Normal behavior for a rudder post? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-09-2009 Thread Starter
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Normal behavior for a rudder post?

I have a '75 Newport 28, which has the rudder under the cockpit and not hanging off the transom (skeg rudder?), and as I was working on it the other day I noticed that if I lifted straight up on the tiller I could lift its post right out of the fitting.

It dropped right back in without any ill effects, but I was wondering what the construction below was like. The manual says it has a stainless rudder post, so is that part attached below the cockpit, and the post on the tiller is removable for maintenance or cleaning?

My first immediate fear was that if I lifted the tiller all the way out the rudder would fall off, but upon sober reflection I figure that's not the case.

What kind of construction is down there, anyway? If I wanted to take the rudder off, how would that be accomplished?

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post #2 of 13 Old 11-09-2009
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It is highly unlikely that your ruddershaft is a two-piece assembly. If it were, the top would be pinned or bolted to the actual rudder shaft and not lift out. Usually, when you disconnect the rudderhead from the shaft, the rudder and shaft are free to slide down and out of the boat. Can you feel the weight of the rudder when you lift up the rudderhead and tiller?
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-10-2009
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- - Assuming you cannot feel the weight of the rudder when you lift the tiller, then you do have a two piece rudder assembly and the bolt or pin connecting the two has broken or is missing. You will have to get down below and look at what is underneath the deck.
- - Assuming you can feel the weight of the rudder as you lift - or - looking over the side at the actual rudder down in the water - you can see it travel up and down as somebody lifts on the tiller then you have a more serious problem. The top of the actual rudder should be fairly close to the surface of the hull. Again look down underneath the deck and see of there is a retention collar around the rudder shaft just above the shaft bearing/seal as the rudder enters the inside of the boat. Or that the collar that is part of the lower bearing/seal is missing its set screws or they are loose. This is allowing the rudder to drop down and raise up. The lower bearing should - using bolt(s) or set screws keep the actual rudder from moving up and down.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-10-2009 Thread Starter
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When I lift the tiller and post there is no weight on it beyond what I'd figure the post itself would be. I just had the boat out of the water recently and had a look at the rudder. It's firmly in place with no upwards wiggle at all.

Below the cockpit sole is a smooth fiberglass tube that extends from where the rudder post enters the boat up to the cockpit sole. There are no fittings or bolts, screws, etc. at all under there, just a blank white tube.

Here's a photo of my boat up on the hard. You can see the rudder clearly and tell that there's no room for it to lift at all even if it were loose.

I should have someone observe the rudder as I lift the tiller a bit and turn it to see if the rudder still turns. It's an interesting situation, but the tiller has never shown any tendency to lift even during the worst conditions I've faced so far.


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post #5 of 13 Old 11-10-2009
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I agree with osirissail. But I'd put more jackstands under her as I wouldn't trust only 4 in a blow.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-10-2009 Thread Starter
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Don't worry, she was only on those for a short while for painting. She's in the water right now, where she lives full-time.

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post #7 of 13 Old 11-10-2009
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My rudder does something similar. I have a keel hung rudder. There is a shoe on the trailing edge of the bottom of the keel. The rudder shaft, which is integral with the rudder, sits in this bronze shoe. The shaft goes up into the hull, through a GFRP "tube" and through the cockpit floor. I do not see a bearing or seal where the shaft enters the hull. It is possible to lift the entire rudder up by the tiller, and it will fall out of the shoe. Currently I am considering replacing the rudder bushings with delrin ones, and the shaft-tiller fitting with a new one.

Has anyone had this problem with a keel hung rudder?
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-10-2009
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There should be a collar, possibly just under the deck, that stops the post from being lifted up. Held in place with setscrews or similar. You shouldn't be able to lift the rudder out of its lower keel attached shoe.
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-10-2009
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Yes, there should be something keeping the rudder from falling out of the bottom of the boat. Some kind of retaining collar. If there is a solid fiberglass tube from the bottom of the hull all the way to the cockpit deck, then the retaining collar is underneath where your tiller is attached. But it is baffling why the tiller and the tiller to rudder post attachment is allowing you to lift the assembly.
- - I would strongly suggest going underwater and clamping two long pieces of slightly flexible beams/bars/flat stock together with the rudder between them. Then attach a wire cable or something strong to the frame holding the rudder. This is to prevent the rudder from falling completely out of the boat into the abyss below.
- - Next go ahead and lift off the tiller and its "whatever" that is currently moving vertically. See what is going on down inside that fiberglass tube. You just may have a cracked rudder stock either inside the tube or inside the rudder itself. In any case you need to be familiar with how your rudder assembly works and is retained/attached to the boat.
- - If the rudder shaft is cracked, then the lower part of the rudder will fall out of the bottom of the boat and the wire cable and clamp around it will allow you to recover the lower portion. Then you can take them ashore and get the whole thing fixed or a replacement made.
- - To reinstall use the same capture assembly to prevent accidental loss of the rudder. Then underwater insert the new/fixed rudder assembly back up the tube and assemble the top parts at the cockpit.
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-10-2009 Thread Starter
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I found this tantalizing item in a Google search:

"In addition to steering advantages, the tiller can either be lashed out of the way or even removed to free up space in the cockpit when not sailing." (italics mine)

I wonder if the "removed" means "lift out and remove"? It's not like the tiller pops right out of the post, you have to do a straight up lift with some force.

I should have checked this out while she was on the hard for a little while last month, but I didn't think of it then. Well, there's always next spring.

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