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Restoring a Split Rudder

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
This rudder was given to me a while back in sad shape. I’ve had it hanging on the garage wall. Someone tried to repair the split by screwing a tiller strap to each side. I was going to just take the metal cheek and the straps (a bonus, since new straps are listed at an insane $69.65/pair) then use the rudder in pieces for backer blocks and such, but after I removed the hardware and sanded down that beautiful mahogany I filled the holes and cracks with thickened epoxy, then epoxied the whole rudder. The last pic is after one coat of spar poly. A few more coats and I think this will be back in use. It isn’t the prettiest- those wounds were deep- but it feels as strong as new.
Sea trials will tell!
 

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norcalsail

Well-Known Member
I have a similar problem with the one rudder I got a deal on a couple of weeks ago so I would like some advice on the best way to make it solid. It's in good shape otherwise...you can kinda see it on the rudder on the right near the top. It has slight play but actually seems serviceable.20200808_161042.jpg
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Hi norcalsail,
Your rudders are beautiful. I’d probably go the same route, but on a much smaller scale. I used West System Six10- I love this stuff! It’s a two-part thickened epoxy, self-metering so you don’t need to measure, and it doesn’t dry out in the tube like some, so there’s no waste. I’d probably tape off around the crack to keep it neat and make a straight line, then use an old credit card or small plastic putty knife to spread a thin line of epoxy, pushing it in to fill the crack.
Others may offer different methods, but that’s the route I’d go, FWIW!
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Here’s a rudder I bought off craigslist for $50. In the poor CL pics I thought the dark lines were shadows. It wasn’t til I got there that I saw it was cracked, repaired with epoxy, then zip ties were added! The ties were so tight they cut into the sides of the rudder, causing more damage. Don’t use zip ties on your rudder!
 

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norcalsail

Well-Known Member
Hi norcalsail,
Your rudders are beautiful. I’d probably go the same route, but on a much smaller scale. I used West System Six10- I love this stuff! It’s a two-part thickened epoxy, self-metering so you don’t need to measure, and it doesn’t dry out in the tube like some, so there’s no waste. I’d probably tape off around the crack to keep it neat and make a straight line, then use an old credit card or small plastic putty knife to spread a thin line of epoxy, pushing it in to fill the crack.
Others may offer different methods, but that’s the route I’d go, FWIW!
Thank you Breeze. I think you're right. It doesn't need much and I will try this less invasive approach with the West System 6-10. I was really lucky to buy those items at the price I did. Love the spare parts!
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
This rudder was given to me a while back in sad shape. I’ve had it hanging on the garage wall. Someone tried to repair the split by screwing a tiller strap to each side. I was going to just take the metal cheek and the straps (a bonus, since new straps are listed at an insane $69.65/pair) then use the rudder in pieces for backer blocks and such, but after I removed the hardware and sanded down that beautiful mahogany I filled the holes and cracks with thickened epoxy, then epoxied the whole rudder. The last pic is after one coat of spar poly. A few more coats and I think this will be back in use. It isn’t the prettiest- those wounds were deep- but it feels as strong as new.
Sea trials will tell!
Two changes to my previous:

I think I'll probably modify my last suggestion of sawing directly through the crack, and epoxying the new edges together. :oops:

A dozen zip-ties would assure even pressure along the new seam. Narrow wedges could be used to keep the rudder (or board) from warping in one direction or another.

The other change would be to use a saber saw with a metal-cutting (narrower) blade. It would create more roughness for bonding, match the contour better, and a narrower "kerf" would keep the full width of board.
 

leob1

Member
You need to add some butterfly patches across the crack. I had a dagger board that had a crack, I fixed it by adding butterfly patches across the crack on both sides, offset from each other. Then GENTLY spreading the crack and dripping in epoxy, and epoxying the butterflys and clamping it together. Then of course sanding, varnishing, rinse repeat.
 

Mashmaster

Active Member
Honestly, I would build a new rudder. The splits would have to be glued and strapped perpendicular to the split otherwise it will break.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Agree.

The same [weak] wood grain would follow the same split and before too long, you'd be back at square-one. :(

Start over, using a new piece of mahogany...IMHO...
 

Cam's Minifish

New Member
Sigh. Well I did work it into the price of the boat. How sensitive do you think it is to size. I can get a piece of mahogany at my local box store, but it is only 7 1/4" and I need 9" width. If I can't find mahogany at the right size at a reasonable price, can I use any piece of hardwood? I wonder if I routed some bowtie joints, strapped and epoxied if that would work. Sorry for all the questions, but I'm on a shoestring budget. Thanks for the quick responses.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Try a forum that deals with such things regularly--including budget:

 

Cam's Minifish

New Member
Try a forum that deals with such things regularly--including budget:

Awesome. Thanks for the link. This is really helpful.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Nice work Breeze Bender! Brought that bit back from the abyss. Keep us informed on Sea Trials please.

Norcalsail you can fill that oversize hole with thickened epoxy then redrill the hole a few days later. The epoxy will help seal the inner edge of the wood and act as kind of a very thin bushing, it should be easier to tap in the rudder spring pin vs a solid wood hole, which tends to chip out and even split sometimes.

For rudder head grainwise cracks where the tiller bolt goes we pry them open a tiny bit, enough to inject thickened epoxy from a syringe. Then if we are bored we drill a pilot hole into the leading edge at the top and put in a 3 inch deck screw, countersunk about 1/4 inch. We use the screw to pull the cracks back together just a bit, but not all the way as that would squeeze out all the epo$y that we just put in. Then put a dab of epoxy over the screw head to seal it. Don't tell anyone we used a screw vs a dowel, it will be our secret.

PS that daggerboard looks damaged beyond repair, if you like you could ship that to us and we'll properly retire it :)
 

Alan S. Glos

Well-Known Member
...or belt sand the blade with 60 grits sandpaper about 1/8" deep on each side, fill the cracks with thickened epoxy, sand again smooth and then fiberglass the entire blade with auto parts store el cheapo Bondo fiberglass resin and fiberglass cloth. You end up with a very strong rudder blade that will last for years. I have a 1985 Sunfish beach banger with a glassed rudder and daggerboard and both have held up well on the beach all summer in the elements without a cover. Both the rudder blade and daggerboard had significant cracks and dings before being glassed.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
after I removed the hardware and sanded down that beautiful mahogany I filled the holes and cracks with thickened epoxy, then epoxied the whole rudder. The last pic is after one coat of spar poly. A few more coats and I think this will be back in use. It isn’t the prettiest- those wounds were deep- but it feels as strong as new. Sea trials will tell!
Mahogany is a beautiful wood! It shimmers and glows in sunlight.

My good friend Carlos knew an entrepreneur in Miami who became a multi-millionaire in the 1970s by marketing a chainsaw with a 14-foot blade. He sold them to Caribbean tree cutters. Why--you ask?

The only remaining mahogany trees grew out-of-reach on steep hillsides (mostly in Haiti). :rolleyes:
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
fill the cracks with thickened epoxy, sand again smooth and then fiberglass the entire blade with auto parts store el cheapo Bondo fiberglass resin and fiberglass cloth.
That's exactly what I did with the upper 9 inches of a rudder that had cracking along the grain. The glass plus another coat or two of resin afterwards thickened the width of the wood that was a bit too thin for the rudder cheeks. I could probably drive spikes into the ground with that rudder now. The fiberglass makes it super strong.

- Andy
 

Cam's Minifish

New Member
Thanks for the responses. Ordered the six10 epoxy, next off to get some bondo and hopefully get it patched up and ready to sail. It's nice not to discard such a beautiful piece of wood. Cam
 

Breeze Bender

Breeze Bender
Thanks for the responses. Ordered the six10 epoxy, next off to get some bondo and hopefully get it patched up and ready to sail. It's nice not to discard such a beautiful piece of wood. Cam
Skip the bondo. Follow signal Charlie’s advice (above). I wouldn’t give up on that rudder!
 
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