Monday, May 17, 2010

The Other Rudder

Last year I inherited a "new" rudder for my T22 sailboat.  Unlike the original swept-back rudder, which was designed more for aesthetics than handling, the new rudder is straight and moves the turning moment much closer to the axis of the tiller.  Instead of two hands on the tiller pulling hard in a stiff breeze, you can sail along with a finger.

The original owner of this rudder had a sneaking suspicion that it was waterlogged and a lot heaver than it ought to be.  Two years of sitting in a shed, it was dry for sure, but there were a number of hairline cracks around the edges that had me worried. 

I decided to refinish it, seal up any visible cracks, patch the gelcoat as much as possible, and paint the submersed areas with epoxy paint.  First I sanded off the old anti-fouling paint, using an orbital sander and of course a double respirator, as the paint dust is toxic.
With most of the old antifouling off I applied some gelcoat patches to the most dubious areas. These would have to be sanded flush afterwards.

Once the gelcoat patches were sanded smooth I went over the whole rudder with Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure, letting the liquid seep into every tiny crack and crevice I could find on the surface of the rudder and especially around the edges where the two halves of the mold were joined together.

When the liquid stops seeping into the cracks, old Captain Tolley has done his job.  Next I painted below the waterline with several coats of Interprotect 2000 epoxy barrier paint.

Things are starting to look better now.  About six hours after the last coat of Interprotect 2000, I scored some leftover VC-17 from a friend and painted on the anti-fouling.  Nice an bright copper color, but it turns black within a couple of weeks once it's under water.

Turning my attention to the more visible part of the rudder I applied four coats of Brightside white deck paint to the top.  I polished the pintles and purchased new 3" bolts and nuts to mount them.  The new rudder is a little bit thicker than the old rudder so the old bolts wouldn't go all the way through.  The new bolts were a bit too long, though, so I cut off the ends with a dremel.  Broke about half a dozen disks in the process, but that's to be expected.  Of course I wore goggles to keep flying chunks of cutting wheel from hitting me in the eyes.

You can see the old rudder (curved, on the left) and the new rudder (straight, on the right).

The new rudder, refinished.


The rudder is ready to be mounted on the transom.  Here you can see the gudgeons and pintles, and the rudder after it's installed.



Finally the boat is ready to go in the water.  Aura looks good in her new mooring.

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