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post #1 of 5 Old 06-04-2012 Thread Starter
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West System Rudder Bearings

I'd like to hear from anyone who has used the West System technique for creating rudder bearings. I'd read about this 25 or so years ago and was intrigued by it.

I'm considering using it on my 2007 Catalina 309. My wheel became difficult to turn, so I had the boat hauled and placed on her cradle. I removed the rudder. IN MY OPINION, the original installation was poorly done, resulting in early failure of the system. Nuff' said?

At this point I can order a new bearing set for $450.00, and wait about a month for delivery. The new bearings, like the originals, will have to be ground (modified) to accommodate the mis-alignment between the rudder tube and the top attachment (at the deck) of the rudder shaft. Forgive me if I don't go into detail.

If the West System is viable, it would in theory, eliminate the problems with the mis-alignment, and make the repair considerably easier.

Would like some input from anyone having experience with the technique on a boat of 30 feet or more.
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-05-2012
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Re: West System Rudder Bearings

Used the West System technique on the lower rudder bearing on my 1983 Hunter 37 cutter a couple of years ago. The lower bearing is essentially just a 12" long, 3"ID fibreglass rudder tube glassed into the hull with a gland and a length of hose clamped to the top. After almost 30 years, it was getting worn and sloppy. Dropped the rudder, cleaned up the ID, drilled 3 injection holes around the circumfrence of the tube, about 2/3 of the way up. Waxed up the rudder shaft, re-installed the rudder, sealed off the bottom of the rudder tube with modelling clay and injected the epoxy-graphite mixture. There were a couple of tense moments breaking the rudder loose after everything set up (use MANY coats of wax on the shaft!) but everything worked out well and the bearing is still perfect 2 or 3 years later. Verdict: works for me!
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post #3 of 5 Old 06-05-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: West System Rudder Bearings

Thanks for the input / sounds good!
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post #4 of 5 Old 06-05-2012
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Re: West System Rudder Bearings

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Used the West System technique on the lower rudder bearing on my 1983 Hunter 37 cutter a couple of years ago. The lower bearing is essentially just a 12" long, 3"ID fibreglass rudder tube glassed into the hull with a gland and a length of hose clamped to the top. After almost 30 years, it was getting worn and sloppy. Dropped the rudder, cleaned up the ID, drilled 3 injection holes around the circumfrence of the tube, about 2/3 of the way up. Waxed up the rudder shaft, re-installed the rudder, sealed off the bottom of the rudder tube with modelling clay and injected the epoxy-graphite mixture. There were a couple of tense moments breaking the rudder loose after everything set up (use MANY coats of wax on the shaft!) but everything worked out well and the bearing is still perfect 2 or 3 years later. Verdict: works for me!
I used a similar method on the rudder of the Cal 2-29 we used to own. Made the repair in the late 1980's to fix a wobbly rudder shaft and from what I understand, the fix is still good to go to the present (although we sold the boat in '02). Instead of wax I used a mold release agent on the rudder shaft once we had the rudder properly aligned (vertically) with the keel. To avoid overheating, I made our repair in 3 lifts, one near the bottom--when that kicked one in the middle--and when that kicked, one near the top of the shaft tube.

FWIW...

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post #5 of 5 Old 07-31-2012
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Re: West System Rudder Bearings

I am confused, because according to the West System instructions it seems like you are only supposed to make 3 3/4 inch dabs per hole, but from the posters here it seems like you guys are filling the entire shaft with epoxy mix. Is this correct?
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