Rudders and such

One of several repair tasks on Serenity was replacing her rudder. The old one was basically a short tiller arm bolted to the rudder stock, which was bolted to the rudder blade. Just about as simple as you could make it…

Here’s an early, unfinished pic of the original rudder:

IMG_0414

While this design worked, it was kind of lacking in a few ways:

  • The blade had a tendency to unbolt from the stock. This never actually became a critical problem, mainly because Serenity was never on the water for more than a few hours at a time, and I’d check that bolt/nut to make sure it was tight before embarking.
  • There was a lot of flex between the blade and stock. With only one contact point, (the bolt), and all the forces pushing on the rudder, it would bend laterally under strain. Again, this never got so bad that it failed, but it certainly wasn’t the strongest way to do it.
  • No way to hoist the rudder up when coming in to land, going over sandbars, etc. Instead, it mostly gets dragged through rocks, mud, sand, etc. Not the end of the world, but eventually, I’ll need to make a new one if this one continues taking abuse.
  • Tiller was bolted into a fixed position on the rudder stock. This means if I need to move the tiller from one side to the other, anything/anyone in the middle of the cockpit needs to move around the tiller. That’s just silly.

I set about fixing these issues, and have come up with a new design that seems to fix all these issues. Sadly, I didn’t do much in the way of documenting the design process. I knew I wanted to keep the rudder blade, so I cut open some brown paper grocery bags, and traced its shape out, I then proceeded to make parts templates for the new rudder stock to match up to the blade. Basically, a full scale paper model. I decided on a design that houses the rudder blade on port and starboard, with a”stop” built into the front.

The following pics are a work in progress: the tiller handle still needs to be urethaned, and the sides/stock pieces need at least a couple more coats. Also, because I document my screwups as well as my successes: You’ll notice a change to the rear of the handle, from the first pics to the later ones. I neglected to trim the tiller handle with a radial cut around the bolt. (It wouldn’t lift. I would be stuck down.

Initial test fit. Seems pretty good so far.

Initial test fit. Seems pretty good so far.

Other side. You can see the rows on the sides where the bolts will hold this together.

Other side. You can see the rows on the sides where the bolts will hold this together.

Overhead view. Still looking good.

Overhead view. Still looking good.

After making the radial cuts. No longer stuck in place.

After making the radial cuts. No longer stuck in place.

SEE?!

SEE?!

In hindsight, this should have been a GIF.

In hindsight, this should have been a GIF.

Tiller and rudder stock ready for the finish.

Tiller and rudder stock ready for the finish.

Interior view of the rudder blade matched with the stock.

Interior view of the rudder blade matched with the stock.

 

 

You can’t see it very well, but there’s a plastic spacer that covers the threads of the bolt in the last picture. That should protect the inside of the rudder bolt hole from wear. Additionally, I’m hoping it also acts as a bearing to keep the pivoting of the rudder blade from turning the bolt. I plan to put a padeye on the rear edge of the rudder blade that a line will be attached to to keep it in the upright position via a jam cleat on the top of the stock.

Getting closer… Ever closer.

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