

I sail out of Chester (Gold River). If you were lake sailing, I wouldn't worry about it. But, as you are on the Atlantic, and losing a rudder could be a big deal, I would open it up, and have a look. I did that on my 1978 rudder last year. Turned out the internall SS frame was fine. As I had it open anyway, I welded extra stainess steel "fingers" and braces onto the existing framework. Then filled and reglassed the open side.

You only have to open up one side. If you can talk to any other Hughes owners, who have done this, they may tell you that one side is easier to open up then the other. This was the case with mine, as it was built laying one side down, of course, and it seemed to have more solid glass encasing the rudder post and framework. Of course, I didn't twhat, and opened up the "beefier" side.

Before you cut one side out, tap everywhere and use a perma-marker to outline where it seems more hollow (and this easier to cut through).

I would not cut out the complete side, as I think it best to leave a few inches of old glass all the way around, so you can grind down the edge, at a 12:1 bevel or so, to allow room to reglass after. I also like that the ends of the tangs were still under the aft edge of the old skin, as I think that may make it stronger.

I have a workshop and welder about an hour outside of Halifax. If your framework needs welding work, let me know. I may be able to help you out (if you don't have access to welding).

Here's a couple of pics of mine opened up. Usually, I don't believe that you would find all of the solid glass encasing the rudder post and tangs / fingers (which I had to cut away later, to see the existing gframework welds and then weld more to it).
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Old 26-04-2010, 10:47   #11
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Thanks Northeaster

I just found out by picking at it with a screw driver and showing it to a few people here in Dartmouth that this rudder is not the original. Part of it seem glassed through and part of it has wood (rotten wood) in it. So I just bought some cutting wheels and will do surgery on it tomorrow evening.

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