Page published 23 August 2023

Go to Top Wednesday 23 August - Rudder Problems Identified

It was just after 15:30 and I got a call from Kathy. "Sorry, once again, to be the bearer of news that's not good", she said. This time Moonfleet had found issues with the rudder. I was soon on my way to the boatyard to see for myself what they had found!

The Rudder

This is a photograph I took last Friday after being told that the rudder assembly had been welded together...

The Propeller

... and here is what I found as I arrived at the boatyard.

What with other things going on over the last couple of days, I'd set aside that I'd asked Moonfleet to get on with replacing the Cutlass Bearing. I hadn't been expecting to get to the yard until the weather had gone a little more cloudy as then I could begin to apply the Gelcoat Restorer. I parked the car and took the photo seen here. It seemed to me that they'd made an excellent job of separating the bits that had been welded together. Indeed, I almost wondered if they hadn't been mistaken and it was just the rust under the anti-fouling, that looked like welds. After taking the photograph I made straight for their shed.

The Rudder and related bits removed from the boat

The rudder was laid out on a dustbin along with various bits and pieces.

Once inside I found Singing the Blues' rudder laid out before me, perched on top of a dustbin along with the bracket, now removed from the boat that supports the bottom of the rudder and a washer that had been found and was planned to be used as a pattern for the part they intended to fit. Apparently, the removal of the rudder bracket had gone a lot more easily than expected. In essence, their concern was the wear that they'd found both on the shaft at the bottom of the rudder and in the bracket in which it sits.

The plan, Phil explained, was to obtain a steel washer of the size of the pattern they had found, push that on the rudder shaft and weld it in place. Further weld material would restore the worn shaft to its original diameter. They'd then weld a second washer over the opening on the bracket, reducing that hole to the original diameter and, in doing so, produce a surface that would spread the load and so, hopefully, slow any future wear that would certainly see me out.

Kathy coughed and spluttered at the final remark, exclaiming "Customer relations! You can't say that", to Phil. I just smiled and responded that the folks at Buckden had pointed out that the rudder had lasted 45 years and there was enough metal left in it to last the same again.

The Anode

The gap under the anode can be clearly seen. It's only the bolt holding it on that has any electrical connection.

Talk of how long the rudder might last led on to a conversation about anodes. "It looks as it that one has been added on top of the paint", said Kathy adding, "That's a good way to save money on anodes, but it does rather destroy its point". Kathy clearly understood that one should maximise the metal to metal contact for the anode to perform its function. I took a closer look and found that on that side there wasn't even metal to paint contact. It anode was suspended well clear of the rudder surface by the bolt that held it there. At least, on the other side, there would have been direct contact between the metals, if the paint wasn't there. It seems I now have yet another reason to moan about Marlex Marine.

However, in the general scheme of things, this afternoon's call was not on the same scale as the fuel tank replacement. Yes, it will add extra cost, but a little unexpected sanding and welding shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. It's all part of life's rich boating tapestry.

Next read about Working towards the Launch.

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