How hard would it be to drop the rudder out? You'll have to remove the steering cables and the quadrant, and pull off the gudgeon, but that seems easier than moving the engine. It's probably not a bad idea to pull the rudder out once a decade just to see what's going on with the quadrant, rudder bearings, and check the rudder stock for wear. I just did -- we had a rough time getting one of the quadrants off the shaft, but after that it was relatively easy. I have a spade rudder so no issue w/ a gudgeon. In all it took about six hours. You have two options for getting the stock clear of the lower bearing: pay for a round trip on the travellift, or dig a hole. I pulled my rudder out the day we lifted the boat for winter storage and we'll put the rudder back when it's lifted just before launching.
Re. your Max Prop -- I had enough hours on mine to warrant sending it back to PYI for reconditioning. They checked out the internal mechanicals, replaced what was worn, cleaned up the blade edges and rebalanced the blades, and then polished it to the point where it looks like a jewel. The bill came was around $300.
Another thought -- I had a mechanic aboard once and I told him the story of all we'd gone through the first time we'd replaced the cutlass bearing -- It cost a fortune because I didn't anticipate the need to pull the rudder when we hauled for the winter and the yard wouldn't let us dig a hole so we had two RTs with the travellift to get the rudder out and then back in --- Well, anyway, the mechanic told me he had a way to get the bearing out without removing the rudder. He said he used a series of short sections of steel pipe the OD and ID of which enabled the pipe to fit over the shaft and inside the stern tube. His process involved building up a series of these tubes around the shaft until he cleared the stern tube. He'd run the steel tubes into the stern tube so that the first one in is resting on the inboard end of the cutlass bearing and the last one clears the end of the shaft inside the boat. He then used a hydraulic ? -- not sure what you'd call it -- a set of two small hydraulic pistons rigged in such a way that the pistons, in contact either side of the steel pipes around the shaft, could press the cutlass bearing out of the boat (with the prop off, of course). I've not seen this procedure done, and don't know if it's in common use or if it's a procedure this mechanic invented, but he claimed it works. You might ask around with mechanics in your area to see if anyone has ever done it.
Last edited by billyruffn; 02-24-2008 at 04:09 PM.