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Old 10-01-2010, 21:41   #1
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Stern-Hung Folkboat Rudder Repair - Need Help ASAP!


I need to fix the rudder on my Marieholm IF folkboat quickly and inexpensively.
Here are two images that show the problem. The rudder is in great shape below the first top pintol. How can I repair this quickly. Would a sandwiching this section with a heavy mahogany brace work? Epoxy? Must I cut out this section, repair the metal frame and make a new foam sandwich and layover a new epoxy weave skin? This is what the west systems epoxy manual recommends. What is the best way to renew/repair the metal fittings? Has anyone done this repair before? Links to this repair online would be really amazing. I need to do this in only a few days, and with next to no budget. Cruising on a dime. Anyone know a good and cheap marine repair center in Newport Beach California that doesn't cater to the wealthy? Also need a cheap place to haul-out and cradle.

Thanks! I'm in a jam
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Old 10-01-2010, 22:41   #2
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You are in a bit of a jam because marine repairs and cheap, easy and quick are rarely used in the same sentence.
From the photos it is clear that you have a bigger problem then just delamination as there are rust stains seeping out of the multiple cracks in your rudder. Many boat builders used metal (SS, or whatever) to build a reinforcing frame in the rudder and then applied wood, fiberglass or both over the metal framing to build the rudder so that it could withstand the forces it needed to handle. Once the metal (the last line of defense) begins to rust it is compromised you are left with having to rebuild and engineer the rudder which is a rather important component that enables your navigation.
You can still do it on the cheap but not without a bit of effort on your part. I would advise you to take the rudder off the boat, take it apart and have a metal shop fabricate you a new internal support system and then laminate the heck out of it with epoxy and cloth or even wood cores if you are willing to risk it.
Having a rudder or not is something you should not take for granted given the state of yours. Yours will break at the worst possible moment.
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Old 10-01-2010, 23:40   #3
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Thanks for your help.
I have a mahogany rudder from another folkboat. The bottom needs to be rebuilt, but here is an image of the upper section. Might I be able to use this wood to construct a brace? So I fill the cracks with epoxy, and bolt a sandwich brace using this wood? A bit ridiculous, but...
If the inner metal frame is corroded, how can I rebuild just this section??? If I have a a metal piece machined, as you recommend, do I weld the old to the new frame, and then might I use the original foam and laminate over it? Then glass over this?

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Old 11-01-2010, 15:09   #4
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Aloha Davey,
Is the only reason to haul out to repair the rudder? You can remove the rudder while still in the water if you'd like. Your photo shows the little jamb blocks on the rudder underneath the gudgeon. Each one of the pintle/gudgeon arrangement has the same jamb block. They have screws holding them in place and if you clean the forward edge of each little block you'll find the screw heads. Back out each screw, remove the jamb blocks and your rudder can be raised and popped off the gudgeons. If I remember right there are two screws for each jam block but I could be wrong. How I did it was flip the tiller backwards to swing the rudder all the way to one side, remove the screws while in that position then swing the rudder the opposite to remove the other screws. Once the jamb blocks around out of the way wiggling the rudder back and forth with some upward pressure will free it.
I would grind out the bad glass and see what's there. You could sandwhich the bad section between two pieces of nice mahogany once you've sealed up the damaged area. Another poster has mentioned the rusty marks. That indicates something wrong in there so I wouldn't ignore it.
Good luck
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Old 11-01-2010, 17:51   #5
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SkiprJohn makes a good point. Before worrying about totally re-building your rudder you should grind out the areas where the crack(s) are weeping rust stains in order to remove the bad material and so you can see if you can tell how bad the corrosion is on the embedded metal rudder supports that are glassed into the rudder. A 4-1/2" grinder with a rough sandpaper disk will take this down pretty quickly. For a good structural repair you should sand down to the bottom of the crack and fair out the edges at a 12:1 ratio - if the crack is 1/4" deep then you should fair out to about 3" on either side for example. If you repair it with epoxy and cloth it should make a pretty good structural repair. It looks like you will have to chip and/or sand away quite a bit of material but working with epoxy resin and glass it is not so difficult to rebuild what you have removed.
Hopefully the internal metal reinforcement pieces are not rusted through. It can be difficult to stop rust once it has begun but if you can stop the water intrusion you should be able to slow the process down. My first post assumed you would have to rebuild the internal metal framing which is perhaps not absolutely necessary. You wont know until you open it up and see what is going on in there.
I can't tell if the worst area is below the water line although I would bet it is. You could use your piece of mahogany to reinforce your patch but I wouldn't plan on that at this stage. First do the destructive investigation/fairing of those cracks and then repair it.
Is there any way your mahogany rudder piece can be repaired and used as a rudder on your boat? If you could also repair this wooden rudder it could serve as a backup for your FRP (fiberglass - also known as GRP) rudder. I would resist laminating pieces of wood over the repair on your FRP rudder as you would then be hiding any future problems underneath the wood.
Again, best of luck.
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Old 11-01-2010, 18:52   #6
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Buy quality marine plywood and glue it with epoxy to get the thickness. Work the shape with power tools. Glass with fine rowing/epoxy. Fill, smooth, paint. Put the original fittings in place. Go sailing.

If the original rudder is damaged mechanically (say from a hit rather than by de-lamination and old age) and if there was no/little water ingression you may try fixing it by sandwiching in wood/plywood, but you have to make sure you will be able to fit in the original fitting. Tricky.

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Old 13-01-2010, 00:20   #7
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Go down to your local hardwoods dealer (that's 'hardwood' not 'hardware'), and pick yourself out a nice length of 6/4 or 8/4 white oak of the appropriate width and length. (It should run you around $100 for a piece of 6/4 x 1' x 8', or 12 board feet, for example.) Then use the old rudder as a pattern to fashion the new rudder out of the slab of white oak. Clean and reuse as much of the old rudder hardware (pintle/gudgeons/whatever) as possible. Coat the new rudder with either pine pitch, paint, or layer it with fiberglass....your choice. That would be the cheapest option. Tools are minimal and should be readily available to rent or borrow for a day. All that it takes is a Skilsaw, a heavy duty handheld jigsaw with a long blade, and a heavy duty handheld belt sander with a 50 or 80 grit belt or two.
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