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Date Posted: - Thursday - 03/29/07 - 10:59am
Author: Steve B
Subject: M31 Rudder Repair or Replace ?

During the rebuild process, I removed the rudder for inspection and to replace the rusted out bolts. I noticed the rudder had surface cracks, some penetrating well over half the depth of the rudder. The material looks like a soft wood, Cedar or Redwood which makes replacing it an expensive, custom project. Has anyone sanded these down and glassed them to add strength. With the bolts properly installed it seems like they (the bolts) add allot of strength to the rudder. Should I face the fact that I need to replace it, or recondition it with sanding and glasswork? Any advice will be much appreciated.

Steve

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Replies:

[> Wood rudder -- Steve M-32 Pyxis, - Thursday - 03/29/07 - 4:56pm

According to the literature the material is "Yacal". I'm curious as to the "rusted out bolts" as mine are bronze. I'm also assuming you are referring to the drift bolts that hold the rudder together fore and aft. If the drift bolts are intact I wouldn't do anything to the rudder other than sand and repaint it. The cracks will close up after a few days in the water and will give you no trouble. Glassing it will probably cause more problems than it solves.


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[> [> Thanks Steve -- Steve B, - Thursday - 03/29/07 - 5:17pm

Thanks Steve,
Yes, the bolts are bronze, but most of the nuts and threads were either broken off or corroded and not reusable. One of the bolts was almost completely eaten through in the middle with corrosion, half or less of it's original diameter.
Strange, because I assumed bronze was safe against that kind of corrosion. I think you're right. A good sanding and paint job should do it.

Thanks again.

Steve B


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[> Confused. -- Randall, - Thursday - 03/29/07 - 6:05pm

Steve B,

I made an informal study of glassed-over wooden rudders while Murre was on the hard last year. Many had developed blistering problems or the glass had pealed off in large chunks altogether (I assume due to moister in the wood effecting glass adhesion).

And on the other side of the coin, some of the old wooden boats in the yard had quite sever cracking in the wood of the rudder or in other parts of the hull where large sections of solid timer were used. The old wooden boat guys just seem to paint and go.

On Murre the wood of the rudder is close grained and very hard. Interesting you say yours is soft.

Id love to hear more about the anatomy of our rudders. Have never had mine out or apart. I think I know that the wood fastens to the bronze post via fore and aft rods extending from the post aft and into the rudder, but if these rods have nuts on them, how are they got at? I cant visualize what, on your boat, has corroded.

You got pictures?

RR


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[> [> Rudders -- Steve B, - Friday - 03/30/07 - 11:25am

I'll take some pictures this week and send them to you.

Until then I'll try and explain what I found on mine. You're right, the bronze bolts extend throught the rudder post and penetrate the entire length of the rudder, horizontally. There were 4 or 5 wooden plugs in the aft edge of the rudder, covering the nuts, the plugs are about an inch in diameter, the nut was a 9/16 or 5/8 inch, can't remember. The glue that was used on the plugs wasn't very durable as all of the plugs were either loose or missing. Every nut was either broken off, missing altogether or corroded beyond practical use. I'm a little nervous about this original design, but I may have the only Mariner with this problem. As you know, rudders have to work right all the time. I don't see any other posts about problems with rudders. I plan on sanding and painting the original rudder and re-installing it. I may fill the cracks with some epoxy after sanding and before painting it. I lost a rudder on a Santana once, had to drag an anchor off the port or starboard side to steer it back to the marina. No fun. I'll try and get some pics to you when I install it.


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[> [> [> Makes sense, thanks. -- Randall, - Friday - 03/30/07 - 1:52pm

That makes perfect sense. I've never taken the after edge of the rudder down to bare wood; thus, missed the plugs. Thanks much for the description.

Odd re the nuts at the end. Wonder what it implies? Extreme pressure on the rods at the bitter end? For boats of our size, the rudder is massive, but thats counter intuitive. Electrolysis? Seems this would have attacked the lower gudgeon first.

Curious to know what you think as you keep working thru. How is the weld where the rod contacts the post holding up?

Do you have the rudder entirely apart? i.e. could you take snaps of the bronze skeleton itself?

Not sure I'd bother with the fill. I've tried to fair the leading edge of Murres rudder with epoxy, but after a few months it blows off from all the water pressure there.

Thanks again.

RR


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[> [> [> [> RudderTalk -- Steve B, - Friday - 03/30/07 - 2:55pm

I have an annode bolted to the prop shaft, which has nearly disentgrated, looks like it's doing it's job. Unless the rudder is grounded to the boat, you may be right, it could be electrolysis. The thru bolts aren't welded to the rudder frame tubing. They have a beveled head on the fore side and sit into a tapered recess in the rudder frame. I had to drive them out from the aft side of the rudder using a long drift punch. I'll get you some pictures this week.

Steve


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