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Old Style Rudder - Lower Plate Attachment

arsweb

New Member
After several hours of glorious sailing in challenging conditions yesterday, when I went to push/pull my '71 Alcort onto shore (I have a basic wooden ramp with rubber rollers) she was HEAVY - too heavy for me to handle alone which I normally have no problem getting her out by myself. At first I thought maybe I was getting sick and was physically weak and didn't realize it until that moment, not so. Turns out the screw holding fast the lower plate of the old style rudder assembly was gone and a steady stream of water was pouring out of the hole. It drained continuously for a solid couple of hours and was still dripping when the sun went down. I stuck a smaller diameter metal rod into the hole, and it feels like the wooden block is firmly attached (well something hard stopped me advancing the rod about a half inch inward anyway).

Would some silicone to fill the hole and a stainless steel screw be an appropriate repair step to make her sail-able and water tight (at least at that screw point) again? And does anyone know the size of the screw I should use? This boat was gifted to me at the start of summer after being in storage under a deck for a couple of decades and this is the first I've had to look into fixing anything besides rigging ropes.

I plan to put in an inspection port to install a hike strap attachment, but as we are so near the end of the season here I was hoping to wait until next Spring. Although now knowing the water was in the hull, I may do that come fall, store the boat indoors, and leave it open to get the hull good and dry over the winter.
 
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L&VW

Well-Known Member
Surely, there'll be another good sailing day before your Sunfish is stored for the winter! ;)

I doubt enough undesirable water has had a chance to become absorbed into the yellow foam that glues the white Styrofoam blocks in place.

So...what I'd do is fill the hole with epoxy, and drive a long bronze or brass screw in place as it nears curing firmness. (Or drill a 3/32" hole after it's fully set). As I recall, the screw is a wood screw. If that's the case, a special drill bit is available. (But not required).

If you don't have an epoxy kit, smaller epoxy glue gadgetry is available in every hardware store. (Silicone is water-resistant, but not strong enough).

For a fully dry boat in spring, air movement would be a big help. Heat from the sun or light bulb placed inside will help complete the drying process.

BTW: I was in a hardware store yesterday, and passed a selection of plastic tubing. About 30-inches long, a short section may be cut for use as a good substitute for the old-style Sunfish rudder tube. Check the smaller sizes at their "Shark-bite" selection. (Plumbing department).
 

arsweb

New Member
Surely, there'll be another good sailing day before your Sunfish is stored for the winter! ;)

I doubt enough undesirable water has had a chance to become absorbed into the yellow foam that glues the white Styrofoam blocks in place.

So...what I'd do is fill the hole with epoxy, and drive a long bronze or brass screw in place as it nears curing firmness. (Or drill a 3/32" hole after it's fully set). As I recall, the screw is a wood screw. If that's the case, a special drill bit is available. (But not required).

If you don't have an epoxy kit, smaller epoxy glue gadgetry is available in every hardware store. (Silicone is water-resistant, but not strong enough).

For a fully dry boat in spring, air movement would be a big help. Heat from the sun or light bulb placed inside will help complete the drying process.

BTW: I was in a hardware store yesterday, and passed a selection of plastic tubing. About 30-inches long, a short section may be cut for use as a good substitute for the old-style Sunfish rudder tube. Check the smaller sizes at their "Shark-bite" selection. (Plumbing department).
That's reassuring about the foam/water absorption! Epoxy makes sense over silicone - I've used marine epoxy for other stuff and think I can easily find it at a local marina (there are also a few missing rivets around the cockpit which I could fill and drill down the line to put in new rivets - the coming, too, needs some tidying up) Is there an advantage to using a bronze or brass screw over a stainless steel wood screw?

The rudder tube was a piece I didn't realize I was missing, doh! I imagine that bit cracked off ages ago. I'll check out the tubing you mention as a replacement.
 
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L&VW

Well-Known Member
More on early rudder tube:

 

wjejr

Active Member
Hi arsweb,

I will check tomorrow, but I believe the screw is a #12 bronze. I think the length is 1 1/4 “. If you are hitting something hard at 1/2”, I would check to see if the old screw didn’t shear. If the old screw did shear, you will need to use one of those screw extractors that looks like a tube with teeth That you can put in a hand drill. Hard to explain, but you can find one online easily.

I had to replace the screw on my boat, also a 1971, as well. The bronze had corroded enough after 40+ years that the threads no longer held. i cannot remember for sure, but I think I filled the hole with thickened epoxy, put a piece of masking tape over the hole and then flipped the boat right side up. That way the epoxy could not drain into the hull.

Finding a single #12 bronze screw may be a challenge, but sometimes Jamestown Distributor will sell you a coupe at a time so you don’t have to buy a whole box. If you are sailing in fresh water, stainless will likely be fine. If you are sailing in salt water, I would try hard to find a bronze replacement.

Hope that helps you.
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
[QUOTE="arsweb, post: 194344,

The rudder tube was a piece I didn't realize I was missing, doh! I imagine that bit cracked off ages ago. I'll check out the tubing you mention as a replacement.
[/QUOTE]

You might find the tube at your local hardware store, but I didn’t. Thanks to wjejr, who provided the part number, I ordered it from McMaster-Carr. shipping was way more expensive than the tube, and the smallest you can order is 1’ length (enough for 2 tubes). Easily cut to length- 5 1/4” if I recall correctly- but it was a very tight fit over the carriage bolt. I drilled out the center hole to make it a slightly larger inner diameter. An important addition to your rudder.

The exact number in McMaster Carr for the PTFE tube is 8547K31. A one foot piece is listed at $5.94 plus shipping.

As L&VW said, if your boat wasn’t heavy before you lost that screw then I wouldn’t worry about absorbed water in the hull. It wasn’t sitting in there long enough to soak into the foam. Are you able to lift it now that you’ve drained it?Just a minor fix and you should be back on the water in short order!
 

Weston

Active Member
After several hours of glorious sailing in challenging conditions yesterday, when I went to push/pull my '71 Alcort onto shore (I have a basic wooden ramp with rubber rollers) she was HEAVY - too heavy for me to handle alone which I normally have no problem getting her out by myself. At first I thought maybe I was getting sick and was physically weak and didn't realize it until that moment, not so. Turns out the screw holding fast the lower plate of the old style rudder assembly was gone...
You got lots of great tips already on this forum. As another '71 owner ) that's it with the original sail in my avatar, I decided to replace the old style rudder with the new one. I know that there are some aficionados of the old style rudder on this forum, but I definitely enjoy sailing more with the 'new'style. I did so with the help of Alan Glos who is a regular on this forum. I fully agree with doing a quick fix to take advantage of the end of the season, but a rudder replacement might make a fun winter project. :)
 

arsweb

New Member
I appreciate everyone's input to my OP!

An update: I was able to epoxy the hole and for good measure removed the screws on the top plating to check that the wood block was firmly attached and secured those back again with epoxy - I found the topmost screw was corroded and replaced that one as well. The repair seems solid so far ... still needing to get a rudder tube though.

The hull weight returned to its usual handle-able by one to haul out of the water so it does appear no major water retention in the foam. Yay!

When I flipped her over to do the repair I did discover a half-dime sized surface ding along the lower side where the enamel is chipped and the fiberglass fibers are exposed. It's quite superficial but I'll be getting some bondo once the season is over.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
It's gelcoat, so look for a gelcoat repair kit or MarineTex Epoxy Putty (White). I'd avoid Bondo as it is reported to absorb water and later chip off.
 
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