SailNet Community banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my deepest fears has come to fruition. :(

Friday while surveying the boat; i noticed a top to bottom hairline crack (10" long)in the upper 1/3 of my rudder. I also see some very small ones at the bottom of the rudder about 3 "'s up. The rudder is covered in soft abalative. In addition; it appears there has been some very minor weeping(very small). We've had some very long periods of cold this winter and i'm thinking it's some freeze damage (most likely).

I'm thinking the rudder is structurally fine. How should I approach this?

Should i grind down these sections and re-glass them? How far? Just to solid glass and bridge the crack? or, To the subsurface and glass to the foam? Use epoxy?

Is there a way to install a drain plug(s) in a most likely foam filled rudder; that will work?

I noticed while walking around the yard that this appears to be a common problem. Some rudders actually look broke with huge cracks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,073 Posts
Ben,

I'd take off the paint at the cracks to get a good look at the damage. If the glass is cracked, I'd reglass and fair as required. If the foam is waterlogged, a series of holes along the bottom should let most of it drain but be sure to seal up afterwards. Don Casey has published some good books on sailboat repair. I bought a couple off Ebay pretty cheap. These could give you some real good idea.



Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Don, Thanks
I'm sure it is most likely cracked. How would i check for waterlogged rudder? IR gun? When i rap on the rudder it sounds almost hollow. Maybe it is.

If i drill holes in the rudder to drain it, that's fine. Then i will have to do the same thing next year and the next year and so on. I find it hard to believe that i will be able to keep water out. Can rudders be that waterproof?
Normally it wouldn't be an issue in a southern boat; but, once that water freezes it's all over.

So.... what's a permanant solution to this. Drill holes every fall? Install some type of drain plug?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25,129 Posts
bene, you've got a bad thing and I'm afraid you know it. Saying "I'm thinking the rudder is structurally fine." is just wishful thinking. Right?

If cracking wasn't there when you hauled, but is after a deep freeze, the rudder has water penetration enough to expand and crack the rudder. That can also mean the internal webbing is corroding. Most like means, actually.

I'm real sorry to hear of the problem, but I would not go offshore with that rudder. If never far from help, I may try to patch it up, but there is no good way to fix this. Draining won't stop the corrosion now.

But for the grace of god, we could all have this problem. No rudder is immune, as they all have penetrations for posts and/or hinges.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,553 Posts
My boat had cracks in the rudder, and I ground the glass back in the affected areas to expose the foam, in my case the water penetration was localized to the affected areas. I ended up grinding the whole rudder back to bare glass and wrapping the rudder with fresh layers of glass. I was actually able to improve the shape at the same time.

I wouldn't go ringing alarm bells and condemning the rudder as unsafe until you have done some further investigating. It could very well just be cracked gelcoat. Even if water did get into it, that doesn't mean that catastrophic failure is going to happen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Minne, given the location i think it is ok. Yes, i understand your thought process on this. Better safe than sorry. This may be a consideration down the road; not sure if i'd like to foot the bill for a new rudder as of yet. They are still available as far as i know. I may consider a new one if i see this again or can't fix. Recommend factory or aftermarket?

Shockt, I think that i'm going to follow your example. I had a feeling this is the way that i needed to go. I'm hopeing it's localized. I have some some minor damage to the bottom front from going out the inlet in rough conditions (skipped off the bottom), that i planned on re-glassing anyway. This may be a cause for water penetration.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Miinie, I think your right, after some thought. Considering boats history; raced hard for several years off of florida and lack of maintenance (i know the previous owner) i believe i'm going to schedule a rudder replacement in the next several years. I'll just put money away in my budget. It's currently about $5500 with all the factory parts.
I will be in Lake Ontario for a while longer before i venture out so i feel i'll be relatively safe for now. I'll just grind out the glass for now and do some investigating. Got nothing to lose. But for my own sanity i'm sure i'll replace it before heading off shore. Just something not worth taking the risk on. Besides; if i sell it the new owner, they will be happy to see a new rudder; that's like a bathroom upgrade.

thanks guys
 

·
██▓▓▒▒░&
Joined
·
13,641 Posts
Ben-
The good news is that even if the rudder is waterlogged, it could go an easy 5-10 years without failing from that.
And, that Beneteau-US can probably ship you a replacement rudder in under a week.

I'm rashly guessing this is a conventional steel rudder post, not one of B's cf ones? CF would make any repairs simpler, since there's no steel-to-glass bond problem.

The bad news? Maybe five grand for the new rudder. And the only real alternative, exploring your rudder, can take weeks or months of work.

You start by drilling some convenient holes (1/4" or 1/2") near the bottom of the rudder. Water goes downhill, so the lowest hole probably will weep "puss" if the foam has corroded, just water if the damage is really recent. Then you work your way up and around, checkerboard style, if you want to explore the extent of the damage.

You could simply cut some larger holes, flush with some solvent (nothing that will dissolve the foam or glass!) like isopropanol to pull the water out, and then re-glass the exterior of the rudder, assuming it isn't also leaking in where the glass bonds to the rudder post--which is the usual way water starts to get in. Real repairs mean grinding down that area as well, and trying to rebond and reseal.

In theory any good glass shop can do that. In practice...First see if you can take hostages at Beneteau, and what they can offer if they still have new ones. Unless you really have some good options for rebuilding, and properly and precisely reshaping, the old one.
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
3,040 Posts
A conventional spade rudder rebuild in Ontario (stainless stock, foam filled) runs about $1800 CAN. It's almost routine in this neck of the woods where water expands 8% when frozen.

If it's one of the composite rudders, I would not trust a repair if there are any fractures in the upper 1/3 and would go for a new one. In the lower 2/3, skin repairs are adequate.

If the fractures are deeper than the gelcoat, get someone who knows what they are doing to look at it.
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
3,040 Posts
"rudder rebuild in Ontario "
From Phil &at fastcomposites? Or are there any other shops specializing in rudders these days?
It's such a common thing in this neck of the woods, I think I could rattle off about 20 names in the GTA alone that do this work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
boatpoker,
Do you have some names in the GTA or out near Kingston for this that you could recommend?
I don't know anybody i would trust on the south side of the lake. It wouldn't be that far of a drive. I would think rebuilders are used to it on the north side. $1800 sounds cheap if done right.

Are CF post rudders expensive? I hear they are stronger, or maybe they bounce back better rather than bend. Just curious.
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
3,040 Posts
in the GTA Peter Hager would be my first choice - reliable and inexpensive.
Sorry, not too familiar with any of the trades in Kingston

Peter Hager, Port Credit, 647-381-3454
Bristol Marine, Port Credit, 905-891-3777
Dockside Marine, Kim Anderson, Mobile 416-879-2612
LCF Fiberglass, Luis Ferreira, Mississauga, 905-464-0172
North Shore Boatworks, Oakville, 905-825-2628
Custom Yacht Builder, Whitby 905-668-1291
******* Custom Yachts, Bowmanville, 905-623-5261
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
3,040 Posts
Sorry incomplete answer .... I actually prefer the composite rudders although there were some failures in the early days (Hunter), I have not seen a failure for years. All the composites I have seen are hollow which I think is a good thing.

A fracture in the upper 1/3 of a spade with a composite stock I think could be compromised and be extremely difficult to detect so I think they should be scrapped at that point
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Minne, I plan on dropping it and driving it north as it is close.

Here's my thoughts though.

My boat is at the back of the yard; so it's buried. Plus all the snow. By the time the yard can get a lift on it will be a month; then another month(?) possibly getting the rudder done. I have a drop in date of May 8th. I don't see me doing more damage than all ready is done, so.......

Maybe it would be worth it to do a minor repair for this (spring) year. Sail all year and drop the rudder this fall. This way the rudder would have all winter to dry out and a repair shop could take their time.

Thoughts?

I'm going to sand down everything today and take a better look at it.
 

·
Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
Joined
·
4,525 Posts
I don't see any reason why you could not sail with it as is this year - then take the rudder off in the fall and do what needs to be done. I had problems with the rudder of my Niagara 35 a few years ago with rusty water seeping out around the shaft each year - apparently the problem is that the stainless shaft and fg rudder shell expand and contract at different rates and the sealant at the gap is not easily accessible for checking or replacing.

Eventually I dropped the rudder and rebuilt it over the winter. I split the shell with a small hand saw and pried the two shells off - carefully!. Took out all of the foam that was not sound and took the shaft and web out and to a metal shop. The boat was built with a stainless shaft and non-stainless web (apparently a common practice, Hinterhoeller was a good builder). Had the webs replaced with stainless then reassembled the whole thing, using f/g tape around the edges. Then I filled the gaps with West epoxy poured through holes into the gaps.

It was not hard, not expensive, a few hundred dollars, but time consuming. It really did not require high level skills, after all I did it, but did need considerable patience and care.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top