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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So here is a pic of each side of my rudder. There are two big blisters that do leak water on the off season (I'm in MI and only in the water for 6 months). I am hoping some one can walk me through the repair procedure. From what I gather I want to put a hole by the blister and let as much water drain as possible, then grind out the cracks, then fill. But with what? epoxy, glass. I am not at all unfamiliar with the tools but am a newbie when it comes to fiberglass and blister repair.





Appreciate any help
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My other question was can I go this season like this and do repairs in the fall or would that not be a good idea.
 

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Drill a small hole in the base of the rudder at its lowest point. If water runs out there, you really need to overhaul the whole rudder before sailing again.
If not, and assuming nothing is loose, grind out the blisters, dry out, fill, paint and keep going for now.
Oh...and plug the hole you drilled!
 

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Not sure that is a 'blister' of the osmotic variety.

You may have a tang inside rusting and forcing the surface outwards. Rust expands.

Grind it open and investigate. I would do this at the end of the season in case it needs a rebuild.
 

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That's not a blister. You've got a wet rudder which is (unfortunately) very common. Draining the water and injecting some epoxy will make you feel better, but not fix the real issue. Water will continue to get in and corrode the internal metal structure. Only real way to fix it is to rebuild the rudder or replace it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Not sure that is a 'blister' of the osmotic variety.

You may have a tang inside rusting and forcing the surface outwards. Rust expands.

Grind it open and investigate. I would do this at the end of the season in case it needs a rebuild.
Do you mean just take off the skin or talking about the core itself? Also if I grind fill what do I fill with? Some type of epoxy or just fiberglass resin? How do I go about smoothing it out? Sorry for the basic questions but once I get past them I should be alright. I think I will paint and sail and dig into it in 7 or so months. Also, is it possible to do this without taking the rudder off?
 

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Do you mean just take off the skin or talking about the core itself? Also if I grind fill what do I fill with? Some type of epoxy or just fiberglass resin? How do I go about smoothing it out? Sorry for the basic questions but once I get past them I should be alright. I think I will paint and sail and dig into it in 7 or so months. Also, is it possible to do this without taking the rudder off?
Judging from the patern of the cracks it's freeze damage because you have water inside your rudder. What causes me to pause is that you have rust dripping out; bad stuff.

First, tap on the rudder with a hammer of some sort and listen to the sound it makes. Dull or sounds hollow? If it sounds different as you approach the crack/blow out this means that the fiberglass/laminate has separated from the guts. (foam/wood/plywood)
If it sound hollow your better off taking the rudder off and following the directions from the link i provided earlier..
If it sounds good across the whole rudder proceed with the following.

Sand down the surface to about 8" around the hole in all directions. (60 grit)
Grind out/down the section that has all the cracks. No need to go all the way thru; close will work(1/16).
Taper away from center. 12:1.
Go to a West Systems epoxy dealer and talk to them.
Using fiberglass and epoxy; epoxy gradually larger circles of fiberglass over the hole/big dent. Three layers at a time. Wash surface and sand between layups. 5 layers will probably get you close.
Once you feel that it's good and strong you can "fair" your rudder with epoxy and light weight fairing compound. Just like do auto body work on a car except your using epoxy. Coat, wash, sand then coat wash, sand.

I am by no means an expert!!
Talk to your West Systems dealer. It's not cheap for the epoxy, pumps, spreaders, mixing bowls........ But worth it.
I'm sure someone on here will correct me on the procedure's.

Read this; it will help.
Rudder repair

Now........ you will do all of this and it's a temporary repair! ... Next fall take your rudder off and either take it to a shop to have it repaired (which judging from the rust stains you may wish to do) or attempt to split and repair yourself.

Hope this helps
 

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I think I will paint and sail and dig into it in 7 or so months.
By the way.......

Your rudder is designed to work as one solid piece. If it is rusted inside, de-laminated it could be much structurally weaker. Meaning; you could have a catastrophic failure. Normally; i would think that you are safe considering where you sail. But, remember, if it breaks it will happen when it is under the largest amount of stress! 25 knot breeze and 8 foot waves on lake michagan. OUCH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Yea, I'm looking at my survey from last spring and it notes. the rudder and skeg show high levels of moisture and should be opened, inspected, and repaired if necessary. Damn. Does the rudder need to come off to do this????? I would think not although it would probably make it easier to work on but harder to do. Think I need to dig a big hole to get it off. And also what am I opening up? Does this mean just take off the skin? What is inside the rudder? Is this doable for a handy man but new to boats? How much should I expect this to cost me? I would be really nervous with messing with the bottom of my boat ie the skeg. Can anyone shed some light on the makings and design of a skeg (tartan 30)? Thanks for all the help so far and hopefully alot more to come. Also I think you are spot on bene. I was told by another tartan 30 owner that the rust comming from the pintle area is probably from the weld inside the rudder? What is it that will actually fail. the weld from the mandle to the post?? or the mandle itself breaking due to rust? Why is it iron in the first place?
 

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now with rudders ill take the safe route and not be frugal by any means, a boat or particularily a sailboat withot a rudder is dangerous...and very hard to stabilize.

take it off and reweld whatever needs to be rewelded, new bushings up top and basically strip it, prep it and paint it back up with whatever needs to be replaced

just my 2c
 

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The OP is on a lake. So the worst thing that happens, no matter how big the lake is, is that eventually the rudder fails and they drift rudderless until they run ashore. No big deal.

Ah, seriously? There are plenty of threads online about rudder failure. No one has any easy way to evaluate the rudder without taking it apart, at which point you're in for a lot of personal time fixing it, or a lot of expense, or both.

Depending on your threshold for adventure and surprises under the boat...you might want to read those threads, roll up your sleeves, and plan on repairing or replacing the rudder before launch. Start now and you may only lose a month of sailing season.
 

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Yea, I'm looking at my survey from last spring and it notes. the rudder and skeg show high levels of moisture and should be opened, inspected, and repaired if necessary. Damn. Does the rudder need to come off to do this????? I would think not although it would probably make it easier to work on but harder to do. Think I need to dig a big hole to get it off. And also what am I opening up? Does this mean just take off the skin? What is inside the rudder? Is this doable for a handy man but new to boats? How much should I expect this to cost me? I would be really nervous with messing with the bottom of my boat ie the skeg. Can anyone shed some light on the makings and design of a skeg (tartan 30)? Thanks for all the help so far and hopefully alot more to come. Also I think you are spot on bene. I was told by another tartan 30 owner that the rust comming from the pintle area is probably from the weld inside the rudder? What is it that will actually fail. the weld from the mandle to the post?? or the mandle itself breaking due to rust? Why is it iron in the first place?
To repair; your rudder must be off so it can be laid horizontal. Given what i'm looking at i would open it up. OR; you can take it someone that knows something about rudder repair. I don't know enough about Tartan's , but, i would venture that it has a foam core. Your looking at $1800 for someone else to do it (guessing).
You can easily do this yourself. I would expect around $250 in materials to do your self. (if not more). I haven't done mine yet but everyone tells me that it's not hard. Nothing on a boat is hard; it's just a matter of wanting to do it.

You should call Tartan to see how your rudder was built. Iron? unless the whole thing was cast as one piece, unlikely

Honestly, you could probably get by this season till next fall. Do you have tow insurance? BoatUS? Have a contingency plan; something you should have anyway.

I'm right there with ya. Just finished my repairs today; ripping mine out in the fall.
 

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Does the rudder need to come off to do this????? I would think not although it would probably make it easier to work on but harder to do. Think I need to dig a big hole to get it off. And also what am I opening up? Does this mean just take off the skin? What is inside the rudder? Is this doable for a handy man but new to boats?
If you haven't done so, read the link to West Products rudder repair guide in benesailor's link above. Tells you just about all you need to know.
 

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Also check out Boatworks Today on youtube. The guy is skinny with a pony tail who makes lots of boat repair videos. He seems pretty knowledgable and its nice to have a video to see how its done rather than just read about it.

I don't know what lake he sails on here in Michigan, but if its on of the Great Lakes, I can assure you it's just as dangerous to be rudderless here as any ocean, bay, or sea. The big difference being that when the boat sinks we have no sharks. :D
 
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