Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Liberty Landing
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Play in the tiller/rudder
I have a 1981 Hunter 25 with an inboard spade rudder and tiller steering. When running downwind in heavy tiller loads, there is some play in the rudder. When pushing, it sort of silently clicks a little bit, and then when you pull the tiller it sort of clicks back. Not a huge amount of play, but enough to be noticeable and very annoying when steering downwind in the bigger stuff. There is no play in the tiller/post connection at all, this is happening somewhere underneath the tiller connection for sure.
This winter when I did a refit, I dropped the rudder about a foot to try and see what the problem was. I could not see a bottom bearing, though there could theoretically be one there, and there is no bearing at the top. The rudder shaft is simply a fiberglass tube that holds a thin plastic sleeve and inside that sleeve goes the steel rudder post itself, which is attached to the rudder at the bottom and the tiller at the top.
I tried holding the rudder and having someone turn the tiller, to see if I could replicate this play, but holding the rudder as hard as possible and turning the tiller as hard as possible, there was no play in the shaft/rudder blade connection (unless I just couldn't hold it hard enough).
Has anyone had a similar issue with an inboard tiller? Could there be a shot bearing at the base of the rudder post? (I am awaiting a response from hunter but am not holding my breath either). I am going to rebuild the rudder this winter (it has water intrusion) but I am planning a pretty significant cruise where I will be 5-15 miles offshore for a few days this september, and I am wondering how serious this rudder issue might be. I am planning on having some sort of emergency steering for the trip, but I really need to know what the odds are of needing it and if there is anything I can do to fix this problem in the meantime...