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Info on 1986 Sunfish rudder carriage bolt set-up

Farm Coaster

New Member
New to this forum, and a total novice sailor. Great resource, thank you all.

My neighbor/landlord said I could use his Sunfish this summer. I checked the serial number and it's 1986 Alcort Sunfish. He does not sail, and he inherited the boat, and knows nothing about it. Our house, which we rent from him, used to be an AirBnB and some of the guests sailed the boat a few times (with his permission).

When I went over to get the boat from his property, he handed me a bag from a hardware store, and said "Here's some stuff the folks who sailed it left behind. You may need this."

I figured out what everything in the bag was for, except for one item. It's a carriage bolt, 6.25 in. long, which is clearly meant as a replacement for the old rudder bolt. However, the rudder assembly seems to be complete, and has a 5.25 inch bolt. I was able to fit it to the boat today. There is a wing nut to hold the rudder in place on the boat.

Photo shows original bolt already in the rudder assembly, secured with wing nut; and new bolt for comparison, on the right.

My main questions are:

1) Is there some reason I need a replacement for the carriage bolt that is already on the rudder?
2) Why is the replacement an inch longer than the original?
3) Regardless of which one I use, do I fit it with the wing nut on the top or the bottom? Seems easier to fit with the bolt head on the bottom, and the wing nut screwed down from the top (as pictured).

Anything else I need to know? Thanks very much!!



Well-Known Member
The original pin broke or fell out. It happens; however, this bolt and wing nut is about the same price and more likely to get lost again. :confused:

The Sunfish parts are a little "fiddly" to assemble, but the gudgeon snaps right in (or off) afterwards.

But hold onto both bolts. Bolted to the gudgeon, it's an unbeatable attachment location for car-topping or winter's windswept storage areas.


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
The bolt is a clever work around to keep you sailing until you replace the pintle.
If I was to use the bolt I’d put the wing nut on the bottom, this way if the nut works itself loose the bolt doesn’t drop to the bottom of the lake. A reason for an extra nut and bolt onboard is just incase you lose the one you have in the middle of the lake cause the wing nut was on top…lol.
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Farm Coaster

New Member
Thank you all for the useful and quick responses! Much appreciated. I guess I'll drop another $24 on someone else's boat (I'm also replacing the bailer in the cockpit and the sail rings and before long, something else, I'm sure...). :-D