Rudder

The rudder is another crucial part of the boat that needs attention. Driving the car with a loose steering wheel, or close manoeuvring without power steering (heavy), this is the same effect as not having your rudder set up correctly. In addition, the fact that the rudder blade itself is as long as it is, just amplifies the potential problem.

We hear many stories where the blade or the stock broke whilst sailing. Usually it happens when the boat has just been launched and the rudder has yet to be locked down due to shallow water. A gust of wind hits, the boat heels over and the rudder is used to steer the boat flat. This loads the rudder up immensely and can cause it to break or at least weaken. Instead of using the rudder to steer, people should be using balance and sails to steer. Come on a training course to find out more.

Anyay back to the topic of this article.

The rudder consists of 4 main components:

  • Rudder blade
  • Bottom stock
  • Top stock
  • Tiller

rudderYou may think the top stock is the same as the tiller, they're not - even though they do corrode together to form what seems to be one item.

Remove the pivot bolt that passes through the top stock and the top of the rudder blade so you can see how it is all constructed. The top stock has elongated slots in it, these are to fine tune the rudder position and need packing with something solid so that if the bolt slips, the blade stays down.

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So to set the angle of the blade, you need to put the rudder in a fully down position whilst it is fitted on the back of the boat.

  • So put your boat on its launching trolley and in turn on the road base, or hang the boat over a cliff edge (might be difficult to tweak the rudder the latter option).
  • Lock the tiller down but don't put the pin in.
  • Standing at the back of the boat (and with the stock bolt just loose) , push the blade to the front of the boat with your leg and get someone to pull the tiller forward also.
  • With the blade and tiller being pushed and pulled forward, tighten the top stock bolt. Due to the nylon washers between the rudder blade and the top stock, you should still be able to pivot the tiller / top stock (i.e. not be able to over tighten the bolt).
  • Test the fitting. It should be all ok.

With the blade fully locked down, the front of the blade should be touching the bottom part of the bottom stock (THE RED CIRCLE AREA IN PIC 1). If there is a gap, then you need to set the rudder up again - "do or do not, there is no try" said Mr Yoda. You need to get rid of any gap at this point, so persevere and file out bits if required in places. 2mm gap at this point could see the lower tip of the blade ~25mm out of position.

Now the blade is in position, you need to pack the sides of the blade to stop it rattling in the stock. I personally use ice-cream tub lids on 1013 - cheaper (top pic). 815 have done similar, but gelcoated over the top - flashy buggers!

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Ensure the label is removed else it gets soggy and falls off no matter what type of adhesive you use (I found this one out the hard way). With the rudder locked down, using a pencil, mark either side of the lower beam of the bottom stock (2 lines on each side of the blade). Unlock the rudder and you should now see where the stock lines up on the blade when down. This is the only area where you need to fit the packing. If you put it in the other areas that are in the stock when the blade is up, you will struggle to get the blade up as it will be too snug a fit.

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