Need to tighten rudder bolt

Thread starter #1
My rudder bolt is too loose, the rudder drops when moving the boat on the dolly. Can I just tighten it, or do I have to be careful and do it in a certain way so that I don't damage my rudder? Should I put rubber washers in to provide the friction so it won't drop?? This is an old recreational laser I bought, and it wasn't maintained much.

thanks, Linda


Active Member
Just tighten the bolt enough so that you can move the blade up and down with one hand. No extra washers. Most top racers actually tighten their rudder bolts as tight as they can, in order to make the rudder essentially fixed. Doesn't cause any damage.
Just checking to see if you have the large mega bolt or the old style bolt which is thinner and included a plastic insert to secure the blade. The smaller bolts were always working loose but no problems with the larger mega bolt. The first image shows the old style fitting which is often in black the second is the new replacement.

upload_2017-4-27_8-30-21.jpeg upload_2017-4-27_8-30-58.jpeg


Active Member
Very few pre-1990s boats have the "mega" rudder bolt, whose purpose I've never understood. If you have a lock nut, it won't work loose. What does the diameter of the bolt have to do with it?
Best illustrated with a photograph and a diagram. I must have been sailing Lasers too long as I had all the parts in my tool box.

As you can see the steel washer on the bolt of the old fitting is the same size as the hole in the stock and the pressure from the bolt is transferred to the stock and blade through the plastic which is softer than the steel, wears and flexes. On the new larger bolt the head of the bolt and the washer are much larger and the pressure is transferred straight through the steel washer directly onto the stock and blade so with the same torque on the nut the new bolt applies more pressure to the blade. As the whole fitting on the new bolt is steel, it does not wear so quickly and you can apply more torque the the new larger nut without risking stripping the threads.

IMG_4441_2.jpg Laser Rudder Bolts.png


Active Member
Best illustrated with a photograph and a diagram.
Yes! That's the way these things should be explained. If you went to the club and asked this kind of question, most would probably say something like "everybody else does it like that", or "my coach/dad/a sailor that I look up to said it's good". Not very scientific.

That said, I think while the argument is valid, the conclusion isn't necessarily relevant in the real world. Sure you can apply more torque to the bigger bolt, but do you need to? It might just make sense with a semi-fixed rudder, but I understand that that's not what the original poster wants.

Then again, I recall that NHnewbie had posted this picture of her rudder:

It's not altogether clear, but it looks like the bolt is on the small side, but there's no bushing visible either. Is this what the 1970s boats all had? How big are the bolt and the holes?
The bigger bolt is just easier to adjust, you can get a wrench on it and adjust it without problems. Much easier than the original plastic bushed thing.
It's also just a 10mm stainless bolt as found all over the place. When I do it, I buy an 80mm bolt which has an unthreaded portion of the correct size so the rudderblade is not resting on the threaded portion. I put the nut on and cut off the long end. Because none of our club lasers are raced where anyone bothers about the rules I also use a bigger washer to spread the load a bit more, 20mm as in the rules seems a bit small.

Finally to avoid electolysis between the washer and the face of the rudder I add a washer made of a piece of cut out plastic bottle. Since doing this I have hardly had to repair rudder blades as the tips now stay up in the air when moving the boat on land.
Thread starter #8
Thank you to all that responded to my post. I definitely appreciate the explanation of why the bigger diameter bolt is better.

LaLi is right, upon closer inspection, my rudder has a pretty small bolt and no bushings. I'm going to upgrade to the bigger bolt and will add in that plastic bushing as suggested by Riv. I'm looking forward to launching without dragging my rudder!