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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Early this fall I found out I had to replace my rudder. I considered doing it myself, but opted to hire the work out. Based on a reference from a major boat yard in Annapolis I hired a boat service company for the job. They ordered the rudder from Catalina, drilled the shaft as needed, and installed the rudder. The first time on the water I noticed a problem. While motoring or sailing the boat constantly pulls to starboard. If I let go of the wheel it spins over and the boat quickly turns. I reported the problem to the service company who got in contact with Catalina. Catalina is saying the problem can't be with the new rudder and is refusing to help in any way. The boat never did this before the rudder was replaced. Does anyone know what might be going on? Does anyone have a contact at Catalina? I can't believe they are completely unwilling to help. The only thing that has changed on the boat is the rudder and it never did this before. The situation is, to say the least, extremely frustrating.
 

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Seems like you are going to need an "expert" opinion, I'd involve a surveyor whose work I'm familiar with. After checking the problem in water he'll need you to do at least a "short haul" so he can check rudder geometry, prop location etc. I'd get my yard manager to take a look also, he's been in the business for 40 years and is a pretty good resource.
 

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Sounds like the rudder is misaligned. If the company you hired ordered the rudder and did the installation, you need to talk to them, not Catalina.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Perhaps I do need a surveyor and a lawyer.

The sleeve through the boat has not changed, so there is no way to misalign the rudder. There are no bearings on a Catalina 42, just a fiberglass sleeve that the rudder post slides into. If the rudder was not built symmetrically I guess you could consider it misaligned, but that would be Catalina's fault.
 

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Is it identical to the old rudder as far as you can 'see'?

If Catalina modifed/increased the balance area of the newer rudder the propwash might hit that in a way that tends to push the rudder out of line when you release the wheel.

If the shaft location vis-a-vis the blade is further aft than the original it might be as simple as that. While a slightly 'overbalanced' rudder is very light under sail, under power the propwash can really work on it that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Ron. The rudders look the same to me. The boat pulls to starboard under power and sail so it's not just a propwash effect. I guess the ultimate test would be to have another boat tow me so there is no propwash and no sail influence on the helm. I'm pretty sure I know what the results would be.
 

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Was the old rudder particularly stiff? Perhaps this is normal for that boat, but the bad rudder was so messed up it wouldn't turn freely. I don't know the boat, so I can't say, but it is an possible explanation.
I know a lot of boats that you cannot let go of the wheel under power, without them going all walkabout.
 

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...I guess the ultimate test would be to have another boat tow me so there is no propwash and no sail influence on the helm. I'm pretty sure I know what the results would be.
You don't need to get towed. Just motor up to hull speed and put the motor into neutral. Then see if the rudder responds in the same way while coasting.
 

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I had this problem until I replaced my rudder bearings. There was enough play in the old bearings that the prop wash would push the rudder out of alignment and the boat would go hard right. New bearings and now she steers straight.
 

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As others have said, start with a surveyor and a haul out.

In the meantime, we're all wondering what the problem could be.

You mentioned that you found out that you had to replace the original rudder. What problems were you having with it.

And as just a side-point, are you sure there are no bearings in a Catalina rudder post? I inspected the rudder post on my dock neighbor's Catalina 42, and it definitely had bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, a 1994 MK1 Catalina 42 has no rudder bearings. Newer boats have them.

Since my original post I've spoken to a surveyor who has seen this exact problem before. The solution is to have a new rudder made, but correctly this time - one that is symmetrical on both sides, as it should be.
 

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Yes, a 1994 MK1 Catalina 42 has no rudder bearings. Newer boats have them.

Since my original post I've spoken to a surveyor who has seen this exact problem before. The solution is to have a new rudder made, but correctly this time - one that is symmetrical on both sides, as it should be.
If the rudder was asymmetrical, why didn't the installer notice it before wasting his time and your lift money on it?
 

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Have friend with a Catalina 38 that did not steer straight when he bought it used. original owner said it was always that way. so the rudder was changed to a new rudder by Phil's Foils and the boat now steers straight.
 

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Perhaps I do need a surveyor and a lawyer.

The sleeve through the boat has not changed, so there is no way to misalign the rudder. There are no bearings on a Catalina 42, just a fiberglass sleeve that the rudder post slides into. If the rudder was not built symmetrically I guess you could consider it misaligned, but that would be Catalina's fault.
With all due respect, this sounds very strange.
Firstly, rudder bearings at small GRP boats is there not only to make movements smooth but also to take the load from the rudder. GRP in itself is actually rather soft, will not work as a bearing - no way. A simple form of rudder bearing is a bush bearing, often made of Delrin (also found in blocks and such) or today even better materials (Delrin bearings usually lasted ~ 10 years).
Usually in boats of this size there are two bearings, a lower and an upper, often about 3 ft apart. This is to handle the forces in two places, and to avoid too high torque in one point - again, GRP is not good at handling high stress.
These bearings are sometimes somewhat difficult to see without actually removing the rudder. When I had some issues with my rudder it took me some time before I really understood how it was designed and attached. I have had it down some few times, to get things really right.
I have seen your other comment about bearings, I guess you then refer to usual roller or ball bearings.

Secondly, when fitting a rudder shaft into sleeve / bearings / call-it-whatever it is essential that the measurements are very accurate, accuracy less than 0.1 mm. A new rudder, with a new rudder shaft is likely to need new bearings (sleeve or whatever). Without changing bearings, there will be too much play and the rudder will move to one or several unbalanced positions.
It may be so that you cannot detect any play in the rudder, which is possible while still having some play:
a) the rudder may be misaligned so the shaft is under some tension. Then one doesn't feel the play even if it is there.
b) somehow I got the impression you also have a steering wheel. That mechanism adds some extra friction which may shadow the play in the rudder.

What you have to do is to haul the boat, release the steering mechanism so the rudder is free of any attachment. Then you should be able to detect any form of play and misalignments.
Most likely you have to remove the rudder (think before doing this, it use to involve some work), and measure very carefully all diameters. check where the bearings are, and swap to new bearings (if you insist that there are no bearings, then you in any case have to build up new material on which the rudder rests - if GRP or epoxy is used you are likely to have repeat this very regularly).

I myself do not trust any yard to do work like this. Very often they do a fast job, do not have the time to consider design and construction, no time for exact measurements and no time at all to await to get new bearings made.

If you want to know more about rudders and rudder bearings then I recommend the Jefa homepage, probably Jefa rudder and steering systems.

/J
 
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