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Old 10-15-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

My ''73 has a delamination spot on the rudder about the size of my hand. There was some water weeping out of the area and tapping the area gave a hollow sound. I plan to drill a couple of holes to see what the rudder''s core is. If it is solid glass (unlikely) I am tempted to first inject acetone in order to get rid of the moisture, and then inject some type of West epoxy. Assuming it is cored is it better to cut the top layers of glass with a dremel or something, or should I just start grinding? I figure on doing this now so that if the core can be dried it will have all winter.
If this seems like the wrong approach and some knowledgeable individual can help, I would appreciate it.
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Old 10-16-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

I would cut the hand sized piece of the shell right out with something like a Dremel tool. This will allow you to see what the core material is and what kind of shape it is in much better than drilling holes.
You can then repair it with some epoxy and glass for a smooth strong repair.
A rudder is no place for a mere cosmetic repair, it must be strong to withstand the stresses of steering and smooth to prevent turbulence.
If you go to West System''s website and email them your question you should get a prompt reply on how to procede from an expert (which I am not)
Good Luck.
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Old 10-16-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

I argee with AJS.

I had the same problem last fall. I drilled holes, bagged the rudder and let it dry all winter. I then filled the void with foam that comes in a can under pressure by inserting the tube from the can and fill in the void. Then I closed the holes with epoxy (It think).

Water weeped through the filled holes.

I then tried a series of other fast fixes as launch day got closer. Still more weeping.

Finally I did a quick patch job with resin. My boat is 30 yrs old and probably had water in the rudder for a long time.

I will do it right next spring!
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Old 10-16-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

Like Rob, I drilled holes and put my rudder next to the furnace to dry all winter. Then I poured epoxy into the holes again and again until the holes filled completely and remained full after the epoxy set up. I smoothed over the holes with Marine Tex. Then I coated the underwater surfaces with coal tar epoxy, to waterproof them, and then applied bottom paint. Now, I always remove the rudder and store it inside over the winter.
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Old 10-16-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

Grinding out an area the size of your hand should take about fifteen minutes. Filling it, ''glassing it over and fairing it back, about two days. If you inject it, you''ll be wondering about it every day until you pull it again and find more delamination.
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Old 10-17-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

Thanks for the help from everyone. I did contact West Systems and they faxed me some info. Either injection or opening it up is considered OK, but it does seem to me that opening it up will give a more secure repair. West says to use a tool like a dremel and cut just slightly deeper than the fiberglass skin and then peel that off. When finished with the core, that skin gets glued back in place.

Also, it would seem to me that I would have to remove the rudder to use injection, where to open it up would be doable w/rudder on boat. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 10-18-2002
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Delaminated Rudder

A rudder should be considered an "easy" repair since it can be removed from the boat and taken indoors to a workshop. (esp outboard rudders on smaller boats).

In a workshop you can more easily remove all the rotted interior and dry the whole rudder out thoroughly. I have a friend that did this process two years ago. He removed all suspect material and then used West System (he is a big fan) to refill the affacted areas. He then rolled on an epoxy coatingr (again West System) over entire rudder prior to painting. Email me at and I can put you in contact with him for full details.

I also agree that injecting is less secure than removing the rot. I would inject epoxy in small problem areas on a deck or cockpit floor repair because it is a whole lot of work to remove rot in thise areas. For a rudder it is much easier to access and to repair properly.

This season I have removed my rudder for inspection and possible repair. Even if I find no rot I will likely coat teh entire rudder with epoxy anyway.

Best of luck

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