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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So Himself has been really working hard and has the v berth almost prepped; scraped, sanded and scrubbed down. He has been covered in paint chips alot recently. As a reward I packed a nice lunch and then while he was busy scraping and sanding his heart out I stowed all the work supplies and tools in the cabin, started up the motor and cast off. The plan was to call him above deck when we were out of the slip and into the main channel out of the marina. I was planning on sparing him the anxiety he was gonna have watching me take her out with out anyone at my elbow watching... he is SUCH a nervous nelly...

So it was beautiful, sunny and calm, perfect weather for practicing maneuvering
our new little hole in the water... Backed out so sweet and easy, put it in
forward and eased ahead. Shifted the tiller to bring us to starboard and head
straight up the marina channel. And I notice the tiller won't move past the
centerline. HUMMM. Shift it slightly back to starboard, moves fine, shift back
to centerline and can't move beyond it. Try shifting back to starboard and
discover it is now locked in line with the center of the boat and won't swing
either direction. What followed was a slightly hysterical deck dance as I
realized I had no rudder and was heading towards a neighbors boat. fast. or at
least it seemed in the moment to be very rapidly... Hit the reverse and slowed
up enough to back away from the other boat, calling calmly but with great
urgency for Himself to come up RIGHT ******* NOW please, which, bless his heart
he did, and like a good german soldier he followed instructions, took the
outboard in hand and ran it while I directed us close enough to the end of a
dock to make the jump from the deck to the dock with a line in hand.

After that it was relatively calm. I pulled the boat to a stop and kept it from
doing more than kissing the corner of the dock. Snubbed her off to a cleat, got
a line from himself off the bow, and walked her around and back home into our
slip...

well damn. that was not how I was planning on it going... so much for the
romantic lunch on the bay...

Since it was a warm day I climbed into the water and dove the hull, searching
for anything that would explain the sudden and unexpected lockup of the
rudder/tiller assembly. I found the expected yucky stuff on the hull, not too
bad since I had scrapped it with a brush prior to the start of our short little
trip. But nothing else fouled under the boat that would account for the
technical difficulties were were experiencing...

It made no discernible noise when it locked up, but the outboard was running so
only a really loud noise would have been heard. It gives no feed back as to
*where* the bind is since it has no movement at all.

We have already had occur to us the "rudder dropping straight to the bottom of
the marina floor when we unscrew a critical pin" scenario.

So, now is a good time to remind myself of all that good stuff like challenges
are just unexpected learning opportunities and the whole purpose of a hobby is
to have an unending and undoable number of tasks to work towards completing. and
don't get a boat if you are goal oriented and not into embracing the journey.

So now our journey has taken a turn towards the repair and maintenance of a
tiller/rudder assembly on a Cal 28.

HELP!!!!!!??????!!!!!!! : -O

Some helpful pics for seeing what I am referring to;




 

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Sara, I'm surprised you haven't received a response by now. I'm not familiar with the Cal 28 but by the pictures, it looks as though your rudder post is off center and possibly binding on the thru-hull. Could also be bearings and/or hinges at the skeg are worn and have allowed the rudder to bind against the skeg and/or the thru-hull, or a portion of the hull itself.


I know that's not much help.:( Surely someone with knowledge of your boat will chime in. Good luck. Sounds like you had a great idea for a wonderful picnic on the Bay.:eek:
 

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Hi Sara,

That was a nice idea to get out for a sail. Sorry it didn't turn out as expected.

No first hand knowledge of your Cal 28 on my part. But looking at the photos and schematics, it appears you have a semi-balanced spade rudder connected to the tiller via a rudder post that is encapsulated in a fibreglass tube.

The good news is that this arrangement is usually fairly robust. I don't see the skeg that saildork mentions (but he may have better info than me), so it shouldn't be a question of pintles or gudgeons (i.e., rudder hinges) getting bound up.

You said you dove under the boat for an inspection. Did you carefully inspect the gap between the top of the rudder and the underside of the hull? Sometimes tenacious growth, such as barnacles, or other debris can lodge in this gap and bind up the steering. If it's all free and clear, you should be able to pass a scraper through that slot easily.

Like I said, this is usually a fairly robust arrangement. But alignment is still important. If for some reason the top end of the rudder post tube has shifted (even moderately), it's possible the rudder itself is now misaligned and binding on the underside of the hull. This could result from an overly flexing cockpit sole.

But I think more likely, as Saildork suggested, it could be rudder bearings.

Some additional diagnostics are called for. Hopefully some of our maintenance mavens will chime in with suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi,

The rudder post is off center. If you look at the profile of the boat you can see that the rudder post is set at an angle fore to aft. Port to starboard it is in line with the keel of the boat.

When I inspected it I ran my finger along the edge of the rudder where it lays along the hull. I could not slide a finger thru there. I don't know if I could slide a scraper thru, but we have ALOT of scrapers so I can try that and see if there is that much clearance. What I was able to feel was the half inch or so of slippery bumpy jelly like stuff that grows on the hull, even though I had just brushed it. No hanging weeds, just pulpy stuff close to the hull. I can scrape that off with a fingernail, so I don't *think* it would bind up something as big and as robust as a rudder... or could it?
 

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... No hanging weeds, just pulpy stuff close to the hull. I can scrape that off with a fingernail, so I don't *think* it would bind up something as big and as robust as a rudder... or could it?
I doubt it. I was thinking more along the lines of solid material like heavy barnacles or other debris that could jam the rudder.

But if you go down again and can determine that the top of the rudder is contacting the bottom of the hull,that would certainly tell us something.


Hi,

The rudder post is off center. If you look at the profile of the boat you can see that the rudder post is set at an angle fore to aft. Port to starboard it is in line with the keel of the boat.
P.S. Just to avoid confusion, I would not describe the rudder post as off-center, which implies that it is not on the fore and aft centerline of the hull (off-center rudders do exist, but rarely). Instead what you have is an angled rudder posted where the stock is canted forward. This is not unusual.
 

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Sara,
I have a 1969 cal 34 with tiller steering which is out of the water for a major refit. I just removed the tiller and there are no bearings inside the shaft, although there is a grease nipple connection below the deck approx in the middle of the tube. Assuming you did not hit something that could have bent the rudder, I can only think that something is wedged between the top of th rudder and the underside of the boat. If it was caused by a build up of material inside the rudder tube, I think you would have felt the tiller gradually getting harder to move over time.
The only way you can safely take the tiller out while the boat is in the water would be to drag an old sail or net underneath the tiller before removing the cap on the rudder post.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I plan on putting cargo straps around the rudder in 2 places and then cleating them to each side. Word has it my rudder floats, so getting it to neutral bouyancy to reinstall may be the harder part.

I plan on checking for any sign of contact with the hull or rudder that would account for the jam, but frankly don't expect to find anything. Just doesn't add up with how the whole thing went down. If there is a bend in the rudder post then that's that and I'll at least know what the problem is.

Going to check for condition inside of tube and for anything that has been added into the tube to line it. relining or refacing the tube may be in order is there is a problem there.

spacers down at the bottom of the post to gap it from the hull that may have broken up and fallen off may also be a possibility but no one with my boat has been able to confirm or deny the likely presence of spacers.

Tommorrow is supposed to be warm and I will be going under to check it out then.

I really appreciate all the thought you all have given this!
 

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Sara, Help me out as I’m a little confused as to what is going on in this thread. So, the rudder is jammed- stuck in the hard over position in the first photo? The tiller cap is through bolted to the shaft? Have you unscrewed the cover ring on the cockpit floor to see what is underneath? I’d expect to see some sort of retaining clip/upper bearing there. Usually there is something to keep the rudder from falling out as well as holding the rudder shaft in alignment. The interior photo suggests there is something there as the tube flares out a bit where it is mated to the underside of the cockpit. If there isn’t anything wedged in between the rudder and the hull, then something must have fallen down from the upper bearing to jam the rudder. A bent rudder shaft is a more remote possibility as the shafts are usually pretty strong and you would feel the effects immediately after an “event”. An “event” would be something like a hit (you didn’t whack Anita Rock did you? Any whale collisions lately?- don’t laugh, it happen to a J105 out in the Gulf of the Farallones a couple of years ago). Or did your rudder go hard over when you were in reverse?

<O:p</O:pIf you think that you may have lost the “spacers’ between rudder and hull, you should be able to test for this by checking the play by pulling up on the rudder head. Spacers could be acting as a rudder bearing so you might not have a smooth surface to rotate the rudder on.

<O:p</O:pIf you are thinking you have a bent shaft or a chewed up bearing, this is really an out of water repair. The foam core part of the rudder may be less dense than water, but the metal skeletal structure and shaft are not so don’t be too surprised if it sinks when you drop it. There should be something you can tie a safety line to just in case. You don’t want a bent shaft as this is a pretty major repair most likely requiring you to be out of the water. A bad bearing is almost as bad. Think pure thoughts!

<O:p</O:pMy boat is over at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com
Marina</st1:placeName> <st1:placeName w:st="on">Village</st1:placeName> in <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1:pAlameda</ST1:p</st1:City>, where is yours located? If you want, perhaps I can see your problem in person. Be thankful that your problem happened close to your slip. We started to develop upper rudder bearing problems about 400NM off shore during the Pacific Cup last year. Mid-ocean rudder repairs are not easy (especially when you are racing!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
oh my god, you have no IDEA how grateful I am that it happened within jumping distance from the dock! Well, actually you all prolly do ; -)

We are across the bay it oyster cove, right at the foot of San Bruno Mt.

Despite deceptive camera angles, the tiller is not hard over. it is locked in a totally neutral position, as is the rudder below, lined up exactly along the keel line.

We had no *event*, no whales, logfish or other submerged obstacles collide with us that we are aware of. My initial inspection underwater ruled out any line or object being the cause of the jam.

Tomorrow I open her up and start poking around underneath as well. I expect to pull the rudder out of the water. I am not counting on the buoyancy keeping the rudder off the bottom, and will have it soundly bound up before I slip the tiller cap off and start monkeying around with that collar.

The little bit of speculative info I have on the mechanics of the rig (much of it courtesy of a guy who has a boat VERY similar to mine, but 12 foot longer ; -) is that the rudder is very simple, no bearings, maybe bushings. There has also been speculation that there might be a groove worn in the shaft and that this is causing the problem.

The spacer idea was from someone else who had one go on his boat and produce similar results to what I am experiencing. I have no idea if my rig actually had one or not.

weather is good today so tomorrow should be a good day for gettin wet! And all offers of assistance gladly accepted! I'll keep ya posted.

and man, my condolences on that trip last year, WHAT a drag....
 

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Sara, I’m encouraged that it would be highly improbable that you have a bent rudder shaft. I’m hoping that it is nothing more than a stuck bearing (remember that bushings are bearings too!). Try wiggling both the rudder head and the rudder itself when you dive. Any “play” at all would be a sign that a bushing is shot. Also pull up on the rudder head, if the upper bushing is shot, then the rudder could have dropped a quarter inch or so. With the heat wave this weekend, diving your boat might even be refreshing. Oyster/Sierra Point is on the wrong side of the Bay for me so you will be repairing unencumbered by any dockside supervision (at least from me!)

<O:p</O:pSteering gear problems at sea isn’t fun. Fortunately, we generally kept up our speed and missed finishing in first by only three hours. Heck, we never even took the spinnaker down. If you post pictures of your repairs, I’ll post mine. It turns out that the first place boat, a Wylie 38, also had rudder problems when their tiller delaminated and disintegrated. They wound up putting a hose clamp every two inches or so along the tiller to hold it together.
 

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does the rudder post have a zerk fitting for grease?? f so, when was it last geeased?? white lithium works well...might be an idea....and barkeepers friend will remove the rust from the stainless nicely with little if any effort.....just my 2 cents---the grease prolly isnt the reason for the freezing, but cannot hurt----
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
oh the flavour of humble pie...

I spent most of yesterday in the water. About a quarter of the hull is scraped bare, so I now have an excellent view of the rudder. I don't know if I am relieved or annoyed. It appears that early speculation was correct that I (or someone over the last month) have gotten the tiller katywhompus and it is locked 175° from where it should be.

the large side of the rudder is towards the bow and is locked up against the hull just a few degrees star b' of the keel line. The smaller side has over an inch gap from the hull at the stern end. There wasn't any evidence at all of any object striking it. It appears to just be jammed up against the hull.

my bad...

So, I cleared the area of growth. Did my best to scrape it out between the rudder and hull. Strapped it up as discussed earlier. Unscrewed the bolts on the tiller cap. and nada. That cap is so not just gonna come off. So much for the worry that the rudder would slide into the muddy morass of the marina floor.

I tried to get a grip on the rudder from below and wrench it free, but no dice. at one point in frustration I gave it a huge kick, but the effect of being under water rendered that into a slow motion comedy...

I am imagining taking two 12' lengths of lumber and sandwiching them on either side of the rudder and lashing them together and then lashing lines to the ends to make sort of a huge twisting lever and then applying pressure from both fore and aft in the appropriate directions to get the clockwise rotation I need to shake this baby loose.

Sigh.

Any other ideas?

Himself was a trooper and pulled me in and out of the water, handed me tools, jury rigged wrist lines after I had dropped 2 scrapers to the bottom, held the line attached to the weightbelt to support me while I was on the surface, held the breathing tube out of the water while I was under and trotted back and forth from one side to the other with endless patience.

He sorta lost it when the tiller cap wouldn't come off. A combination of weariness and lack of food contributed to his anxiety and for a while we had the "We are just going to wait until we pull it out of the water, because we don't know what the problem is and we might break something"/"Oh no we aren't, sailing season is almost upon us and we are taking this sucker out on the water if it kills us!" conversation. But I fed him and poured him a glass of vino and we took the dog for a walk and looked out over the bay in all it's glory and pretty soon it was " I really do want to go sailing, it would be so nice if we were out there right now" / "I know honey, and we will be. It's just a thang. We can get thru this."

I was pretty tired last night and today we have a swapmeet in Valleg
jo that we are going to with our shopping list of needs and wants. Hopefully we will find some of the stuff we need for the electrical...

So. There ya have it.
 

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oh the flavour of humble pie...

I spent most of yesterday in the water. About a quarter of the hull is scraped bare, so I now have an excellent view of the rudder. I don't know if I am relieved or annoyed. It appears that early speculation was correct that I (or someone over the last month) have gotten the tiller katywhompus and it is locked 175° from where it should be.

the large side of the rudder is towards the bow and is locked up against the hull just a few degrees star b' of the keel line. The smaller side has over an inch gap from the hull at the stern end. There wasn't any evidence at all of any object striking it. It appears to just be jammed up against the hull.
Sara,

Wow!! So what you seem to be saying is that the leading and trailing edges of the rudder are reversed!? I.e., the rudder has done a 180, but not the tiller?

It's hard to imagine how this could have happened. :confused:

Maybe if the tiller connection was loose on the rudder head, and you were backing down quickly, you could have torqued the rudder nearly all the way around, until it eventually jammed on the underside of the hull a few degrees off-center. Looking at the drawings, I wouldn't have thought there was enough gap between the underside of the hull and the top of the rudder for it to spin that far, but maybe the drawings do not reflect "as built".

Is there any way you could do a quick haul-out, just hang the boat in slings, and work on the rudder? This is the sort of problem that is difficult to address from underwater, especially without scuba gear, but might be quickly remedied with a haul-out. You might be back sailing even sooner.


Himself was a trooper and pulled me in and out of the water, handed me tools, jury rigged wrist lines after I had dropped 2 scrapers to the bottom, held the line attached to the weightbelt to support me while I was on the surface, held the breathing tube out of the water while I was under and trotted back and forth from one side to the other with endless patience.
I'd say YOU were the trooper!!:)
 

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I was reading an article where the rudder had the failed internal where the backbone spline had fatigued to the rudder post. This allowed the rudder to pivot on the rudder post without control. They had Foss make a replace rudder for them. I believe it was a stainless steel backbone and rudder post.
 

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Cal 28

Hi Sara, I have a Cal 28 like yours and can I feel your pain all the way down here. It sounds to me like maybe your rudder got jammed from the outboard being thrown in reverse hard. I have an outboard mounted in the lazarete on mine and if the rudder is turned at all from straight forward position while in reverse the water will grab it and slam it all the way to one side or the other. I cannot keep control of the boat while in reverse except for maybe using prop walk to my advantage. I don't have any expert answers for you but I am very interested to see how things pan out for you. She is a tough old boat, if you can just get it unstuck you might be back in business. Good Luck
 

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I was reading an article where the rudder had the failed internal where the backbone spline had fatigued to the rudder post. This allowed the rudder to pivot on the rudder post without control. They had Foss make a replace rudder for them. I believe it was a stainless steel backbone and rudder post.
You know, I think that theory is more plausible than the other scenario I suggested (most rudder heads are keyed to accept the tiller fitting, so it's hard for them to spin freely without being extremely loose.)

If the internal rudder post let go from the rudder backbone, not only could it spin freely but it also might be susceptible to being forced downward some, which would explain how it could have done a 180 despite the tight clearances.

Sara, this is yet more argument in favor of a quick haul out. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but you'll be able to diagnose much more easily with the boat hanging in the slings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Victory!

Ok, there was no bend in the rudder post, the tiller cap was not loose and allowing the rudder to slide around, there is no nipple on the tube it runs thru to add grease into, I have no idea (still) if it has bushings or bearings or not.

There are no marine services at my little marina to get her outta the water, and I would have had to tow for a ways to get where she could have come out.

Man, am I glad I didn't have to!

We tied her up tight to the dock from both sides, close on the port side. Then a nice beefy buff man who loves me lots climbed down into the water and got between the dock and the rudder and PUSHED that sucker back off the center where she was jammed.

There is something in there about ladies always behaving better for handsome men.... sheesh... He hardly had to touch it!

And as an extra bonus he tied up an aussie, I got my climbing rig on, my daughter took off the main cover, unwrapped all the mainsail lines and generally assisted while he pulled my ass up the mast twice so I could untangle the escaped main halyard and lubricate all the stuff at the top tip of the mast.

We are ship shape and ready to go!

Thank you all for all the good advice and encouragement. Without I would not have been able to figure out how I had messed up, and what needed to happen to recover from my goof.

I now have in BIG letters on the underside of the tiller;

'NOT THIS SIDE STUPID!'

So if it ever gets flipped and turned around I will recognize that fact before I go anywhere with her!
 

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Ahhhhhhhh -- the old "reversible tiller" trick!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

Glad it worked out and wasn't any one of the much worse possibilities we were envisioning. Clearly, those drawings do not reflect the "as built" rudder, which must have quite a bit more of a gap between it and the underside of the hull than depicted.

Phew!!

Now go sailing!:)
 
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