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Tiller height, bronze keel plate questions


Active Member
Hello fellow Sunfishers. I have a couple of questions regarding the bronze keel plate used in the old style rudder.

I refinished the rudder of my 1971 Sunfish and made a new tiller and extension exactly like the ones that came with the boat. When I reassembled everything, I was surprised to see how high the tiller sits off the deck. The height must be 6" or so. I would think it would only want to be half that height.

Looking at the tiller and rudder assembly, I noticed that the bronze carriage bolt that controls the tension for the rudder release is nowhere near vertical, but instead angles closer to the stern, which brings me to my questions.

1. I need to fix the the screw that holds the keel plate to the boat as the the screw no longer grips the wood and won't tighten. Should I move the plate back about 5/16". If I do that, there will not be as much of the keel plate in contact with the bottom, and I am a bit worried about lateral force while sailing. This brings me to the second question:

2. Should I bed the keel plate with 4200 or 5200, and if I do will the bronze spring flex enough for the rudder to kick-up? I guess I don't fully understand where the "spring" in the system is supposed to be: top, bottom, or both plates.

3. I could also move the top plate (i.e the plate on the deck) forward to bring the bolt into line.

Either doing 1 or 3 would obviously lower the tiller closer to the deck.

Thanks in advance for any help.


Active Member
Well, option 3 isn't possible because the hole where the carriage bolt passes through the deck limits travel. I think option 1 isn't the best either as it seems the plate won't stay put laterally.

So now I am thinking that I need to notch the tiller it rides lower on the deck.

Any thoughts?


Well-Known Member
I've got a similar problem with the new style tiller. 'Think I'll just cut off a ½" at the tiller end, and drill new holes at the "right" height.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I'd move the latch plate (keel) aft. And would not bed it.

The spring comes from the rectangular spring plate that rests on top of the deck plate.