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Thread: Rudder Post and Stuffing Box

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Default Rudder Post and Stuffing Box

    Has anyone ever serviced this parts of the boat anatomy? When she was in the yard, Dura Mater had a propeller shaft replaced, but I didn't address the Rudder Post. When I asked a friend he said, "Oh, don't get into that! That can be REALLY expensive." And, of course I believe that it can be really expensive, but it is sort of important, too, right? My boat is a Cal 2-27. If anyone plans on addressing his/her rudder shaft, can I come watch? Can it be done at the dock or does it have to be on land? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Sep 2007
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    When you had the prop shaft replaced they would have (should have) serviced/repacked the shaft's stuffing box. If it's the conventional type (not dripless), there should be a drop of water coming from it every few seconds. If so all should be well, although I might check with the yard to make sure they did that work.

    The rudder post and its bearings are a whole 'nuther matter. Does the tiller/rudder turn easily and smoothly? Have you dropped the rudder to inspect the shaft while the boat's been hauled out? If not, I'd do that before you venture very far offshore. I had the lower rudder bearing replaced before the 2006 SHTP and now the upper bearing is loose, so that's on the list for my next haul-out. If you can wait until October you can have a look.

  3. #3
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    I will wait until October unless I get a better offer. Thanks, Bob. I remember the hefty cost of your lower rudder bearing.

  4. #4
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    You read the story about my J/33 and its rudder problems, and that WAS expensive. The lower bearing for Rags was about $100 - we were able to have a new one turned at a local machine shop. It was the haul-out and labor to replace it that was expensive (it's a boat).

  5. #5
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    Sep 2007
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    Jackie, I was able to drop my old bent rudder post with the boat in the water. I just tied a line to it outside the hull and pushed it out from the cockpit. But most other jobs (including installing a rudder, unless you hire a strong and extraordinarily dextrous diver) would require a haulout.

    My partner and I machined new delrin rudder bushings for our boat several years ago because it had quite a lot of play. Making them ourselves it wasn't expensive, but it took several trips back and forth to the boatyard to get them to press in nicely. Fiberglass tubes (at least ours) tend not to be very uniform in size and roundness.

    When my new rudder is done and I haul out to install it, you can come and have a look. This'll be at San Francisco Boat Works. Last time I was there, there was a pile of old rudders with corroded posts that would be edifying (or alarming) to examine. Did you see photos of my old rudder post? It didn't look bad at the area that was exposed in the water, but it cracked and bent inside the blade. Stainless steel corrodes worst where it's covered up and starved of oxygen. Nasty business.

  6. #6
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    Thank you, Max. I'd love to come watch.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2007
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    Dear DuraMater Pilot,
    I had a rudder fail on my Olson 34 about 500 miles east of Hawaii. Back up rudder worked well. As mentioned in Max's post, I also was shown a pile of dead rudders, bent or broken, at Advanced Composites, where my new rudder was fabricated. It was alarming to see 15 or so 1970's to 1980's design boat rudders piled up with failed internal stainless structures. My boat was a 1987 vessel, never sailed in salt water until I obtained it in 1998. This may sound a little nuts, but if it were me, I would bore some one inch inspection holes into the rudder along the line of the post. Especially where the post is pinched down and welded to the internal structure (typical of that era rudder) and look for corrosion along any welds or crimped/pressed connections. Then if all looks good seal it up with foam and have it glassed and fared.

    As mentioned by Bob, another area where I had issues was bearing loading. The rudder would get very hard to steer in a blow on a reach. The rudder bearing, a delrin sleeve, was binding on the shaft. New bearings, or the roller bearing variety, made a huge difference.

    You might consider calling Foss Foam in Irvine/Orange county and asking for their experience. There is a good chance they made these rudders.

    Or you can just happily proceed to Hawaii and make sure you have a great emergency rudder solution.

    I know the effort to inspect sounds tough. Good luck.

    Brian

  8. #8
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    Dear BB, do you have photos of your emergency rudder?

  9. #9
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    Jackie,
    You should (don't mean to harp) have dropped the rudder when the boat was out of the water to check the shaft and look at the bearings - visual inspection. Brian's advice about cutting in to look at the web is also a very good one. If it's a typical rudder of the era, the shaft is stainless. The webbing is also stainless and has been welded to the shaft, either by folding it around the shaft, or just welded on - sort of spot welded. Salt water inside the rudder, limited (or no) oxygen + stainless is a battery. Those piles of old rudders are testimony to this.

    Furthermore, I think you should address the issue of emergency steering sooner than later. I think there's a thread somewhere on this SSS website and also the PacCup website. An emergency rudder needs to be able to steer the boat with no more effort on your part than the regular rudder. If you're seriously thinking Hawaii, that might mean for a week or more - and you can't stay awake that long! The expense of designing and building an adequate ER is an investment well worth it. I think it's serious even for SSS/OYRA offshore races - that's why mine is tucked under the cockpit right now.

    Pat

  10. #10
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    In 1997 a rebuilt Universal 2-12 engine was installed on Dura Mater. Noted is "repack shaft log with drip-free". I've read about "dripless" stuffing boxes. Then, in 2008, a local yard "removed hose clamps (4) on shaft log and cleaned shaft log corrosion". Can anyone guess what this means (you are not being graded here)?
    Last edited by Philpott; 08-06-2013 at 12:54 PM.

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