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Tiller flex questions

Lars Hansen

New Member
Hi There, I broke the rudder launching through some big waves on Lake Michigan. I found a rudder blank at Wolfs Marine in Benton Harbor and re assembled the parts. Unfortunately the stiffness between the tiller and the rudder is gone. Has anyone else had a similar experience and is there a well known fix? I have tried to search this forum but no luck so far.
All the other hardware appears to be OK. One thing I have noticed is the forward end of the tiller sits an inch or two higher than it was before the replacement.
I have three "thoughts" on possible repairs.
I could replace the bolt that connects the tiller to the rudder with an over sized bolt to make it stiffer.
I could beef up the brackets/straps that connect the tiller to the rudder.
I could try to "fatten" the top of the rudder to make to make it stiffer between the straps and the rudder.
Any suggestions?
 

matias

Member
Hi There, I broke the rudder launching through some big waves on Lake Michigan. I found a rudder blank at Wolfs Marine in Benton Harbor and re assembled the parts. Unfortunately the stiffness between the tiller and the rudder is gone. Has anyone else had a similar experience and is there a well known fix? I have tried to search this forum but no luck so far.
All the other hardware appears to be OK. One thing I have noticed is the forward end of the tiller sits an inch or two higher than it was before the replacement.
I have three "thoughts" on possible repairs.
I could replace the bolt that connects the tiller to the rudder with an over sized bolt to make it stiffer.
I could beef up the brackets/straps that connect the tiller to the rudder.
I could try to "fatten" the top of the rudder to make to make it stiffer between the straps and the rudder.
Any suggestions?
if you could post a couple of pictures it would be better for us to help you

I believe you just need to add some washers to the space between the brackets and the rudder blade but if that is not the case maybe your tiller is too thick and you just need to sand it and make it thinner
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
  • I broke the rudder launching through some big waves on Lake Michigan.
  • I found a rudder blank ... and re assembled the parts.
  • I have noticed is the forward end of the tiller sits an inch or two higher than it was before
  • the stiffness between the tiller and the rudder is gone.
Which rudder style do you have?



Speculating you have an older boat with a rudder similar to the one second from the left, here are some possibilities to check on.

  • Is the rudder blank flexing, maybe due to a crack developing or a lesser grade of wood?
  • The notch the tiller end rests against may be cut a little higher or just not worn down.
  • Could the rudder strap attachment hole be set forward slightly creating a gap between the rudder and tiller which would account for some noticible flex?
  • Is the pivot bolt a snug fit through the rudder?

I don't think enlarging the pivot hole for a bigger bolt is the answer. I hate removing wood from an area that already strikes me as minimal.

A month or so ago we discussed adding the rudder head to rudders that lacked one. More on that can be read in this thread.

http://www.sunfishforum.com/showthread.php?t=32514&highlight=cheek

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Lars Hansen

New Member
Hi Thanks for the responses. The rudder is a newer style. I think the flex is in the tiller or tiller strap or its attachment. The blade was official sunfish part as far as I remember.
Are there any reinforcements or stiffeners for the straps? The wood parts get varnished every couple of years, can the wood in the tiller get soft and bendy (the boat sits on the beach in the sun for long periods every summer)? Do the aluminum straps get soft? The boat has been sailed very hard in some very big waves at times. This is probably the third rudder blade whereas the rudder head, tiller and straps are all 25 years old. Any more thoughts?
 

surfski

New Member
secure the blade (protected) in a vice or similar in a vertical orientation then lighlty torgue on the tiller to determine where the looseness is.Does your tiller have a length wise split in it ? the aluminum won't have "softened" up much and if it is the problem is more likely cracked . DON'T over tighten the bolts going through the rudder and rudder bracket cheeks ! My money is on the wood being the problem.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
secure the blade (protected) in a vice or similar in a vertical orientation then lighlty torgue on the tiller to determine where the looseness is.Does your tiller have a length wise split in it ? the aluminum won't have "softened" up much and if it is the problem is more likely cracked . DON'T over tighten the bolts going through the rudder and rudder bracket cheeks ! My money is on the wood being the problem.
I'll second this, the wood's more suspect. Aluminum tends to "work harden" then crack, which would be obvious.

Something else I just thought of...,

Did the washer kits get installed with the new blade?




p/n 85012 . . . . . . . p/n 91261



Photos - Sunfish store at Yankee Boating Center.

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Lars Hansen

New Member
I used the remnants of the washers, my bolt however does not look as large as the one pictured, I think I will have to check into that. I'll also unscrew the aluminum straps and check for a hidden crack. When sailing in a good breeze and I'm hiked out the tiller flexes at least 30 degrees to widward. This is new since the incident that broke the rudder but I have not been able to figure out where it is coming from. Thanks for the suggestions
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
  • my bolt however does not look as large as the one pictured
  • when sailing in a good breeze and i'm hiked out the tiller flexes at least 30 degrees to widward.
Bolt size may have changed over the years so the bolt or bolts you have could be undersize for the present rudder blade pivot and tiller strap attachment holes. It's critical these bolts are nearly snug fitting in their respective mounting holes for all parts of the assembly.

30º is an awful lot of deflection. With that information, correct bolt fit is highly suspect. Otherwise, what else might it be..., the gudgeon bracket is about to pull out of the transom??


I have had rudder blades with holes that had become elongated. I filled the worn holes with epoxy and re-drilled them to the proper diameter. You may need to do this with your new rudder blade so all the holes (Tiller strap, rudder blade, and cheek plates/rudder head) match in size.

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Lars Hansen

New Member
Wayne, Thanks for the drawing, yes 30 degrees is a bit much it was more like 24.5 (stupid smiley thing). I'm far away from the boat right now but next month when I get back I'll check on this. Thanks
 
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