And Now For Something Completely Different

You may remember a post from last fall in which I detailed a rusted rudder stock bracket.  Today I took a deep breath and went after it.  In about an hour I had it out of the boat.  Last time I tried to take it off I gave up.  This time, I wasn’t going to stop until it was off the boat – a determined attitude made it much easier to remove.

Last time – two years ago, I think – I became convinced that it was held on with 3M 5200 in addition to six or eight through-bolts.  I remember having trouble with one of the bolts, but reasoned that I should be able to move the bracket with one remaining bolt.  I was wrong.  I discovered today, that all bolts must be removed to really get it moving at all.  It had been attached to the underside of the cockpit for 32 years, and was inclined to stay where it was.  Amazingly, all but two of the nuts spun off with little drama.  I cut the other two off with an angle grinder.  Here are a few photos from where it was installed:

That's a layer of rust up there.  Not all the material came off with the bracket.

That’s a layer of rust up there. Not all the material came off with the bracket.

There were two bolts that passed down through the angled piece pictured which stabilized the bracket close to the rudder stock.

There were two bolts that passed down through the angled piece (pictured on the right) which stabilized the bracket close to the rudder stock.

If any Watkins owners out there fear that their boat isn’t robust, they can rest easy.  This rudder and shaft aren’t going anywhere if all the components are in good shape.  It is safe to say that the steering gear on the Watkins 27 is overbuilt by a good bit.  The rudder bracket started life as a piece of 3/8 steel, about 24″ in length bolted in 8 places to the cockpit sole.  It’s heavy.  My only worry about this bracket was the amount of material lost to rust.  If you’ve looked at the post linked above, you’ll see what I mean.  For clarity, here are a few more photos of the bracket.

This side faced down, with the other side bolted flat to the cockpit sole.

This side faced down, with the other side bolted flat to the cockpit sole.

This is an uglier story.  Trapped water from leaks around the cockpit sole chose found this space between the bracket and the sole to collect.

This is an uglier story. Trapped water from leaks around the cockpit sole found this space between the bracket and the sole to collect.

This is the section that got leaked on most consistently.  Right above it was the leaky place where the head of the rudder stock passes through the deck.

This is the section that got leaked on most consistently. Right above it was the leaky place where the head of the rudder stock passes through the deck.

And the underside. . .  Not much material left here.  The sides of the channel are beginning to distort.

And the underside. . . Not much material left here. The sides of the channel are beginning to distort.

When I dropped it on the ground to photograph, this fell off the top of it.  There is no scale reference in the photo, but that's a fairly big chunk of material.

When I dropped it on the ground to photograph, this fell off the top of it. There is no scale reference in the photo, but that’s a fairly big chunk of material.

I will replace this bracket with galvanized channel of the same original dimensions.  Two pieces of 3/8″ steel bolt on to the top of this bracket to form the upper rudder bearing.  I replaced them two years ago with 3/8″ stainless.

That gunky stuff is waterproof grease.

That gunky stuff is waterproof grease.

Although it looks (and feels!) like I’m in the middle of 3 or 4 projects at once, sometime in the near future I hope to start putting things back together.

 

 

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4 comments
  1. Tate said:

    Metal and water just don’t like to mix.

    • Certainly true for mild steel and water. Hopefully, the galvanized channel will do much better.

  2. Ryan on Miss Marisol said:

    I was thinking about this post all weekend. I climbed into the starboard hatch and back into the darkness. Oh the rust… I have quite a job in my future… Do you think this work could be done while in the water? Or is dry docking necessary?

    • This can be repaired in the water. It’s a simple matter of removing the old bracket and having a new one fabricated. Go to a machine shop with the old part and ask them to duplicate it. Then take it back to the boat and bolt it in place. One thing may give you some difficulty: a “stop collar” attached to the shaft rides on the shaft bearings. You can see it in the second photo. When I installed the new bracket, I had to lift the rudder slightly to put the bearings back in place. It was also supported from above, but the the stop collar really supports most of the weight. You are in no danger of having it drop to the hull bottom, as It is captured in a shoe at the skeg. But you may have to lift the shaft upward by 1/4 to 1/2 and inch. There are several ways to do this.

      You may not need to do this immediately. I waited about 7 years before I tackled it, because a shipwright told me there was still plenty of metal left. I’m glad I changed it out this year, though. Time had run out on it.

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