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  #1  
Old 09-24-2012
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Rudder draining, repair, etc.

I hauled my boat out this past weekend for winter storage and noticed about an inch long crack (~1/8" wide) near the top of the rudder, very close to the rudder stock. I'm hoping the damage is only in the fiberglass skin.

I'm assuming I've got water in my rudder now and I'd like to drain it. I've read about and talked to a few people who have drilled small drain holes in the bottom of their rudders at the end of the season for draining water. The holes then get patched prior to re-launch in the spring. I'm thinking of doing the same, but I'm leary of drilling holes in my boat. Do you recommend it? How big of a hole and how many? Any worries about the drill bit damaging the internal lateral supports for the rudder?

I'm weighing the thought of drilling into my rudder against the thought of water in the rudder freezing over the winter and doing more damage. I'll obviously also have to do a closer inspection of the crack on the top of the rudder and at the very least grind and patch it with epoxy. Looks like my WestSytems fiberglass repair kit will finally have a use.
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Old 09-24-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

Very easy job to do. I did it last fall to drain my rudder after finding spider crack from the previous winter. I used a 3/16 drill bit and drilled a hole about 2" from the bottom of the rudder. I then used epoxy with filler to path the drill hole and cracks.
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Old 09-27-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

Here's taking the discussion a bit further. It seems on my boat that a previous owner allowed the boat to freeze with water trapped in the rudder. There are now a couple of fore and aft cracks about midway down the rudder's fibreglass skin. This season, I left well enough alone, and just sailed her - having drained the rudder over winter with a drilled hole. I thought that over this winter I'd like to take the rudder home, dry it out really well and then repair it.

Would a layer of judiciously applied chopped strand be the right repair? I thought I could get the best edge finish that way, as it is so pliable.
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Old 09-27-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

kwalt- we had a similar issue and found by tapping with a small hammer that there were areas on both sides of the rudder that sounded hollow. Drill your holes in these areas as well as at the lower end, sometimes water can be trapped and won't drain to the bottom. No need to worry about damaging anything inside, the skin is fairly thin and you'll be able to stop when it pops through to the foam. If you do find voids you can inject epoxy into a hole at the top of the void and fill it (cover the bottom hole with duct tape). We ended up taking the skin off one side of the rudder and replacing the foam entirely with closed cell then glassing it back together but you shouldn't have to do that. If there is room where the rudder post goes in to the top of the rudder dremel out a bit and run a bead of 5200 around the shaft, it's a tough place to seal and a likely area of water intrusion.
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Old 09-27-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

What John said! - Plus - Cracking "right near the rudder stock" might indicate corrosion of the stock itself, which can expand and crack the fiberglass. A friend's high-performance boat has an aluminum rudder stock - and he recently found really nasty corrosion just below the surface of the glass. Don't be afraid to do some exploratory surgery! Take your time and use quality epoxy/materials. Better to do some extra work now than to see your rudder drifting astern in the first blow next season!
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Old 09-28-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

Thanks for the great feedback!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BELLATRIX1965 View Post
Better to do some extra work now than to see your rudder drifting astern in the first blow next season!
Now that's a sobering image!
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Old 09-28-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ritchard View Post
Would a layer of judiciously applied chopped strand be the right repair? I thought I could get the best edge finish that way, as it is so pliable.
If you want to put a coat of glass on your rudder, I'd recommend 10 Oz. cloth rather than matte. It drapes beautifully and wets out with epoxy with no problems. Matte MUST be special epoxy compatible or it wont work - regular matte is bound with a styrene soluble binder and there is no styrene in epoxy.

Glass cloth will give you a very nice surface for finishing - better than matte in my experience and it will be dramatically stronger than matte as well.

If you do the cloth/epoxy covering, the only future entry point for water will be at the top of the blade where the stock protrudes. If you follow JRD's recommendation of putting a bead of sealant there, future problems will be as eliminated as it is possible to be.
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Old 09-28-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

I just ordered a new rudder from RudderCraft.com

it improved handaling , its solid material with a lifetime warrenty
1000.oo for shipping , tiller and perfomance model rudder (longer , wider) .
for my catalina 25
im real happy with it ..

I had to get a new one , my rudder had crackes , then on the third time i replaced
a pindle bolt for breaking I figured somethings up and should check it ..

well we were out that weekend sailing down wind on a windy day , I figure the bolt broke again then the ruder just broke apart at the pindle ..
we limped home safe , glad we werent far from home .

so my thought is , have a back up plan if it breaks
my origanal rudder had nothing solid were the bolts go through ..

Last edited by Sunday Driver; 09-28-2012 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 09-28-2012
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Re: Rudder draining, repair, etc.

If your rudder stock is pipe, you could drill a hole longitudinally though both walls. After plugging the forward hole, you can then withdraw water with a tube inserted down the post. No more drilling necessary.
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