Rudder pops out in a good wind

Thread starter #1
Does any one have a fix for a 1970's rudder popping out of its brass fitting in a good wind?
I have tightened the wing nut until the brass plate is bowed but still having problems.
I don't have a carriage bolt sleeve anymore on the carriage bolt would that matter? Do they still sell these covers for our old sunfish 1970's models? Any help would be great as the young sailors are discouraged from using the older boats because of this.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#2
That, in fact, is an old problem, and the reason for the change in the rudder.
Other than tightening the wing nut, which you already did, I don't know what to recommend, but there are some more knowledgeable gurus who participate in our discussions (thanks) who may have a suggestion (or two).
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#3
Does any one have a fix for a 1970's rudder popping out of its brass fitting in a good wind?
I have tightened the wing nut until the brass plate is bowed but still having problems.
I don't have a carriage bolt sleeve anymore on the carriage bolt would that matter? Do they still sell these covers for our old sunfish 1970's models? Any help would be great as the young sailors are discouraged from using the older boats because of this.
The sleeve diameter helps control the bolt/Bottom Plate combination from shifting side to side and contributing to a rudder release. The sleeve length helps prevent over tightening the bolt and permanently damaging any of the Deck Plate, Spring Plate, or Bottom Plate.

You can replace the missing sleeve with just about any sort of tube that has a thick wall to add diameter to the bolt. I'm thinking a piece of 1/8" PVC pipe (the actual OD is much larger than 1/8") might work. Measure the width of the groove in the transom, then take the bolt to the hardware store and see what could fill the gap between bolt and groove best. You'll probably have to experiment a little to get the length so it allows tight clamping without plate bending.


In The Sunfish Bible, in the article Tuning to Win by Robert Johnstone, on p324, is a diagram of tricks to beef up a rudder connection. It suggests adding layer of rubber inner tube to the Bottom Plate lip to tighten up the holding power of the notch.

If the bottom plate isn't so worn this technique turns out to be successful, remember to loosen things a little before entering shallow water.

Aside from that, you are probably on a quest for a better Bottom Plate, Vertical Plate or both ... or a good brass brazer who can build up and rework your present parts to function better.

.
 
Thread starter #4
Thanks so much, I will look for the pvc and rubber tube for the bottom piece. I can't wait to try it. You have been most helpful. God bless you both.
 
#5
I've got a 1968 Sunfish I've been sailing for the last two summers and have a slightly different solution. In addition to tightening the wingnut down as much as possible, I got some advice from an old time sunfish sailor that in order to reduce the weather helm/pressure on the rudder that causes it to pop out in heavy air you can slide the gooseneck back further on the boom. That's worked for me the last few times I've been out in heavy air.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#6
That's a good point, grahambo. Keeping the boat flat will greatly lessen the load on the rudder.
Shifting your weight, adjusting the gooseneck, lowering the sail plan, and putting in a Jens can all help towards that end.
 
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