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Help with tiller extension bolt

River Time

Member
I have taken some time off from restoring my ‘79 Sunfish, but I’m determined to get her in the water in June. Much of the work was cosmetic and/or replacing some old parts. I also had to repair the mast step and a few other things, but this forum was invaluable in helping me do it right. Last week I decided to put a few coats of varnish in the dagger board and rudder which went great! Now I want to refinish the tiller and extension arm, but I cannot remove the bolt that connects them. The bolt head is round, smooth, and recessed. The nut probably has a bit of corrosion and there is no way to keep the bolt from spinning. I could work around it and carefully varnish them while still connected, but the perfectionist in me wants to do it properly. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions on how to get the bolt undone?
 

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L&VW

Well-Known Member
I had the same problem when I wanted to install a carbon-fiber tiller extension. :(

I had to sacrifice the nut by grinding it off, and replacing it with a store-bought bolt. The bolt also had to be ground to fit, but it looks like new. :cool:
 

River Time

Member
I had the same problem when I wanted to install a carbon-fiber tiller extension. :(

I had to sacrifice the nut by grinding it off, and replacing it with a store-bought bolt. The bolt also had to be ground to fit, but it looks like new. :cool:
Glad to know it’s not just me then. It is not broken, so maybe I would be better off to leave it as is, carefully varnishing around it. If it breaks in the future then I can deal with it then. I’ll wait to see if anyone else replies with other ideas. Thanks for your reply!
 

wjejr

Active Member
Hi River Time. Someone will know better than me, but I think what you have is not original. I would be more than a little surprised if castle nuts were ever used. My boat is a ‘71, and the hardware is bronze.

The carriage bolt goes through the extension and tiller and then is fastened with a nylock nut. There is a washer between the tiller and the extension which serves as a spacer between the two pieces of wood. There is also a washer under the nylock nut. Again everything is bronze.

From what you have posted, it seems unlikely you can save all of the hardware. If it were my boat, I would cut the nut off as LV&W suggest, or drill through the carriage bolt, effectively detaching the head.

When you put it back together, you will need to epoxy the bolt in place, otherwise you will have the same problem later. I would also strongly recommend adding the spacing washer between the tiller and the extension. This will prevent wear. I would also use a nylock nut. If you want stainless, your local hardware should have it. If you want bronze, you can call Jamestown Distributor.

Interestingly, the original nylock nut was bronze with red nylon. I searched everywhere but could not find one and finally settled on the normal white nylock. I sometimes wonder where the red ones ever came from.

Hope that helps.
 

Gator Bait

Youthful Sailor
What a coincidence! Just yesterday I finished re-varnishing my rudder assembly. Same problem as yours, I solved it by painting up to the bolt, didn't affect my performance in anyway and it's pretty straightforward. Hope this helps you out.
 

River Time

Member
I’m pretty sure it is original as my parents were the original owners and it was not used very often. The plastic washers you mentioned are all there. The nut is very unusual as it has notches all the way around and the end of the bolt has a small hole in it parallel to the head and there is a wire (which I removed before the picture) that fits in the notches and into the hole to keep the nut from loosening or being over tightened. Drilling out the head is a good idea. I may go that route. Thanks for the reply and I’ll post once I decide what to do.
 

danpal

Active Member
If you wanted to remove it, you could grind a slot into the head of the bolt with a dremel and hold it in place with a flat head screw driver.
 

sailcraftri

Well-Known Member
I have had similar issues. I use a pair of offset pliers and clamp the head of the carriage bolt and the tiller. I protect the tiller with a sacrificial piece of wood or plastic. The ratchet the nut off. Usually works for me and eliminates needing to grind off. I'll see if I can set up a photo of what I mean.
 

River Time

Member
If you wanted to remove it, you could grind a slot into the head of the bolt with a dremel and hold it in place with a flat head screw driver.
Thanks, I was thinking about that last night. Because it is recessed the chances of the Dremel coming in contact with the tiller extension handle and damaging the wood are high. If the head of the bolt were raised it would be a no brainer.
 

Alan S. Glos

Active Member
Sailcrafti has the right idea. Pad up the area with some wood shims, put a few drops of penetrating oil in the nut threads, clamp the bolt in place and then gently unscrew the nut. The problem is the carriage bolt is spinning in the square part on the underside of thr rounded bolt head. When you have the bolt off, use a hacksaw to make a screwdriver slot or epoxy the bolt in place. I like the screw slot idea myself.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

wjejr

Active Member
Just looking at the picture again. Maybe you could cut the slot in the end of the bolt, as there seems to be enough metal proud of the nut. You could then use a screwdriver to hold the bolt and then a wrench to loosen the nut. Just a thought.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Thanks, I was thinking about that last night. Because it is recessed the chances of the Dremel coming in contact with the tiller extension handle and damaging the wood are high. If the head of the bolt were raised it would be a no brainer.
Is there enough bolt sticking out to cut a slot in the other end? :)

Oops...:oops: wjejr already asked, and I didn't follow the gist of the suggestion. (Which is a good one).
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
A suggestion as to something to think about when you either get that nut off your bolt or cut it off. The current vertical bolt that connects your tiller to your tiller extension doesn't allow for your tiller extension to move through an unlimited range of motion. Just a range of motion that is parallel to your tiller... unless you lift both the tiller extension and the tiller. Which can be cumbersome.

That's why I'd suggest you replace your bolt and nut with a universal joint that connects your tiller to your tiller extension. Here's one at Intensity Sails for only $6.

With a universal joint, your tiller extension will be able to easily follow all the movements of your hand, wrist and arm as you go about your business of sailing. Notice all the variations of the changing angle of the tiller extension to the tiller in the first minute and a half in this video as Greg and Phil sail their Laser and Sunfish.

BTW, your daggerboard and rudder look great! :)

Best,

- Andy
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
A 'universal' like Andy described is the way to go, but may not be 'authentic'.
You will also need a tiller extension that fits the 'universal'.
 

Pete Z

Member
If I remember correctly I have seen that round headed bolt with a square section on the reverse.
The bolt fit into a square section in the hole on the tiller, thus the bolt would not turn when the nut
was attached. However over the years the square section in the tiller rounded out and the bolt
would turn when you tried to remove the nut.
 

Bigtimemcalpine

New Member
Couple of thoughts:
1) soak the nut in penetrant and let it do its thing overnight. Don’t cheap out and use WD40, get real penetrant (Liquid wrench, PB blaster or other)
2) Use a well-used Dremel cutting wheel to cut a notch in the head of the bolt as previously suggested. A well used wheel will have a small enough dia that you can get in there without damaging the wood. You won‘t need that wide a notch if you then employ an impact driver to remove nut
3) as per above, don’t attempt to use brute force to remove nut, use an impact tool. This will allow you to use moderate force only on the notched head thus minimizing likelihood of stripping the notch and rotating the bolt.
 
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