Monday, February 6, 2012

Rudder Time!

As you all know, Jenny and I are trying to finish our new boat on a very shoestring budget. As such, I've done nearly all of the work myself or with the help of friends. Generally, my friends bring the talent and knowledge, while I try to learn along the way. Nonetheless, there are only so many hours in a day and since I work full time I simply have to find ways to hang out with the family. The one big project I decided to contract out was the rudder. Below is a picture of the rudder as we found it originally, hanging limply behind Creeky, swinging in the breeze.

The Rudder: Before

You may have noticed there is a giant hole in our rudder. Henry, whom we purchased the boat from, had planned to put a trim tab style self-steering gear on. He cut the hole for the tab, but never got further than that. It's good that he didn't get any further because those systems turned out to be rather sub-par. The downside is that we now have a giant gap to fill

Jenny modeling with the rudder.

Luckily, I have a friend who worked at Inshore Boat Shop in Marion Massachusetts. He still has connections there and he offered to turn the rudder over to the boatyard and have those guys do it as a friend of a friend favor. Of course, this isn't free of charge, but at least it was a discount.

When we got it back from them it looked like this:

All patched up!

They did a fantastic job. After the rudder had lain exposed to the Rhode Island winters for 20 some years there was a lot of work to be done. The guys in the yard grinded away at the already gaping hole and made it bigger. That gave them access to the stainless crossbars. They re-welded the joints to give it renewed strength. Then they took 3/4" marine plywood, bolted numerous layers of it together, and soaked the whole block in epoxy. That created the filler piece to take up the space. Almost an entire sheet of plywood fit into there. They bolted the plywood to the crossbars and then they put a layer of closed cell foam on top of the ply. The foam was then used to sculpt the shape of the rudder.

It is hard to tell from those pictures, but after they got the shape right and glassed the hole shut, they put a couple layers of biaxial glass over the entire rudder for me. That strengthened everything up and made it into one cohesive and solid unit again. I'm very pleased. It was costly, but worth it. As a way to save a little bit of cash, they returned it to me in a rough state of finish, with the fiberglass completely unsanded.

This is only the first coat of the fairing putty. It's still pretty darn rough right here.

I managed to convince Constitution Marina to give me a small corner of their workshop to let me do the finish work. I used Quickfair fairing putty. 3 coats, and many hours of sanding. I also added a couple more layers of fiberglass to the bottom of the rudder--can't have too much strength there. I am thoroughly pleased with the end result. Yesterday I finally got to hang it in place on the boat.

The rudder hanging happily in place.

I'm still sorting out all the parts I need for the stuffing box at the top. I'm lacking a few nuts and bolts for the gudgeon/pintle at the bottom... None of that is a huge deal immediately, just some things that still have to be fixed. Nonetheless, the rudder itself is DONE. that is a huge step in the right direction.

The Rudder

In the meantime, all is well. Sorry about the lack of posts.... babies and boats, boats and babies.

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