Updated 16 Sept 10 Dropping the Rudder, Filling in the Propeller Aperture, Fairing, Reinstalling the Rudder, Converting from Wheel to Tiller Steering, and Making a New Tiller and Deck Plate.
Dropping the rudder is neither overly complex nor simple. It requires a number of steps none of which, by themselves, is very hard. In this picture you can see the rudder attached at the bottom of the keel with a bronze shoe. The bronze shoe is attached with four bronze pins (approximately 3/8" diameter) that are "peened" in place. Over the shoe is a very think layer of Marine Tex epoxy (?) putty and polyester resin. Pressed into the shoe is a SS shaft, 1" in diameter, that is about 3 & 1/8" proud of the shoe. It slides up into a gudgeon in the bottom of the rudder. The rudder rotates on this pin.
Note, in the picture, the 1 & 3/8 diameter hole about a foot above the rudder shoe. It is over an inch deep. I "popped" that hole many years ago with the boat went into storage. It is hard now and will be grinded, filled, and glassed over during this refit. I have often wondered if this hole was caused by osmosis due to the integral holding tank in the aft bilge (just slightly forward of the hole) or is a "void" that occurred during the original hull lay-up as other CD owners have suggested on the Cape Dory Owners Association Web Site.
Where as I thoroughly prepared for what I anticipated to be the difficult removal of the bowsprit backing plate and was pleasantly surprised when it "popped" out, the removal of the diminutive rudder post steering quadrant key proved to be just the opposite.
The key is about 5" long and 3/8" square. It sits in a matching key-way slot on the rudder post. It is 3/16" deep, thus the key protrudes from the rudder post 3/16" of an inch. It had to come out because I need to be able to drop the rudder to repair a split in the bottom. With the key installed, the rudder post won't slide through its stuffing box.
I thought I would just have to tap on it and I would be able to pull it out. Not the case. After tapping lightly, hammering harder, heating with a soldering torch, spraying PB (liquid wrench), beating on it with a hammer and a 8" long 3/16" spike it would not budge. I clamped vice grips on it thinking I could gain some leverage and wiggle it out. All I did was burr up the edges of the key. So, I soaked it overnight in PB and sent an email to Gordon Reed, the yard manager at Robinhood Marine asking if he had any techniques he could suggest when faced with this kind of problem. He sent back a reply saying I was doing all the right things but what I needed to be able to do was get a screwdriver under one end and pry it up. The problem was the key-way slot matched the length and shape of the key exactly. I couldn't get anything under the end. After laying there and looking at it for a while I determined I would have to create a gap to allow me to drive/hammer a screwdriver under the edge of the key.
I decided to drill holes in one end of the key to create a gap. I started out with a 3/8" drill bit, which was a mistake. I center-punched the key to start the bit between the edges of the key. I naively thought that if I was off a small amount, the harder stainless steel rudderpost would guide the drill bit back to the center of the softer brass key way. It did not work as well as I wanted. The bit easily drove into the brass and quickly went to the bottom of the key. But, it chewed up the edges of the key way and even the surface of the rudder post in the bottom of the key-way slot. Additionally, the hole I drilled did not allow the right angel to hammer the screwdriver under the key. I switched to a smaller diameter bit --5/16"-- and drilled a series of 3-4 holes one right against the other. Then I hammered in the edges of the key in and was able to use the screwdriver to lift up the portion of the key that I had drilled the holes in. This allowed enough angle on the screwdriver to hammer it under the edge of the key and allowed me to pry it up and remove it.
I filed the edges of the key-way as smooth as I could. Because I won't be reinstalling the steering quadrant--I am converting to a tiller--there should be no adverse issue. Nonetheless, had I used a smaller bit from the beginning and not tried to pry it out after drilling only one hole, I probably could have removed it with out any damage. One last thing, the key way should have been installed with a liberal coating of anti seize compound before it was initially installed.
I used my Makita 8" variable speed grinder with a soft "stikit" pad and 40 grit paper to grind down the glass to expose the shoe. Previously, I reviewed Matt Cawthorne's web site (http://www.cawthorne.org/Rudder.html ) that provides an excellent account of his experience removing and repairing his rudder shoe/pintle/gudgeon. I also called and talked with him on the phone before I put the grinder to work.
In this picture you can clearly see the bronze shoe. You can also see the four bronze pins that were "peened." In fact, you can see the hammer blows from the ball peen hammer when the shoe was positioned previously (I suspect this was previously done when the bolt was built).
I only ground enough to expose the shoe on both sides. Then I drilled the heads off with a 1/4" drill bit and partially drove the pins out with a spike and hammer. I left them in to provide better support for the shoe while I dug the hole under the rudder that would allow me to drop the rudder far enough for the post to clear the hull.
After the initial grinding to determine the placement of the shoe and the partial driving out of the bronze pins I needed to dig a whole to allow the rudder to drop into so the rudder post would clear the hull. The hole is three feet deep, about a foot wide at the bottom, and about four feet long. The hole has to be dug at a 45 degree angle forward because the rudder will slide down and forward when it is dropped. I measured as accurately as I could, given the rudder post was mostly concealed in the hull (turns out the rudder post extends past the top of the rudder blade 39"). I dug it deeper just to make sure the rudder would come out cleanly on the first try. I did not want to remove the shoe, drop the rudder, and then find out the hole was not deep enough. It turned out the size of the hole was just right.
Pillow Block/Self Aligning Bearing
Before I cold drop the rudder I had to remove the pillow block.The pillow block is an Edson bronze self-aligning bearing attached to a steel beam that runs athwart-ship under the cockpit sole and secured on each end to fore and aft bulkheads.The pillow block supports the top of the rudder shaft.In the picture you can see the partially disassembled pillow block (the outer casing has been removed).You can see the inner casing to the self aligning bearing and the bearing itself. Below the pillow block is a SS stop collar whose purpose is to prevent the rudder post from rising up and allowing the rudder to unship from the pintle.The self aligning bearing is dirty and galled.It had not been maintained.All this bearing needed to keep going was to have the outer casing removed (probably twice a year) and greased.The bearing itself should be able to rotate on the shaft.Mine was frozen in place?as was the stop collar.It was also evident to me that the bearing had not been installed properly.When I removed the outer casing, the rudder post ?sprung? out about a ¼? indicating that it had been under pressure.That fact and the lack of grease caused too much friction which ate up the bearing.
Removing the bearing and stop collar was difficult.I tapped them, sprayed them with PB, heated them with a propane torch, and tapped them some more.Nothing.I called Gordon Reed, the Yard Manager at Robinhood, and always a wealth of helpful knowledge, to make sure I was not missing something.He said keep doing what you are doing and they should come off.I went back to the boat and repeated all the above.Nothing.I then rummaged through my tool box and found an old wheel puller.A friend held the top of the puller on the top end of the shaft and I held the arms on the edge of the bearing from below.He tightened the puller and the bearing came right off (maybe all the hammering, spraying, and heating helpedJ).Once the bearing was out, I was able to hammer the stop collar up and off the rudder shaft with a spike and hammer.
I blocked up the bottom of the rudder with a three foot long 6X6 so when the shoe came off the rudder would remain where in place till I was ready to lower it.Next, using a ¼” drill bit I drilled the heads off the peened bronze pins.I boogered up one when the drill got a little cockeyed but I think it will be fine.You can clearly see the hammer blows from the ball-peen hammer when it was originally installed.Then I hammered the pins out with a spike and hammer.After that I used a 4 ½ inch angle grinder to cut around the shoe on the bottom and the part sloping up to the right.I left the part sloping down to the left (the aft end) so it would serve to help me position the shoe when I reinstall it.Then, using the 8” VS grinder and 40 grit paper I ground the are forward of and below the shoe so the shoe would rotate down and forward.Since the pillow block was removed I was able to pull the bottom of the rudder and the shoe down and aft about three inches.It was not enough for the shoe to come off though.I ground some more and the shoe finally rotated down and forward and slid right off.After that, (with a friend helping) it was simple to lower the rudder into the hole far enough for the top of the shaft to drop clear of the hull and pull it up and out.I have not weighed the rudder yet but it is not light.I suspect it weights 150-200 pounds.
The Rudder Shoe
The pintle is 3 1/8 inches proud of the shoe. It is 1" diameter SS. It appears to be in good shape. Unlike Matt Cawthorne’s rudder shoe, my pintle remained attached (pressed into) to the bronze shoe.
To the right is another picture of the bronze rudder shoe with the new delrin bearing made by Bircher Machine Shop in Morehead City, NC. Jim Bircher is a sailor and thought the bearing would be a good idea. It believes it will prevent noise from a banging rudder at anchor as the rudder moves around on the pintle. The rudder still rests on the top of the pintle but the delrin bearing takes up some space around the bottom of the tapered hole. I will have to see how it works out.
Bronze Rudder Shoe with Delrin Bearing
The Rudder is 101 1/4" long. It is 36" wide at the bottom. The middle photo shows the gugdeon. The pintle slides into this hole. I have not yet examined it closely but the fit still seems to be pretty good. The bottom photo shows the crack running along the bottom of the rudder. I believe this crack was caused by water migrating into the rudder (probably at the top of the rudder were the rudder post enters the rudder). When the boat was hauled for the winter the water settled in the bottom of the rudder. When the temperature dropped below freezing the water froze and expanded cracking the rudder along the bottom. This should be a pretty straight forward repair . . . .
Cape Dory 36 Rudder
The Far Reach with her rudder removed. I'd like to see the rudder back on the boat in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see how long it takes.
The picture to the left depicts the work being done to prep the area for reinstalling the bronze rudder shoe. I still have more sanding to do and cleaning to do to remove all traces of the flexible compound that was underneath the shoe itself.
Before I dropped the rudder, I removed the pillow block. This block supports the upper end of the rudder post and is very important to the conversion of the steering from wheel to tiller becuase it will reduce side loads and torque to the rudder post by the tiller. As I mentioned earlier, the bearing was completely shot. It is galled and just plain ragged. In the picture, the pillow-block (Edson Self Aligning Bearing Model 629A) is disassembled into its three component parts. In the picture you can clearly see the damaged bearing and races. I don't know when this bearing was last lubricated. It is clear to me lubricating this should be a twice yearly event if the boat is sailed year round. Perhaps it need only be greased once per year if the boat is hauled during the winter. Maintenance should be pretty easy. I called Edson and they told me the bear itself should turn freely round the rudder post. Mine was frozen. I should have a new in the next couple of days . . . $170.00 not to mention the labor to get this thing off.
Next is a picture of the gap between the bearing and the steel beam to which it was bolted. When I took the bearing off I noticed that the flange on each end was bent. At first I thought it was bent as a result of some unintentional stress but the more I thought about it that seemed unlikely. It occurs to me that perhaps it was bent intentionally when it was installed to eliminate contact between the bronze bearing casing and the milder steel of the beam (if that is the case there are many better ways of doing it). Regardless, if you look closely you can see the gap between the bearing casing and the steel beam.
The last picture is the center of the steel beam itself. I think this kind of beam is called a "C" Box as that is the shape when you look at it end-on. Regardless, it has light rust all over and was scaling in the center which was directly under the bronze inspection port in the cockpit floor. The inspection port was installed over the top of the rudder post to allow an emergency tiller to be fitted should the wheel steering ever fail. I can't imagine steering with the emergency tiller that came with the boat--a short, angled, steel pipe that barely cleared the wheel. This is another one of the strange Cape Doryisims of mixing different types of metal together with no justifiable reason: Bronze chain-plates to mild steel backing plates; a bronze bob-stay fitting to stainless steel bolts to aluminum backing plate; a bronze pillow block bolted to a mild steel beam under an inspection port in the cockpit floor that will allow water to drip directly on to it.
What to do? The steel beam is not that rusted. So, I had it blasted in a special kind of rotating blasting box at a machine shop. They did not use sand and I don't remember what it was except I was glad I was not doing it and it was free. I plan to coat it with POR-15, then cover that in epoxy barrier-coat, then paint it, and reinstall it. For more on POR-15 go to this link.
Second coat of POR 15
So far the POR 15 looks pretty good. I ordered a "starter kit" which came with everything I needed for $20. Yesterday I soaked the beam in "Marine Clean" which is really just a dewaxer/degreaser. Then after making sure it was thoroughly dry, I coated it with "Metal Ready" which acid etches the steel. Then today I "painted" three coats of the POR 15. I used throw-away 1" foam bushes. Of note, I left some paint in the bottom of a small plastic cup when I was finished with the first coat. When I came by 30 minutes later, the paint had "melted" the bottom of the cup and had leaked out onto my work bench.
The picture to the left is after the 2nd coat. It looks pretty good. Tomorrow I will coat it with West Epoxy thickened with 407. Then I'll paint it with Rustoleum Marine Enamel. This is not overkill from my perspective as the steel pillow-block beam will be right below the tiller head and water will drip down on the beam. So the additional protection will be worth it.
Updated 15 Dec 09
It took a couple of days to apply all the coats necessary to satisfactorily cover the beam with epoxy. I started out with west epoxy thickened with 407 low density filler that I just brushed on. Then some thicker coats of 407 and each time sanded it as fair as I could make it.
When I was satisfied with the epoxy coating I applied two coats of white alkyd enamel. I think the steel beam looks pretty good. This should provide the highest degree of protection possible. There are a couple of minor imperfections in the final epoxy coating that I could not see till it was painted with the white paint. But it is a vast improvement compared to what I started with. "Perfection is the enemy of good enough."
Final coating of paint
The repair of the crack on the bottom of the rudder is pretty straight forward. First I sanded off all the bottom paint with my 5" DA Random Orbital Sander using 50 grit paper (there is more to do to the rudder than just repair the crack--fill in the aperture and general fairing to even out an uneven rudder). The more I use the Porter Cable DA RO sander the more I like it. Then I ground out the crack using both my 4 & 1/2" angle grinder and the 8" grinder with 40 grit paper. Once it was tapered the way I wanted it I used a pick to dig out broken and shredded foam that comprises the core of the rudder. Then I hauled the rudder into the wood shop and propped it up upside down so the crack would be horizontal. This thing is heavy. I put it on a bathroom scale and it read 128 lbs but it feels like 200 lbs. It is awkward as hell to move given that its also 8' long.
After wiping every thing down with acetone I poured in unthickened epoxy to soak down into any voids in the rudder. I left about 1/2" inch deep unfilled. After the epoxy kicked and was fairly hard to the touch I mixed up more epoxy thickened with 406 to near peanut butter thickness. Then I worked it into the void on top of the previously poured unthickened epoxy and I let it harden over night.
Today I taped over the bottom with three layers of 17 oz biaxial. First 4 inches wide, then three, and finally two inches. when possible, I wet out all three layers together and apply the wet cloth all at once. I smoothed the biaxial tape out with a plastic squeegee to eliminate any air bubbles and ensure the edges of the tape would hold down over the turn of the rudder. About 6 hours later I mixed up more epoxy and thickened it with 407 and trowled it on. The next step will be to sand and fair the repair area smooth.
In between working on the rudder repair I cut out and laminated up the plywood that will serve as the foundation for filling in the propeller aperture that is on the keel side of the cutout. Later in the week, when the rudder repair is complete, I will do the same for the "cut-out" on the rudder side. This will take some work to get a nice even fairing so that the water will flow smoothly and evenly over the area that once housed the propeller.
While sanding down the first layer of fairing compound on the repair to the crack in the rudder I noticed that the rudder may not be symmetrical--this can cause significant steering issues. The rudder must be symmetrical or it would have excessive weather or leeward helm on one tack. Very bad. It may be an illusion caused by the imperfections in the rudder repair since I have just started to fair the repair work. I'll scribe some lines from one side of the rudder tomorrow and check them on the opposite side. Overall the rudder is more wavy on one side than the other . . . but to be fair, it is a big rudder so I expect some inconsistencies. Additionally, I noticed that the trailing edge of the rudder is not tapered for maximum water flow and efficiency. Instead of being tapered down to a 1/4" - 1/8" squared edge, it's more of a 1/2" rounded trailing edge. The former is far more efficient. It may well be that a Cape Dory 36 is not a high performance cruiser but sailing is sailing. When it comes to sailing performance, we should avoid the seeming small concessions to speed which have a cumulative effect on the performance of the boat. This is part of the reason while so many folks think a heavy boat is a dog and a light boat is fast. Not true. Heavy boat can be very fast as long as we stay true to what we know makes for maximum efficiency. There is no reason to be less efficient just because you are not out to win silver. I'm not sure I can do a whole lot about this without significant work so I may let it go for now and keep pressing ahead. But at some point I'll fix this.
I also started glassing in the "plug" for the propeller aperture. This action seems to cause real grief for some folks. The befits for filling in the aperture are many and have been well documented going back to observations by Norman Skene in his book "Elements of Yacht Design" first written in 1904 and updated in 1927. Don Street made the same comments when he eliminated the aperture and engine on Iolaire. It's not for everyone. But, if you can get by without the aperture you stand to gain a lot of improvement in sailing performance. Hal Roth did the same thing on his 35' Spencer Whisper. He had a 10 HP Diesel. He kept the engine but filled in the aperture bringing the prop shaft out along side the rudder post and just above the top of the rudder. To that he added a two blade Martec folding prop and used that combination to sail around the world, documented in his book, "Always a Distant Anchorage." Many others have taken similar action. Accordingly, yesterday I laminated four 1/2" Douglas Fir marine grade plywood pieces together to form the plug that would serve as the foundation for filling in the aperture.
Today I glassed in the plug using west epoxy thickened with 406. I secured the plug in place while the epoxy cured with two ratchet straps. Over the next few days I'll add a few more tapered layers of plywood and epoxy and eventually biaxial cloth and fairing compound to create a smooth surface completely eliminating the old aperture. When I finish faring the repair to the rudder crack, and taking any action to correct any lack of symmetry between the rudder sides, I'll glass in a similar plug on the rudder side of the propeller aperture.
The rudder started to look better after sanding the third application of 407 thickened epoxy. There are only a few imperfections and they will clean up with only the smallest amount of thickened epoxy. I will leave it for now and add the epoxy when I use 407 on the aperture. That will save a little waste. I have sanded the rudder mostly with a long board and 80 grit paper. The rudder is not the way I would like--perfectly contoured and tapered to a 1/8"-1/4" squared edge--its the racer in me. But it will do for now. Next I'll start working on filling in the aperture in the rudder.
After getting most of the fairing completed on the rudder I set it aside for a few months. During the winter when it was to cold to do any glass work on the boat I worked on projects I could take into my heated wood shop. To the right is the rudder getting set up to seal the top of the rudder where the post enters. I think water was getting into the rudder at this point. This picture shows the rudder in profile and how the aperture is completely filled in. When I finish sealing this area I will set the rudder aside again then at some point rebarrier coat it, apply bottom paint to protect the epoxy from UV damage and install the rudder. This is planned for the spring/early summer.
Sealing the rudder post at the top of the rudder.
After the first laminations--the four layer "aperture plug"--had set and the epoxy hard, I fastened a separate plywood filler to each side that each had two layers of epoxy laminated plywood. Before I attached them I feathered them to match the general flair of the hull with my 8" grinder, a soft-pad and 40 grit stikit sand paper. When I was satisfied that they were about right I epoxyed and screwed them to the main pug. I filleted them in with the excess epoxy that squeezed out when I tightened the SS screws that served as clamps. These will be covered with cloth and thickened epoxy to get to the aperture flaired to a seamless and uniform contour. The side shot looks a little distorted--like the "feather pieces" are not set in correctly but its just an illusion. the photo taken from directly aft shows the contoured flair a little better. No doubt, to get it right will take a lot of epoxy.
The 2nd Layer of Plywood
The 2nd layer of plywood in the aperture
The trick on fairing in the aperture on the back of the keel is creating the groove the rudder fits into that was molded into the keel above and below the aperture when the hull was originally laid up. In other words, I want it to look like it is one seamless groove from the bottom of the rudder to the top of the rudder.
After thinking about this for the last few days I came up with two plans. Plan (1) is to use a 2" PVC pipe as a mold, that fits nicely into the the groove that exists above and below the aperture. With the plug now glassed in place I could cover the tube with plastic sheeting and strap it in place along the trailing edge of the plug then just trowel thickened epoxy up to the tube using the tube as a mold. However, epoxy, without the cloth that gives it strength, in such a vulnerable area, might just fracture if it took a big hit from something. Plan (2) is to cut two wood wedges and glass them to the back of the aperture plug and then cover them with more glass and fiberglass cloth and building a stronger more structural groove. Then fair that in with thickened epoxy. I decided on plan (2).
So, I cut two strips of Southern Bald Cypress about a 1/2" wide X 3/4 " thick and with a 30 degree angle on the inside edge. This essentially creates a slightly lower/smaller version of the tapers that comprise the two side of the groove above and below the aperture. Then I softened the edge and test fit them to the back of the aperture. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I glassed them in place with thickened epoxy. After that I laid the first two layers of 17 oz biaxial over the aperture, on each side, glassing them to the keel. Though it doesn't leap out in the photo, if you look carefully you can see the begining of the form that will serve as the base of the groove on the back of the rudder. After adding more thickened epoxy, I will cover the groove with fiberglass tape before final fairing.
Tomorrow I will begin adding more epoxy, thickened with 407, to fair in the plug and begin to fair in the groove on the back of the aperture. I should be interesteing to see how it comes out.
After that I laminated four layers of 1/2" Marine Grade Plywood that I will use to cut the plug that will be glassed into the other half of the aperture in the rudder.
Laminating the aperture plug for the rudder
Prepairing to fair in the groove
This picture shows the groove after I applied six layers of woving roving. I sanded it with some 80 grit to prepare if for fairing with 407 thickened epoxy. I think it looks pretty good. I also added some more biaxial cloth to the low spots on the side of the plug. Eventually, I will fair it all in with 407 thickend epoxy. If there is a faster way I don't know what it is. Fairing this much epoxy on a compound curve takes some practice. Patience, patience, patience.
The next two picture show the plug in place in the rudder and secured with epoxy thickened with 406. I had previously rounded over the leading edge of the plug and it came out pretty good but it will require a little more rounding to match the contour of the rest of the rudder's leading edge. I used the left over epoxy that "squished out" to fillet the edges where the plug fits up to the rudder. I made the plug by laminating four layers of 1/2" marine grade plywood that I clamped together overnight. Then I used a cardboard template of the aperture to trace out the pattern on the plywood. Finally, I cut it out with my saber saw and smoothed the profile up on a bench top belt/disk grinder.
Before I put the plug in place I ground a bevel on the rudder around the edge of the aperture that would allow the biaxial cloth, used to cover the wooden plug and give it the maximum bond to the rudder, to lie as flush as possible with the original surface of the rudder. After the cloth is applied, 2-3 layers of 17 oz biaxial, I will fair it all in then test fit the rudder to the back of the keel.
The pulg in place to begin fairing in the aperture in the rudder
After many layers of fairing compound and much sanding the rudder is ready just about finished. I still need to add a small amount of cloth and resin at the top of the rudder where the post exist the rudder. There is also some pitting in the rudder post about 3" above the top of the rudder. I believe this is immersion corrosion caused by that part of the post being in the rudder tube and sitting in stagnate salt water. Without a flow of oxygenated water running over and around the SS rudder post it will corrode. I will do some more research before I reinstall the rudder to see what is the best way to handle this corrosion.
Propeller aperture filled in.
The recess in the deadwood that allows the leading edge of the rudder to be "tucked in" to the back of the keel had to be created in the area that was plugged. I used a 2" diameter PVC pipe which fit perfectly into the upper and lower parts of the deadwood. After glassing in the strips of wood that I ripped at an angle it was just a matter of fairing and sanding till it matched the existing recess.
The aperture in the back of the keel is plugged, glassed, and the final fairing is complete. It took some work and a lot of sanding to get both sides symmetrical. You can see the areas on the hull where the through-hulls were. In this picture they have 1/4" epoxy plugs glassed in the hole and will get 5/16" thick patches both on the inside and the outside when the temperatures come back up. The one to the ouside and forward was the engine intake and the one to the left and aft is the starboard cockpit scupper through-hull. I will move that one to the outside a bit more to better position it relative to the space I need where the engine used to be.
Propeller aperture filled in and ready for barrier coat and bottom paint.
I am finally getting around to posting the pictures of the work I did on the top of the rudder during the last couple of days of February. After the work to fill in the aperture in the rudder last fall I set the rudder aside and went on to other projects. This winter when it was too cold to do any glass work on the boat and I had about sanded every thing I could think of I decided to haul the rudder into the heated wood shop and work on the top edge of the rudder where the post enters. Looking closely I could see what appeared to be a very tiny gap between the rudder and the entry point for the rudder post. It is possible that water gained entry into the guts of the rudder here.
Before I started this last phase of the rudder modification, I hauled to rudder up to Bircher's Machine Shop in Morehead City to have Jim Bircher look at the immersion corrosion on the back side of the post about three inches above the top of the rudder. It's a small area about 1/2" wide and 2" long vertically. He thought it was not too big a deal. His comment was that the rudder post had lasted for 20 years and the corrosion was pretty small. He told me I could have a new post machined, build a new rudder, and it could look the same in two years. He thought the rudder post would easily last another 10-12 years. This was all just an educated guess but it worked for me. I decided to keep pushing forward and use the rudder I have. I'll be able to keep an eye on it because I can see this spot with the rudder mounted. He did say one should avoid putting any anti-fouling paint on SS. Once deprived of the protective oxygen it can quickly corrode, which is probably what happened.
Back to applying the epoxy on the rudder. There was a couple of ways to attack this problem. I thought about taking a high-speed grinder and aggressively cutting back the fiberglass all around the rudder post. Then rebuild the whole area. But after thinking about it I decided "less-was-more." I realize this is a first for me but sometime you have to change your pattern to keep your adversaries off-guard. I decided to use my Dremel with a very small steel headed wedge bit about 1/8" wide so I could keep it from gouging the rudder post. More like surgical work vice destruction work. I very carefully ground the glass back about 3/16" wide and deep (see top photo to the right). I then roughly sanded the fiberglass with 40 grit paper back about two inches from where the post enters the rudder. Then I used a small epoxy brush to fill the crevice with unthickened epoxy. I let it start to tack up then I created a heavy fillet with 406 thickened epoxy completely around the post (see middle photo to right). Before the fillet was cured I cut a strip of 17oz biaxial about 1" wide and 4-5" long. After wetting it out I wrapped it around the the fillet for added strength to this area (I failed to get a picture of the biaxial tape). Before it was fully cured I covered it with 407 thickened epoxy and faired it as smooth as I could while it was still soft. I let it cure for a couple of days then I faired it smooth. The new faired top "should" fit easily inside the wide entry point for the rudder tube. The rest of the rudder only requires minor touch ups with 407 thickened epoxy before it is ready to barrier coat, apply bottom paint to provide UV protection, and reinstall. Installation will occur later this spring after I have competed the hull-deck joint.
The top of the rudder around the rudder post "dremeled" out.
406 thickened epoxy is applied and filleted around the post.
Biaxial tape over the fillet then faired with 407 thickened epoxy and ready to go.
While prepping the deck for priming I decided to go ahead and barrier coat the rudder. It would be a good chance to see how the Interlux 2000 would handle. I errected the rudder in the garage so I could barrier coat the hole thing at one time. No real issues. I was able to roll on four coats over about 6 hours. I'll apply the fifth coat to the rudder when I apply the fifth coat to the hull of the boat. I think it looks pretty good without the propeller aperture. It will be nice to see it on the boat since it has been in my wood shop since last fall.
Newly barrier coated rudder.
The top picture shows the gap that existed when I originally reinstalled the rudder about a week ago. It is a little hard to see because there is a pink construction string running along the gap that I rigged up to get a feel for how big the gap was and how much I would need to extend the trailing edge of the keel to eliminate the gap. The gap slowly increased from the bottom, where it was OK, to the top where I could stick my fingers through to the other side. This gap, though a little less obvious, existed before I took the rudder off the first time to fill in the aperture but I never noticed it till I went back and looked at photos I took of the boat last year. Of course the gap was not as big or noticeable but it was there nonetheless. I think this was because the rudder tube was installed about 1/2" to 3/4" too far aft. That is why the gap increased from the bottom to the top. Also, because there was a very large propeller aperture separating the back of the keel from the rudder, near the top end, the gap was not so obvious. Of course, I had to fill in and fair the aperture in the back of the keel and I may of left it a bit shallow but I could not know till I test fit it for the first time last week. To minimize turbulence around the leading edge of the rudder the gap had to be eliminated. A gap that big would definitely affect the slow speed (light air) handling of the Far Reach.
After thinking about numerous ways to eliminate the gap for several days the best option seem to be to extend the trailing edge of the keel. Every other option seemed to have too many second and third order consequences. So, chose the course of action that best focused on the problem. I built a jig and added multiple coatings of 406/407 thickened epoxy to extend the trailing edge. It was delicate work. After test fitting the rudder for the third time, and satisfied I would have at least 45 degrees of rudder arc on both side of a centered rudder, I wrapped all the work from one side to the other with 8oz tape which you can see in the middle picture. The purpose of the epoxy covered 8oz tape is to add strength to the new trailing edge and provide some protection. Then, this morning, after washing and scrubbing the epoxy to remove any amine blush, I shipped the rudder again and test fit it for the fourth time. It looked very good. You can see the difference in the bottom photo. After taking this picture I dropped the rudder again and added a strip of 2" wide 8oz tape down the side overlapping the tape I applied yesterday. After about 2 hours I brushed on some unthickend epoxy to fill the weave. Tomorrow, I'll fair in the tape work after I have sanded it and I am satisfied with the final fairing I will ship the rudder for the final time.
Finally I shipped for the last time. This morning I completed the last amine wash-down and sanding. Then we laid a 6x6 across the 3 1/2 foot deep hole with some wood wedges to hold the rudder in place. Next we slathered on some 406 thickened epoxy around the bottom of the sternpost where the bronze shoe fits, to fill some small voids and unevenness, and slipped the shoe on. We held the shoe firmly in place with a 4x4 run across the hole and topped off with some wood blocks and wedges. Then, to keep the holes clear for the 3/8" diameter silicon bronze pins, we pushed plastic straws through the holes in the shoe and keel. We let the epoxy cure for about 4 hours.
Next, it was time to "peen" the bronze pins. I had previously cut the bronze rod to length, about 1/4" proud on each side, and tapered one end with a metal file so they would more easily "find their way" though the opposite hole in the shoe when it was time to hammer them into place. Even though we had placed the straws in the holes we still had to redrill them very carefully with a 3/8" drill bit. Once that was completed we lightly tapped the pins into place. I had never "peened" a metal pin before but my neighbor Bruce has done all kind of manly things like this so he guided me along and held the facing hammer on the opposite side. I don't have a real facing hammer but we were able to substitute an 8 lb maul that I use to split wood. He held the facing hammer on one side and I hammered away with the ball-peen hammer on the other side. There was nothing to it. The key was just to get the head starting to flair then strike glancing blows along the edge to continue to "mushroom" and flair the head until it completely filled the chamfered hole in the bronze shoe. We went back and fourth from side to side a few times until we were satisfied we had a proper head on the both sides of the pins. The first one took about 10 minutes or so and the last one we did took about half that long.
Next I filled the hole that had been staring up at me since last fall. I have to admit I was sick of that hole. The pile of dirt was always in the way and there is nothing as demoralizing as constantly being reminded that there is a major task started but not completed. So, it was with great pleasure that I shoveled that pile of dirt into the 3 1/2' deep X 4' long hole. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the SRF and enjoying having a smug look on my face.
Tomorrow, I will start laying on the biaxial fabric and epoxy to repair what I had to grind off to remove the shoe and drop the rudder. Then I will spend a few days fairing in the repair work. While that is taking place I will start work on the floor beams in the cabin, complete the rudder installation by mounting the rudder stuffing box and self-aligning bearing, and begin work to install the tiller head and tiller.
The rudder is "shipped" for the last time.
I have to admit this is not the best looking glass work I have ever done. Nonetheless it is very strong. For some reason I round this a tough nut to crack. I think because it was so wavy after I ground down the keel to slide the bronze rudder shoe off. The first layer of 17.7 oz biaxial was the largest. Then another a bit smaller followed by another. Finally I had to cut small individual pieces to fill the low spots. The thinnest area has three layers of biaxial with the lowest spots have maybe seven to eight layers of biaxial. I added the next layer before the one below had cured so there is a complete "chemical" bond all the way through. This is the stronger kind of bond you can make with epoxy. Next, I'll start adding multiple layers of 407 thickened epoxy till the repair area is completely smooth and ready for barrier coat.
In the morning I spent about 30 minutes mixing up another batch of epoxy thickened with a combination of 406 and 407. Much more 407 is added though so that it will be easy to sand. This is about the thrid or fourth application of fairing compound. I got tangled up this afternoon getting the parts for the tiller assembly and failed to get a another coating on. That's fine. It will be cured in the morning and I'll wash the amine blush off and then sand and add what I hope to be about the final fairing layer. You can see some imperfections since this is not sanded. I'll fill it in though and it will be very smooth and fair by the time I am finished with it.
This afternoon I picked up the rudder post extension (9" SS 1 1/2" diameter shaft). I had keyways cut in both ends. A 3/8" keyway cut on the bottom end to fit the shaft coupling and a 1/4" key way on the top end to fit the bronze Edson tiller head.
I brought the new parts home and my neighbor, Bruce, helped me install them. The top picture shows the shaft sticking up through the cutout in the cockpit floor with the tiller head installed. It just clears the back of the cockpit. The next picture was taking from below where the engine used to be. Nothing is bolted in but it is all assembled to see how it fits together. From the bottom you can just see the top edge of the stuffing box for the rudder post. Then you can see the long key way that originally supported the quadrant for the wheel steering (Ironically I'll reinstall the quadrant but this time for the purpose of connecting the Cape Horn windvane control lines from the vane to the rudder via this quadrant). Above the quadrant keyway is the SS stop collar to keep the rudder from becoming "unshipped" should there be a hard grounding that impacts the rudder. Above that is the Edson self-aligning bearing (AKA pillow-block) that supports the upper end of the rudder post. This is a new bearing as the old one was galled and had become seized to the rudder post. I had to have the hole of the bearing ground out a little to freely rotate on the rudder post. It was too tight a fit. The old one was the same way and it was not right. Supporting the bearing and keeping it in place is the pillow-block support beam. This is mild steel (another one of those Cape Dory foibles) and was rusted when I took it out. I cleaned it up and painted it with POR-15 and it came out amazing. I have a post on the POR-15 under the Rudder Project section. Above the pillow-block you can just see the bottom of the 4" long Edson bronze rudder post coupling. It has a 3/8" key way cut in it and it joins the top 2" of the rudder post to the lower 2" of the rudder post extension (which is 9" long). The rudder post slide in one end and the extension in the other. Both the rudder post and the extension have a 3/8" key way in it matching the one in the coupling. The coupling has four bolts (on the back side that you can't see) that you tighten and it clamps the whole coupling down on the shafts. It seems like a pretty solid set up.
Tomorrow I'll position and secure the pillow-block support beam with four 3 1/2" long X 3/8" SS bolts. Then I'll build a cover plate and insert the custom epoxy rudder tube I made last winter to support the extension and keep water from getting into the boat from around the rudder post extension. I'll trim the tube to fit. Eventually I'll glass the epoxy tube to the cover plate and caulk and bolt it through the cockpit floor. Then only thing left on the project after that will be to build the tiller. I'll probably build it out of white oak and sapele or walnut or something like that.
Bronze Edson Tiller Head
The rudder install and tiller conversion is essentially complete. I still need to make the cover plate with the rudder tube and a tiller, but ,other than that, the hard part is finished. I spent the day adding some final fairing (I hope) compound to the glass repair work around the rudder shoe. I built backing blocks for the pillow bock support beam. I had to make them twice after I boogered up the first ones I made out of a piece of scrap white oak. They were a work of art but I drilled the holes in the wrong place. I was not happy. All I had left was some 5/4 Southern Cypress so I planned it down, cut to my pattern, and sanded them. They will get painted when I paint the lockers but that is a long way off--or I'll replace them with some marine grade plywood or hardwood later.
My 10 year old son helped me install the support beam. I ask him for help every so often when I think the task will hold his interest by being challenging enough but not take too long. You can't start'em too early learning to work with tools and their hands. He worked the ratchet down inside one of the lockers. We had to audible a couple of times and did a great job. It's also nice to get him trained to go down in those tight spaces so I have to always turn myself into a pretzel!
The self aligning bearing and pillow block beam were installed with some 3/8" X 2 1/2" long SS bolts, washer, and nylon locking nuts. It went fine except that when I was finished and I went down to the ground and rotated the rudder back and forth there was a clunking sound coming from the shaft area. I thought maybe I had a bent shaft and I have to admit my heart sank a little. But, I found I had not tightened down the bolts that hold the top part of the self-aligning bearing and I could actually see it hopping around as the shaft was turned. A couple of turns on the bolts and that problem went away thankfully.
The middle picture shows the components of the rudder post modifications much better than the pictures I posted yesterday. You can see the SS stop collar, then the self-aligning bearing bolted to the support beam, then above that you can see the coupling that joins the rudder post and the 9" extension. You can see some tuff-gel that I coated liberally on the ends of the shafts before I inserted them into the coupling. Tuff-gel is supposed to prevent galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals, allow them to come apart more easily, and prevent galling. No doubt, at some point this will have to come apart . . . but hopefully not anytime soon!
Wheel to tiller conversion complete.
Self aligning bearing and rudder shaft coupling.
Cypress backing block.
I decided to start work on the rudder post/tiller head cover plate. To the right is a mock-up I put together to see how the design will work. The mock-up uses 1/2" plywood and a tube of epoxy and biaxial I made last winter in the shop. I like the design. It is simple and not difficult to make. The final product will use 1/2" G-10 and the epoxy tube. After I cut the cover plate from the G-10 I'll radius the edge to soften it and router out a caulking groove on the bottom side. I'll counter sink some holes and use oval head bronze machine screws with washer and nuts to hold it in place. Then I'll set the plate in place and slide the tube over the shaft. Next, I'll fill the gap between the tube and the cover plate with a fillet of thickened epoxy and apply some epoxy tape to the bottom side of the cover plate/tube to make it plenty strong. After it is cured, I take it off and brush on unthickend epoxy to fill the weave on the tube and complete any final fairing required. The whole thing will be painted white.
The brown paper and green tape in no way reflect what will be the tape out line for the non-skid. It's just on there to provide some protection to the epoxy primer on the cockpit sole while I stomp around on the boat.
Mock-up of the rudder post cover plate.
To build the tiller I need to make a decision regarding the type of adhesive I will use. Resorcinol is the best glue there is, bar none. It is absolutely waterproof, can withstand tremendous heat and all kinds of solvents. It is even boil proof. But it leaves a dark purple glue line, does not gap fill, and has to be clamped for 24 hours above 70 degrees F. Aerodux 500 is a type of resorcinol but it is expensive ($200 for a half gallon). There several different kind for various working temps down to 45 degrees and it is mildly gap filling. Then there is Weldwood which is a urea formaldehyde plastic resin glue. It's two part--mix the powder with water. It is supposed to be very strong, can handle heat, has a long pot life, is amber in color, cleans up with water, and is not affected by solvents, oils, etc. It is not, however 100 percent waterproof so it should only be used on wood exposed to the elements that will be protected with varnish.
After talking with some adhesive tech reps and getting advice from some folks I trust I ordered Weldwood UF glue. I will use it to laminate my tiller and a test bowsprit. That way I will get some experience with it and get to practice making the bowsprit before I build the real one.
I began work on the tiller by building several templates/mock-ups for the tiller. I used some 1/4" plywood to build the mock-ups to get a feel for the shape and length. The picture to the right is one of three mock-ups. The tillers are all about 4'6" long. It seems a little long but better to have to cut it back then make it too short. I also needed to determine the correct height of the end of the tiller above the cockpit floor. The best height seems to be about 27-28". When I decide on the right shape, I will laminate the tiller out of tapered hardwood . . . probably white oak. The butt-end will be about 2" square and the end of the handle about 1 1/4" round. I'll glue it up with the Weldwood and go from there.
Mock up of the tiller
The next step was to build the jig for the tiller. It was a very simple and straight forward project.
The fourth tiller mock-up satisfied me. I went to Lowes and bought a 8' long 2X8. When I got home I placed the 2X8 on my assembly table. Then I laid the tiller mock up (cut from 1/4" plywood) on top of the 2X8. I traced the mockup top edge of the tiller mockup onto the 2X8 and then used my Bosch Jig Saw to cut along the line separating the 2X8 into two sections. I took the excess part (concave section) and flipped it over and screwed it to the "bottom edge" of the jig portion (convex section)(see photo). The beauty of this is there is now a lower curve (concave) on the jig parallel to the upper curve (convex) which will allow the top and bottom pads of the clamps to be in alignment. (I got this idea from the Pardey's book "The Cost Conscious Cruiser"). Then I took my block plane and smoothed the curved surface as smooth as possible. After that I used some scrap wood to make a stand to raise the jig up high enough for the knobs on my pipe clamps to clear the table the jig will be sitting on when I glue up the tiller.
Afterwards I brought a rough cut 8/4 X 10" X 10' long plank of white oak into the shop which I will mill tomorrow to build the tiller. The rest of the white oak will be used for the bow-sprit sampson post or bitts (I haven't decided which yet) and cleats for the interior furniture.
The next step was to laminated up the tiller. But it wasn't quite that simple. Yesterday, as I went through the steps of how I would actually perform the laminating it occurred to me that the laminating jig design I had build would not prevent the glued up strips of wood from sliding around during the clamping process. I was thinking how I would address it when Tim Lackey send me an email offering the same observation but with a couple of options on how to address it. Here is a link to how he laminates. I think his technique is brilliantly simply, much easier to build, and simpler to modify than mine. He was right that "vertical jigs" kind of set you up for difficulty because they don't prevent the strips from sliding around. He suggested making mine horizontal, which I did. The wood strips needed to be 2 3/8" wide and my jig is 1 1/2" wide so I would need to off set the jig to keep it centered in the middle of the wood strips.
To mill the strips I had jointed and planed an 8/4 piece of white oak. I ripped it into two pieces 1 7/8" thick X 2 3/8" wide X 66" long. The tiller would need to be at least 2" wide where it fits into the tiller head so I would have to rip the strips by standing the wood on edge. This would work better anyway since it is easer to bend the wood with the grain vice against it. To cut tapered strips I would need a tapering jig. I have always wanted to build a nice one so I would always have it on hand but I never think of it till I need it and then I am too focused on the project at hand to take the time to make one. This project was no different. So, I pulled together some scrap plywood and put together a simple jig. Since it was not "adjustable", i.e. with knobs, etc, I would have to move the tapering fence each time by unscrewing the platform (one sits on top of the other) and move the tapering fence over. It sounds complicated but by using a couple of precut spacer blocks (one for the 1/4" handle end and another for the 1/2" butt end) it was pretty simple. The actually cutting took about 30 minutes. The only complication was that I had to spend a lot of time sorting out why I was burning the oak. After the first cut (when I started the milling process yesterday) I spend several hours sorting out the "why" of that. I checked to make sure the saw, blade, and fence were all tuned. They were. So, it came down to a somewhat worn out thin kerf 24 tooth ripping blade that I have used hard for the last 18 months. It was dirty as well, so I took it off the saw and spent some time cleaning it. Much better, though not perfect. The edge of the lams are burned, from the original cut, but the flat parts that are glued together are all clean. The burned edge will not matter because after I pull the tiller fro the jig it will be run through the planner to smooth the sides in preparation for final tapering, shaping, and sanding. Once the strips were cut it was time to laminate them.
I covered an old piece of 3/4" ply (the original saloon plywood sub-floor in fact) with some 4mm plastic as well as laminating edge of the jig. Then I screwed some 1/2" spacer blocks down and then screwed the jig down on top of that with some 2 1/2" deck screws. Now the bottom of the jig was set 1/2" above the sheet of plywood. I clamped the whole thing to the top of my table saw and outfeed table so it would not move during the clamping process. I performed a complete dry run with the oak strips and all the pipe-clamps I would use to make sure I had the sequence right and that everything would fit.
Then I mixed up some Weldwood Plastic Resin Glue. I just followed the directions: 5 parts powder to 2 parts water (water to be above 68 degrees). I poured the water into the powder and stirred it up into a thin paste. The color was a soft brown, like cinnamon. With the laminations laid out flat on the plastic I brushed the glue on one side of each of the laminations (the directions said it was only necessary to apply to one side). I spread the glue out with a notched epoxy spreader. Then I stacked the five laminations, laid them on their sides, and clamped them in sequence from the butt end to the handle end. By having the jig horizontal on top of a plastic covered plywood back all the laminations where even and there was no sliding around. I'll leave them clamped for 24 hours. The temperature needs to remain above 70 degrees F.
After letting the tiller sit for about 36 hours I removed it from the jig. I was a little anxious about it. There was some glue squeeze out on the back side (bottom) of the jig) that I could not get to after I had clamped it in place. So I used my Porter Cable DA Right Angle Sander with some 40 grit to made quick work of the hardened glue.
Next, I ran the tiller through the planer, on each side, and took it down to a hair over two inches wide. It just fits the bronze tiller head. Though the tiller is tapered top to bottom, as you can see in the photos, it is the same width down the length. I will need to taper this part as well. I wanted to see what some other tillers look like so I took some time today to drive up to West Marine in Morehead City and looked at some of the production ones they sell. With that in mind I came back home and developed a couple of options for tapering the sides of the tiller. I will draw the line on the tiller that will represent the taper tomorrow. Then I'll decide how I want to tackle it. I might take it over to the base wood-shop on Wednesday and cut the taper with a big band saw they have--then plane it smooth and sand--or I might do it here with a skill saw and a belt sander.
I am very pleased with how the tiller looks so far. The glue line is very tight and almost invisible. The tiller looks and feels strong. Despite the obvious tension the wood was under in the jig there was only about 1/4" of spring back at the end of the handle when I removed it from the jig. Though it looks industrial in the photos to the right, it will obviously be more elegant and leaner when I finish shaping and sanding it. I want it to be strong but not blocky looking. When climbing aboard the Far Reach the eye should not be drawn to the tiller because the proportion is wrong--it should fit seamlessly into the rest of the boat. My plan is not to stain it. It will be protected with varnish only. The lighter white-oak color will contrast nicely with the mahogany comings and exterior teak.
The next thing was to measure the tiller and look at some options for shaping. I temporarily mounted it on the tiller-head and took it up to the boat to see how it fit. Looks great. I am pleased with the general shape of the curve. I am not sure how long to make it but I will start with 4' 10."
A few days later I used a 20" band saw at the base (a very nice machine) and taper the sides. Next, I sanded it with a horizontal bench belt sander. Then I set it aside to finish up in my shop tomorrow.
The next task was to start sanding and shaping the tiller. I started by sanding off the minor roughness on the sides of the tiller left from cutting the tapers with the band-saw. Then, I used a router with a 3/8" round-over bit to radius the end of the tiller to get a good fit into the tiller head. Next , I used 1/4" round-over bit to lightly radius the edges of the tiller just to see how it would look . . . it needed a bigger radius. The handle was also a little too thick. I wanted the end to be about 1 1/4" on each side since that is what is generally regarded as a comfortable size to hold. The tiller was about 1 1/2" so I had some work to do shaping it with a jack plane and a belt sander. I drew lines from the handle end back about 14-18" using a pencil and a flexible straight edge and kept sanding down to the line all the while feeling it to make sure I didn't cross that dangerous line where you don't want to go--too small. It took a while but I finally got it to where it needed to be.
Next, I used a 3/8" round-over bit to put a bigger radius on the edges. That really improved the appearance and feel of the tiller. I sanded for a while with 100 grit on a rubber block and with a piece of sand paper on a 1/2" thick piece of flexible foam as a sanding block. The flexible block lets me more easily follow the shape along the edge of the tiller. Rounding the end of the handle completed the days work. Then I took the tiller up the Far Reach and installed it with a shim to hold it in place so I could see how it looked.
I am very pleased with the shape and design as well as with my first effort at laminating a curved piece of hardwood. I am also pleased to have installed something I have been thinking about for many years. Other than many coats of varnish and some bronze round head screws, this essentially completes the wheel steering to tiller conversion--long may it live.
Test fitting the fully shaped tiller.
The shim is keeping the tiller from falling forward while I check it for fit.
I thought the tiller was finished. But not so. After looking at it last night the radius seemed a little tight so today I used a 1/2" radius router bit to soften the edge more. Then, I spent some time with various sanding blocks and 150 grit paper working on the last part of the handle. It is not quite round but the last 8"-10" of the handle are more comfortable to hold. I like it much better. I was also premature in my last entry declaring the tiller conversion complete. I forgot the deck plate that the rudder post passes through in the cockpit floor is just a mock-up--you can see it in the last entry photos. I have the epoxy tube stuck in a plywood template. I have the G10 plate cut out but have not drilled the 2" hole in it or epoxied the tube and the G10 plate together.
The next thing was to go to work on the deckplate that covers the rudderpost that comes up through the back of the cockpit floor and to which the tiller-head is attached.
I made the tube that is part of the deck plate assembly last fall when I wrapped many turns of epoxy saturated 17.7ox biaxial tape around a heavily waxed rudder post. I cut the deckplate out of G10 in the early summer and then set it aside as I worked on different projects. I had previously built a couple of mock-ups of the deck plate and rudder post tube assembly last spring, so this was pretty simple work today. The first thing was to confirm the angle the rudder post exits the cockpit sole. Next, I made some reference lines with a marking pen so I would know exactly where to cut the hole. Then, I spent some time setting up the drill press to accommodate the 45 degree angle I would need to cut the hole properly. I had to create some space between the G10 plate and the "iron bench," which is part of the drill press, so the hole-saw would be able to cut all the way through the G10 without bottoming out on the bench first. After clamping the deck plate in place and confirming the alignment of the hole-saw it was a simple matter to cut the hole for the tube.
Once the hole was cut I took the plate and epoxy tube up and test fit them over the rudder post head and checked the fit. Then, I sanded the G10 surfaces with a finish sander and 100 grit paper. Next, I routed a 3/16" "cove" in the bottom of the deck plate. This groove helps to make the plate more water tight than just laying caulk between two flat surfaces. I also routed a 1/4" radius on the upper edge of the plate to give it a more finished look.
The final task was to mix up some West Epoxy with 406 colloidal silica and some 404 high density filler. I took the plate, the tube, and the epoxy up to the boat. I positioned the deck-plate and tube over the rudder post then used a West System's plastic stir-stick, which has a chisel like flat surface on one end and a rounded popsicle shape on the other end, to push epoxy between the tube and the deck plate. I made a fillet by using a two inch long wood popsicle stick to smooth the thickened epoxy all the way around the tube. Once it is fully cured I will remove the deckplate and apply some biaxial cloth to the joint line to further strengthen it.
3 Nov 10 I started off the morning doing some research on the copper tape that needs to be installed in the boat. Having spent many years in reconnaissance units and teaching HF comms with small manpackable HF radios I am pretty familiar with HF used under specific military conditions. But, I am not experienced with it for long haul comms on a boat. So, I have been doing some homework to getter a better feel for what I am dealing with. I have been reading about the KISS-SSB ground plane. I spent some time revisiting some forum entries on the Seven Seas Cruising Association website. There is some pretty interesting info in the SSCA forum about this specialty ground plane system. After reading a lot of positive entries I called the manufacturer and talked to Craig. He is a cruising sailor and just came back from four years in the South Pacific on his Peterson 46 and had a lot to say about how this ground plane has specially cut radials built into the wire and how it eliminates the need to ground to a through hull. He and the others that have used it claim there is no need to glass in copper flashing tied to a through-hull or dyna plate. Just hook this baby up to the counterpoise out-put on the tuner and you are in business. It's not that I am skeptical but I am a "show-me" kind of guy. Nonetheless, the thought of not having to glass in 40-60 feet of copper tape definitely appeals to me. For the time being I will plan to go with the KISS SSB counter poise. I still have a dyna plate in the hull that has nothing hooked to it so it will be available if I need it.
Next, I spent some time looking over the boat then realized that I would be varnishing the cabin sides soon (as soon as the rain stops) and I had not drilled the tiller to accept the tiller straps that are part of the tiller head assembly. How are the two connected you may wonder? I want to varnish the tiller at the same time and I want the holes drilled out before I varnish it. Besides, the tiller has been sitting in the shop unvarnished and I would like to get it varnished and out of the way.
It was not going to be a simple job though. My best friend gave me a spare bench top drill press in early October but it had not been tuned nor did it have an auxiliary table that it needs if it is to be used as a wood-working drill press. It's not a very big drill press but it fits my shop well and should do the jobs I need done. I used a half inch piece of scrap ply for the table. I drilled some 5/16" holes in the ply over the the slots in the small steel table that is part of the drill press proper. I counter sunk the holes and then with backing plates I bolted the ply auxiliary table to the steel table with 5/16" flat head machine bolts. Next I checked the accuracy of the drill press for trueness. It was true from left to right but needed to be shimmed slightly to lift the back side of the auxiliary table. Satisfied with the fit I then drilled and screwed a hardwood cleat to the underside of the front edge of the table to keep it flat.
Next, I checked the fit of the tiller strap assembly to the tiller that I made in September. I improved the fit of the tiller to the box section of the strap assembly by shaving just a tiny bit with a spoke-shave. Then, I cut a 2 1/8" wide piece of pine from a 2x4 scrap and used a scratch awl to prick holes through the holes in the tiller straps onto the scrap wood on both sides. Then I drilled them out with the press. Once nice hole all the way through so I was satisfied the drill press was accurate enough for the job at hand.
The trick with the drilling the tiller to match the holes in the tiller straps is they are both tapered but different tapers. The tiller strap assembly came with the holes already drilled. It is a big heavy assembly designed to fit over a 1 1/2" rudder post. I would have to drill the 1/4" holes in the tiller and have them line up exactly with the predrilled holes in the straps. I spent some time measuring and once I was satisfied I repeated the same procedure I used with the scrap pine--I placed the tiller strap assembly on the tiller and used the scratch awl to mark the center of holes to be drilled. I removed the tiller strap assembly and then spent some time clamping the tiller to the auxiliary table. I had to shim the other end of the tiller to hold it level. I checked it several times and with then drilled the first hole just over half way through the tiller. Then I flipped the tiller over and repeated the procedure on the other side drilling just deep enough for the holes to connect. I think this is the safest way to get the holes to line up. If they are off a little then it will be in the center where the misalignment can be drilled out more easily. If you try to drill all the way through, and you are off, you risk having the exit hole way off and then you have to booger it up to get the holes to line up and you have a mess. It took about 30 minutes but all the holes came out fine. I admit that I breathed a sigh of relief when it was finished because I kept thinking how pissed I would be if the holes were off and I had to start all over. But, fortune smiled on me today. So, I pushed the SS 1/4" X 4" pan head machine bolts through and then added nylon nuts and washer. I did not cut the bolts though. I think I will order some bronze round head bolts. It will look much better. Below are a few extra pictures of the drill press modification and the tiller strap assembly mounted on the tiller.
Tomorrow I will go back into the boat figure out the next task.
Auxillary table for the bench top drill press.
Tiller drilled and straps installed.
Much later in the rebuild, while working on the frame for the shower water tank located in the port cockpit locker it seemed like a good time to further strengthen the cockpit sole. When I converted the Far Reach from wheel to tiller steering I removed a large steel subframe that supported the steering pedestal. The frame was bolted to the vertical plywood supports and through the cockpit floor to the steering pedestal base. When I removed the frame, I felt that there was less support for the cockpit. The cockpit is somewhat large and I felt it needed more support that it had. Additionally, the cockpit was tabbed on the outboard side of the foot-well, at the bottom, to the plywood supports but not on the inside. In fact, as I have previously mentioned there were a lot of bulkheads on the Far Reach that were tabbed on only one side or in some places, along the top, not tabbed at all. I decided it was worth the time and effort to tab the cockpit foot well on the bottom on both sides.
To do this, I sanded down the plywood and the fiberglass in the area the tape would be applied. Next, I vacuumed up the dust and also vacuumed out the gap. I performed an acetone wipe down (with a full face respirator and gloves). Next, I cut foam wedges from blue board with a 45 degree angle on one side and trimmed them to fit in the gaps. Then, I precut strips of 6" and 4" wide biaxial tape. Next, I mixed up West System 105 resin and 205 fast hardener and wetted out the biaxial. Last, I applied the tape, both layers together, worked out the bubbles, and left it to cure. This job cost me about a day of sanding, vacuuming, fitting the foam, and applying the biaxial. I am glad I did it. The cockpit has to be stronger and have less flex. I think it is the little things that help you sleep at night when offshore and mother nature is flexing her muscles.
The cockpit locker painting is complete and all but one shelf is installed. To the right is a before and after picture of the area under the cockpit I have not rerigged the Cape Horn Windvane lines. Note in the before photo that there is no tabbing under the cockpit floor. The two layers of 1708 biaxial significantly increased rigidity of the cockpit floor. I was skeptical about painting the inside of the lockers with grey vice white paint but I am glad that I did. I am pleased with the color and they coverage provided by the Interlux Bilgekote. The wood required two coats but the fiberglass and epoxy only required one coat.
Under the cockpit just after I installed the control lines for the Cape Horn Windvane.
I think the grey Interlux Bilgekote looks good. I'll rerig the control lines soon.
Rudder Stop. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to prevent the rudder from swinging more than about 35 degrees port or starboard. This is not an issue when moving forward but if the boat were to be pushed back, for any reason, that big foil could be pushed over with enough force to damage to the steering system. The original rudder stop was made of steel and was part of the under carriage for the wheel steering system. Since I converted to a tiller all those components were removed. After much thinking, the best option I could come up with was to install a strong eye pad to the under side of the cockpit floor that would use a high strength line (dyneema, spectra, or even chain) connect to an eyebolt in the center of the rudder quadrant to limit the movement of the rudder side to side. The rudder quadrant serves no purpose except to connect the control lines of the Cape Horn windvane to the rudder post. I decided to use a hefty SS pad eye secured to a piece of 1/2" G10 with four 1/4"-20 SS machine screws tapped into the G10. I then secured the G-10 to the underside of the deck with two 3/8" bronze carriage bolts with the heads passing down through the cockpit floor, through the G10, and finished off with 316 SS lock nuts. I previously bored two one inch diameter holes into the cockpit sole, for the carriage bolts, and removed the balsa core a further 1/2" back from the edge from around the opening, to equal about a two inch diameter plug, and filled it with epoxy. I then drilled, chamfered, and molded the hole to accommodate the square corners of the carriage bolt. I decided to go this route as I did not want to have a backing plate on the outside of the cockpit floor.
The rudder stop pad eye will connect to the eyebolt in the center of the steering quadrant. Since the boat now has a tiller the only purpose of the steering quadrant is to connect the Cape Horn windvane to the rudder post.
Updated 18 July 2015 -- How Do I Love The Tiller: Let Me Count the Ways
The photos to the right are from March 2015 after we took the boat shed down and just before we move the Far Reach to the boat yard. The tiller conversion turned out very nicely. In fact, the Far Reach looks like she always had one as it fits her in a very natural way. The first impression is there is a lot more room in the cockpit than there was with the wheel. Second, if we had a dodger, which we don't, a tiller would allow the helmsman to steer under the protection of the dodger, not a bad feature in an of itself. Third, the tiller allows a much simpler connection to a self steering windvane and eliminates a lot of friction that the vane with have to overcome if the boat had a wheel. Fourth, when not sailing the tiller can be hinged up and out of the way completely opening up the cockpit for better social interaction. Fifth, it is easy to steer standing up on the cockpit seats improving visibility when desired. Last, the feel between the helmsman hand and the rudder is a much more direct link. Response and feedback is immediate. This promotes, in my opinion, improved sail control for better balance. For more info on how the Far Reach sails with the tiller click hereand scroll to the 14 July 2015 entry regarding my first overnight sail--a four day shakedown cruise.
The cockpit is much more open with a tiller.
The Far Reach looks like she was meant to have a tiller.