Reinforcing a tiller? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 04-26-2009
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Reinforcing a tiller?

My tiller is a typical laminate type, pretty old. It delaminated a bit last year, and over the winter I took it apart a bit, cleaned it up and epoxied it back together. However, I can see that the epoxy didn't hold up as well as I'd like on the very top layer, which is separating again.

So it's become obvious I need to order a replacement. What I'm wondering is if I could reinforce it in the meantime by drilling a couple of 1/4" holes down through the top and putting some stainless bolts through there to keep everything together. The bolts that hold the tiller in its bracket come in from the sides, parallel to the layers; I'm hoping that a perpendicular hold from two or three through bolts would give it enough strength to hold on for a while.

I don't see it as a permanent fix, but just something to tide me over for a week or so until the replacement arrives. The rest of the expoxy is holding well, it's just an 8" or so length of the very top layer that's come apart.

I sail the Chesapeake Bay only, up by the Patapsco River, so I'm not having to face 8' swells on the open ocean -- though I realize even the water I'm on can put out conditions to stress a rudder and tiller.

Opinions? Thanks!
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Old 04-26-2009
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Work some more glue into the split, and bolt it together. Probably last longer than you have the boat.
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Old 04-26-2009
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You could re-epoxy the layers and then laminate the end with a couple of layers of fiberglass cloth... I'm pretty sure it wouldn't delaminate at that point again. Drilling holes into it and putting bolts into it seems to me to be a bad idea, since that really won't add much strength, as the hole becomes a weak point.
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Old 04-26-2009
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I had the same problem. I first tried inserting a couple of hardwood dowels with Gorilla Glue to hold things together. Unfortunately, whatever was making the laminate fail wound up also rotting the dowels. I then thru bolted a big stainless bolt with large washers on either side. That did the trick. Ugly, but strong. I eventually wound up just replacing the tiller. I have had no problems with the new tiller, but I put that down to a new tiller cover that extends all the way to the back of the stock. The previous cover left the very end exposed.
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I had made a couple of tillers out of 1/4" strips and epoxied against a profile that I had made. The second one delaminated along the most curved part because I had too much clamp pressure and squeezed out too much epoxy. So what I did was take a small gouge and dig out small gouges in between the stips. I re-epoxied and it is holding up fine.
Stu
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Old 04-26-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu01 View Post
I had made a couple of tillers out of 1/4" strips and epoxied against a profile that I had made. The second one delaminated along the most curved part because I had too much clamp pressure and squeezed out too much epoxy. So what I did was take a small gouge and dig out small gouges in between the stips. I re-epoxied and it is holding up fine.
Stu
I'll bet that's what I did as well. I really put the clamps to the tiller when I re-epoxied it, and probably squeezed out the glue.

I'll try again and also go with a 1/4" stainless thru-bolt. When I get the new tiller I'll keep that one for an emergency.
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