Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

Preparing for Sailing Season '05
Solving the Rudder Slop Project

Click thumbnails for a larger picture


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Back on Oct. 27th I observed: "One of my upcoming winter projects this year will be reconditioning Chip Ahoy's rudder:  there's too much "slop" in it, which means I'll have to disassemble the blade from its housing and shave the housing down a bit. I'd hoped I eliminated that "slop" last year, but failed."

Yesterday it was time to take on this project.  (Jan. 30, 2005)

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I brought the rudder up to longtime friend Brad Barrows' garage. Brad builds hot-rods fulltime and is the best self-taught mechanical engineer I've ever known since I first met him. (He and I restored and lived aboard the Even Song and Idle Hours II some two decades ago.)

It may not look it here, but the MarineTex gouge repair I did last year held up fine. Still, there was too much port-starboard slop between the rudder and its aluminum housing.

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Having decided to first try building up the rudder blade before disassembling the housing and weakening it by reducing the thickness of its solid spacer, Brad came up with the idea of cutting a piece of thin (about 1/8") fiberglass he had and forming a spacer on each side between the rudder and its housing.

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Cutting two pieces of it to size and shape then drilling out a hole for the pivot bolt, we put the rudder back together. There was still a bit too much slop.

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Brad analyzed the result and concluded that we needed to increase the thickness of our homemade spacers, then it would work.

What a tremendous workshop/garage he's built. He's a professional hot-rod builder -- and I mean builder from virtually scratch:  he takes piles of 75-year old antiques and more current cars and parts, fuses them together,  and creates something entirely brand new that is literally a work of art, over and over again! He built his garage from scratch to accommodate his lifestyle and has populated it with tools and equipment over decades.

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It was an awesome experience working on Chip Ahoy at a location where every tool and piece of equipment you could only dream of was available: just reach for it or ask where it is!

Brad decided to use two pieces of slightly thicker aluminum (about 3/16") that he had in his stock of materials. While he was cutting and preparing it, I used his table sander to to cut down the three "teeth" on both of the circular rudder clamps to accommodate the the additional rudder thickness we were creating.

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Once the new aluminum plates were ready to install, Brad permanently glued them to the rudder blade, peened over the curved edges, and finally we reassembled the rudder and tightened down the center clamp. We had acquired perfect spacing between the blade and housing:  with the center clamp loosened, enough for the rudder to move up and down freely; but tight with the clamp tightened down. The slop was eliminated!

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The finished rudder assembly.

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All the "slop" has been eliminated.  In fact, I later had to file and sand down the aluminum plates in spots to eliminate some binding against the housing when raising and lowering the rudder. Next, I have to figure a way to raise the rudder blade fully out of the water. Brad suggested extending the tiller bracket further outboard: we agree that the designer gave no consideration to lift leverage.

Related project:  Increasing Rudder Lift Leverage

Moving on with Season 2005 improvements
It's never-ending ... but winter has arrived and Sailing Season '05 is coming!