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Repairing a Sloppy Rudder Shaft/Rudder Tube  

December 5, 2008. An email exchange with Jim Robinson regarding his worn rudder shaft on Aquila prompted your webmaster, with some reservations, to share a fix he made on a "sloppy rudder" on Marionette nearly 12 years ago.

When I redid Marionette I had what I thought was a worn rudder tube to deal with. I took off the bronze heel fitting, dug a hole underneath the rudder and dropped the rudder out of its tube. The shaft was fine, so I assumed that it must have been that the tube was worn. Somewhere I had read about how to fix a sloppy rudder shaft. So, believing everything I read I tried it....

You heavily wax the rudder shaft and put it back in the tube. Do not reinstall the rudder heel fitting - the rudder shaft collar at the tiller end will hold the shaft up in the tube. Seal the circular gap at bottom of the tube (duck tape, of course) then using a Gougon syringe and a slow hardener, carefully drop epoxy in the gap between the shaft and the tube - from the top. Every so often you rotate the rudder shaft to help the distribution of the epoxy inside the tube. It takes a while but eventually you start to feel the shaft losing that sloppy feeling. Remove the duct tape when you are sure the ithe epoxy is no longer running and use a chisel to remove and smooth any still uncured epoxy that might have seeped around the tape at the bottom of the tube.

Keep working the tiller with wonderment. When you are sure the epoxy is cured, reinstall the heel fitting and have a beer! You have earned it.

This is a scary, have faith procedure. Wax thoroughly, heavily and evenly. Anyway, it worked and 12 years later I still have a smooth acting feel on my tiller.

Disclaimer - of course, just because it worked for me does not mean it will work for you :-)





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