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post #1 of 16 Old 04-25-2014 Thread Starter
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seeking rudder blister repair advice

So here is a pic of each side of my rudder. There are two big blisters that do leak water on the off season (I'm in MI and only in the water for 6 months). I am hoping some one can walk me through the repair procedure. From what I gather I want to put a hole by the blister and let as much water drain as possible, then grind out the cracks, then fill. But with what? epoxy, glass. I am not at all unfamiliar with the tools but am a newbie when it comes to fiberglass and blister repair.





Appreciate any help

Last edited by abrahamx; 04-25-2014 at 09:36 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-25-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

My other question was can I go this season like this and do repairs in the fall or would that not be a good idea.
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-26-2014
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

Drill a small hole in the base of the rudder at its lowest point. If water runs out there, you really need to overhaul the whole rudder before sailing again.
If not, and assuming nothing is loose, grind out the blisters, dry out, fill, paint and keep going for now.
Oh...and plug the hole you drilled!
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-26-2014
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

Working the same issue, kind of...
I'd say you need to do a serious repair job at the end of the season.

This may help

Rudder repair
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-26-2014
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

Not sure that is a 'blister' of the osmotic variety.

You may have a tang inside rusting and forcing the surface outwards. Rust expands.

Grind it open and investigate. I would do this at the end of the season in case it needs a rebuild.
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-27-2014
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

That's not a blister. You've got a wet rudder which is (unfortunately) very common. Draining the water and injecting some epoxy will make you feel better, but not fix the real issue. Water will continue to get in and corrode the internal metal structure. Only real way to fix it is to rebuild the rudder or replace it.
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-27-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

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Originally Posted by TQA View Post
Not sure that is a 'blister' of the osmotic variety.

You may have a tang inside rusting and forcing the surface outwards. Rust expands.

Grind it open and investigate. I would do this at the end of the season in case it needs a rebuild.
Do you mean just take off the skin or talking about the core itself? Also if I grind fill what do I fill with? Some type of epoxy or just fiberglass resin? How do I go about smoothing it out? Sorry for the basic questions but once I get past them I should be alright. I think I will paint and sail and dig into it in 7 or so months. Also, is it possible to do this without taking the rudder off?

Last edited by abrahamx; 04-27-2014 at 07:59 AM.
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-27-2014
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

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Do you mean just take off the skin or talking about the core itself? Also if I grind fill what do I fill with? Some type of epoxy or just fiberglass resin? How do I go about smoothing it out? Sorry for the basic questions but once I get past them I should be alright. I think I will paint and sail and dig into it in 7 or so months. Also, is it possible to do this without taking the rudder off?
Judging from the patern of the cracks it's freeze damage because you have water inside your rudder. What causes me to pause is that you have rust dripping out; bad stuff.

First, tap on the rudder with a hammer of some sort and listen to the sound it makes. Dull or sounds hollow? If it sounds different as you approach the crack/blow out this means that the fiberglass/laminate has separated from the guts. (foam/wood/plywood)
If it sound hollow your better off taking the rudder off and following the directions from the link i provided earlier..
If it sounds good across the whole rudder proceed with the following.

Sand down the surface to about 8" around the hole in all directions. (60 grit)
Grind out/down the section that has all the cracks. No need to go all the way thru; close will work(1/16).
Taper away from center. 12:1.
Go to a West Systems epoxy dealer and talk to them.
Using fiberglass and epoxy; epoxy gradually larger circles of fiberglass over the hole/big dent. Three layers at a time. Wash surface and sand between layups. 5 layers will probably get you close.
Once you feel that it's good and strong you can "fair" your rudder with epoxy and light weight fairing compound. Just like do auto body work on a car except your using epoxy. Coat, wash, sand then coat wash, sand.

I am by no means an expert!!
Talk to your West Systems dealer. It's not cheap for the epoxy, pumps, spreaders, mixing bowls........ But worth it.
I'm sure someone on here will correct me on the procedure's.

Read this; it will help.
Rudder repair

Now........ you will do all of this and it's a temporary repair! ... Next fall take your rudder off and either take it to a shop to have it repaired (which judging from the rust stains you may wish to do) or attempt to split and repair yourself.

Hope this helps
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-27-2014
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

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I think I will paint and sail and dig into it in 7 or so months.
By the way.......

Your rudder is designed to work as one solid piece. If it is rusted inside, de-laminated it could be much structurally weaker. Meaning; you could have a catastrophic failure. Normally; i would think that you are safe considering where you sail. But, remember, if it breaks it will happen when it is under the largest amount of stress! 25 knot breeze and 8 foot waves on lake michagan. OUCH.
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-27-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: seeking rudder blister repair advice

Yea, I'm looking at my survey from last spring and it notes. the rudder and skeg show high levels of moisture and should be opened, inspected, and repaired if necessary. Damn. Does the rudder need to come off to do this????? I would think not although it would probably make it easier to work on but harder to do. Think I need to dig a big hole to get it off. And also what am I opening up? Does this mean just take off the skin? What is inside the rudder? Is this doable for a handy man but new to boats? How much should I expect this to cost me? I would be really nervous with messing with the bottom of my boat ie the skeg. Can anyone shed some light on the makings and design of a skeg (tartan 30)? Thanks for all the help so far and hopefully alot more to come. Also I think you are spot on bene. I was told by another tartan 30 owner that the rust comming from the pintle area is probably from the weld inside the rudder? What is it that will actually fail. the weld from the mandle to the post?? or the mandle itself breaking due to rust? Why is it iron in the first place?

Last edited by abrahamx; 04-27-2014 at 12:18 PM.
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