Drilling a rudder - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 38 Old 01-22-2012 Thread Starter
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Drilling a rudder

I know this young whipper-snapper who every year drills a couple holes in the bottom of his rudder when the boat is hauled to make sure the rudder is not taking on water and if it is to let it out.

He then epoxy fills the holes of course.

I never heard of this before as part of routine maintenance but it sounds like a good idea especially if you add the results to your log.

No water good.
A little water, you try to find the ingress point and caulk it.
A lot of water and you need to plan on some serious repairs but maybe in a year or two because you caught it early.

What do you think?

PS.
This is Beneteau if that matters.
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post #2 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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Water in the rudder is a serious problem. It should not be there. If it has water, that means there is water inside when the boat is floating. Repair it as soon as possible.
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post #3 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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I know people who do this or even install a little drain in the bottom of the rudder for extra convenience. What is your rudder shaft made of? Do you know what the internal structure of the rudder is? Back in the 70s and 80s many good companies had rudders with stainless shafts and mild steel webs inside - the feeling was that water could not get in so mild steel was fine. I had a Niagara 35 that would weep rusty water at the top of the rudder by the spring because of freeze/thaw expansion I think. I took the rudder apart and replaced the webs - even after several years of this, it was not in bad shape, so it is something that deserves attention but it is not a panic - although I have heard of boats where the shaft turned at the rudder did not because the problem was ignored.

Heading back to Lake Ontario for this summer. Ainia is back in North America for the first time since 2010. Currently in Long Island Sound.
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post #4 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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David,

The concept seems sound; the process could be better.

For a one-time shot, drill drain then patch sounds good.

If it's going to be an annual thing, then installing a proper drain fitting would be something I'd consider. Depending on the size of the rudder, getting a garboard plug installed shouldn't be that big of a challenge.
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post #5 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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Stainless or not, any metal inside the rudder will rust. Water inside the rudder will also cause osmosis damage to the rudder.
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post #6 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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And worse crevice corrosion of the stainless.
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Living aboard in Victoria Harbour
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post #7 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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So...how often should we change the rudder out to keep it from falling off..?

"Might as well take 'er out...If anything is gonna happen...It's gonna happen out there..."
"Captin Ron"
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post #8 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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AFAIK the newer bigger Bendy's have carbon-fiber rudder shafts and composite rudders--no metal armature, no stianless post, specifically because any rudder with a stainless post and a metal armature is simply a failure waiting for the right time to happen.

Apparently you can't bond and seal the stainless post to the grp rudder in any real long-term way. So normal thermal contractions, water pressure, a gentle bump, anything can open a hairline and then water will seep in and over the next 5-20 years it will rust out the armature, decay the foam, and cause a rudder loss.

Draining the water every year is like letting puss out of a wound--but not treating the infection itself. A stock rudder (cf or ss post) for a 35-40' OAL boat can run a fast six grand from the maker, delivered or not. And that'll fix it for another ten or 20 years.

A proper repair if there's water in the rudder? If you've got the skills, split it open, rebuild it, seal it back up. Very few shops fabricate rudders. Very few want to repair them. I give Bendy great credit for trying to use carbon fiber in order to avoid the stainless problem.
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post #9 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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That depends ...

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Originally Posted by Squidd View Post
So...how often should we change the rudder out to keep it from falling off..?
There are so many factors that affect it that I can't imagine you could ever say the rudder should be replaced/rebuilt every xx years. If you are not getting the rusty water at the top that is a good thing. If you drill a hole at the bottom of the rudder and it is dry that is an even better thing. If you rudder seems dry it is a good idea to replace the goop where the rudder shaft meets the fiberglas shell. You may have access to do this when the boat is on the hard. Worse case you may have to drop the rudder a number of inches and that is not a big job.

Heading back to Lake Ontario for this summer. Ainia is back in North America for the first time since 2010. Currently in Long Island Sound.
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post #10 of 38 Old 01-22-2012
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It was a semi rhetorical/semi sarcastic question....

The way this thread is going it just drives the paranoia scale off the meter...

Don't drill holes in your rudder, that's a bad thing...but if you do and find water (which you probably will) that's a bad thing...how much water is too much, it's all a bad thing...don't matter if it's steel, stainless steel or unobtanium it's all gonna rust and crack off and thats a bad thing...only way to repair it is total disection, reassembly and recovering, and thats a bad thing (project)....sailing around with a rudder that no one can tell you when it's gonna fall off unless you totally disect it...bad thing...and if you don't do anything , it'll freeze and crack and fall off...and that would be a bad thing too..!!

So might as well bite the bullet and replace it every couple years to be safe and that's a bad thing too $$$

Stuff like this can drive a guy to take up Golf...and that would be a bad thing...(if you ever saw me "play")

"Might as well take 'er out...If anything is gonna happen...It's gonna happen out there..."
"Captin Ron"

Last edited by Squidd; 01-23-2012 at 09:04 AM. Reason: forgot about the freezing
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