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I'm certain the rudder should go straight into the water directly below the shaft of the lower unit. I once bent the rudder stock so it was slightly askew going into the water. The bend came from the gears becoming un-meshed and the rudder turning 90 deg to the slip stream with the boat doing 7 plus knots. Over time the steady pressure of the water flowing past the rudder bent it about 5-6 degrees. Until I got it straightened I couldn't get it hold a course at all.
My Aries doesn't have hinge. The rudder is bolted to the shaft of the lower unit. You might be able to see in the photo below -- there's a "collar" that fits over the shaft of the lower unit and the rudder stock. You might be able to make out two nut heads on the collar. One bolt goes thru the shaft of the lower unit and the other thru the rudder stock. The collar is make of reasonably thin Alum. and should break away it the rudder were to be hit by something with enough force to break the Aries.
Obviously, this makes it more difficult to rig the rudder, but it's secure in that aside from the bolts coming off, there's no way the rudder becomes disconnected or misaligned. The inconvenience in rigging it is not an issue on long passages, but is enough of a hassle that I don't use the Aries when day sailing. I also avoid rigging the unit when it's not necessary because of the obstacle in the cockpit created by the lines to the wheel drum.
In spite of these issues, the Aries is a life-saver on long passages -- in most conditions it steers better than a helmsman, it makes no noise and consumes zero electrons.
Last edited by billyruffn; 08-23-2009 at 04:20 PM.