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Old 10-08-2012
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Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

OK, So I bought this Pearson Ensign about a month ago. I noticed that the rudder needed attention. Here's when I first picked up the boat:


This weekend I was able to spend a few hours with the boat and I got the rudder dropped out of her. It appears to be three pieces of mahogany with rods running through them to the brass rudder shaft.



There were strips of fiberglass glued to the joints of the wood. Then they were covered in a harder paint (white) and multiple coats of ablative plaint (blue).



Then I took my life into my own hands, and sanded all this junk off. It turned out pretty awesome actually.






So my question is; what's the best way to seal this thing and get it prepped for water?? Specific products?

I know the ensign class allows to wrap the rudder in fiberglass. Is that the best way? It seems like it'd be prone to getting water stuck inside the glass?

Thanks for the insight guys!
Danny
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Old 10-08-2012
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

Hm. I say West Systems expoy.
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Old 10-08-2012
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

Nice work. I would probably scrub it down with acetone or paint thinner. Then start brushing on penetrating epoxy. I have thinned epoxy with acetone to the consistency of water and kept putting it on till it started to build up. The epoxy will seal it, fill any voids and make it stronger. Remove the blush, then I would use fiberglass cloth with epoxy to encapsulate it.

There may be better ways but that is what I am familiar with and I would trust it for longevity.

Gene
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Old 10-08-2012
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene T View Post
Nice work. I would probably scrub it down with acetone or paint thinner. Then start brushing on penetrating epoxy. I have thinned epoxy with acetone to the consistency of water and kept putting it on till it started to build up. The epoxy will seal it, fill any voids and make it stronger. Remove the blush, then I would use fiberglass cloth with epoxy to encapsulate it.

There may be better ways but that is what I am familiar with and I would trust it for longevity.

Gene
Ooh, I didn't know you could thin epoxy?? So you mix the epoxy then thin it? What does it do to dry times?
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

It takes longer to set up, which is good. BUT: I tend to use what I have. I am sure there are better things to thin it with. And you can buy penetrating epoxy now. But I had great results with it. Had a floor on an old power boat with 3/4 inch plywood that was completely rotted out. It was in a corner out of the way and still had shape so I used the epoxy to soak it up. When done I could stand on it. Pretty impressive.

Gene
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

Nice sanding job! You are off to a great start.

I'd go with Gene's recommendation; definitely start off with washing the entire rudder down with acetone. However I would *not* thin epoxy - *ever*. I would either buy penetrating epoxy, or (my preference) get a slow-cure epoxy, gently warm it to reduce viscosity, and then paint it on. You will find that cool (winter) epoxy has the consistence of molasses, warm (midsummer) epoxy almost like water!

Thinning epoxy (e.g. with acetone) can significantly effect the properties of the material. I would not recommend it.

Other thoughts: You may find a 'modified twill' cloth will help wrap around the curves. Have a look at TAP Plastics. Don't lay up more than 3-4 layers at a time or it could (will) overheat and damage the layup. Because of the curves, you may want to consider alternating the wraps around the rudder (wrap one side overlapping ~ 4 inches; then turn over the whole rudder and wrap the other side....). You way want to tape a layer of plastic on to your work surface which the epoxy will not adhere to - your fiberglass supplier will carry this. The plastic sheeting is also useful to lay against the layup to give a smooth surface, and reduce the need for sanding. Finally - if you have not done this before - remember the less resin, the better. The cloth needs to be evenly wetted out, but not "floating" in epoxy. Use a plastic scraper to remove excess resin.

Personally - I know that this is a bit funky! - in high-abrasion or tension areas I have been known to sandwich a layer of Kevlar between the 'glass layers (I say between as you can't sand kevlar!) For example, I once repaired a transom which had been repaired at some time in the past, but had cracked open again. With a kevlar sandwich, that crack never reopened!

Finally - most importantly - enjoy! Fiberglass work is fun and a lot easier than it seems, Good luck!

Last edited by paul323; 10-08-2012 at 10:32 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 10-08-2012
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

Danny,
That is a very familiar sight. Several of the Ensigns down at Nyack Boat Club have rudders similar to that.

For starters I'd bet that the rudder post is bronze, not brass.

I have heard of people using either methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) or acetone to thin epoxy or polyester resin but I have no idea what doing this might do to the adhesive quality of the epoxy. I don't recall the West System use guides mentioning how to properly do this but you can check what they recommend (or not): WEST SYSTEM | Use Guides

I must admit that your sanded mahogany rudder looks beautiful. It would be a pity to have to put anti-fouling paint on it. I agree with the chorus that has spoken that epoxy is your best means of protecting the wood from water ingress. You can put on a few extra layers of cloth to make up for the material you sanded off. You might be surprised at how clear the epoxy/cloth mixture dries.

If you want to keep the rudder looking woody I'd go with several coats of a polyurathane coating over that. A thick coating of Poly will act as a protective layer to the epoxy in case of dings and nicks. Poly will have no anti-fouling properties so you will have to clean the rudder of growth periodically; especially if the boat is moored and in the water all the time.

Since the rudder will mostly be in the water where no one will see it I suppose that is why most Ensign owners seem to just use their favorite bottom paint on it, even if it is made with beautiful mahogany wood. There are other parts of mahogany bright work on an Ensign that you can make beautiful and shiny that are in the cockpit and small cabin. The rudder is way more functional than it is decorative.
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

Yeah, good link CalebD, that helped me find the page I was looking for about thinning epoxy: look at WEST SYSTEM - Projects - Thinning WEST SYSTEM epoxy.

Note when I say warm epoxy, I don;t mean hot - I mean 80-90 degrees max. Just summer time warm. Use small batches and slow curing epoxy - it'll work a treat. However, I would recommend layers of cloth - perhaps 4, depending on the cloth weight - otherwise a scratch would penetrate the epoxy and get into the wood, undermining all you have done. I know that mahogany is beautiful, but this is a rudder - underwater - and I would vote more for resilience than looks.
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Old 02-19-2013
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Re: Pearson Ensign rudder rebuild! Insight needed...

hey think you can post some dimensions on that rudder. i just picked up a electra with no rudder or hardwear. i need to build one from scratch
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Old 02-19-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russbugtussel View Post
hey think you can post some dimensions on that rudder. i just picked up a electra with no rudder or hardwear. i need to build one from scratch
Yes I can! I'm working out of town until tomorrow. I'll take some measurements and pictures when I get a minute Friday. I wonder if the Ensign class rules have dimensions?
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