Santana 20 Rudder Bearing Repair

By Tucker Strasser & Ralph Taylor

So you've checked your tiller and it is OK, but your rudder still feels sloppy? Well your problem might be in the rudder bearing. Lucky for you Tucker Strasser has developed a way to repair worn out ruuder bearings. He makes it sound so easy you will probably want to do it every time the relatives come over!

What better time of year than the Holidays, when the relatives are over, to repair your boat. If your rudder is loose from years of using it for propulsion before during, and after a race now there's an easy fix! YOU will need a wrench, a screwdriver, paste wax, graphite powder, and silicon spray. Buy the following:

105 West System Epoxy
205 Hardener
423 Graphite Power

(The epoxy mixed with the graphite will be self lubricating. For technical information or to order materials, call Gougeon Brothers at (617)684 7286, or Mike at Multihull Marine at (310)821-4647.) Also helpful, one small person, appropriate beverages, paper towels, Band Aids, and wax paper.

First chill the beverage then remove the rudder. Have someone hold the rudder so it doesn't fall and dent the driveway. Then get someone small, who doesn't complain too much, to crawl into the back of the boat with a screwdriver and remove the two hose clamps and then the rubber tubing. This will take some work, but it will eventually came off. Next wax the rudder post with a paste floor wax (such as Johnson's Paste Wax) and then spray it with silicon. Make a mix of epoxy and graphite and coat the inner bearing at the deck level and at the bottom. Tip: I used a stick to coat the inside as best as I could. Slide the rudder back in the hole and attach at the top. Note, it's a good idea to cover the rudder with wax paper as most of the epoxy will drip-out as you're attaching the rudder. Next, go back inside the boat and clean up the epoxy where the rudder tube attaches. Leave excess epoxy on the post since it will peel off later While the epoxy sets up, four to six hours, consume the beverages telling your spouse that you're too busy to help with whatever.

At the point when the epoxy has set Up (4-6 hours) rotate the rudder a few times to break the bond. It will be very stiff, but don't worry. Let it sit over night. The next day remove excess epoxy on the rudder post and remove the rudder. Reinstall the rudder hose, wax post again, and reinstall everything. If the relatives are still around you might want to get your crew and go sailing to make sure it all works. Now you will win all races! Happy Holidays!

Note: If the rudder is extremely loose check to see that it doesn't tilt to one side or the other. You want to keep it in alignment with the keel. If you have any quest ions, or heck, just want to talk about racing, contact rtswood@aol.com

Notes on Graphite/Epoxy Mix

By Ralph Taylor

So now you are asking "How much graphite to add to the mix?" To give a facetious answer, "Enough." The reason is that when you mix epoxy resin and hardener with other materials (such as graphite powder, micro-balloons, silica, cotton fiber, whatever) usually the consitency of the mixture is specified rather than the component amounts.

The consistencies are - from thinnest to thickest - syrup, ketchup, mayonnaise, and peanut butter. For small batches, I usually start adding the solid powder to the resin only, mixing as I go, until the mixture is a little stiffer than desired, then add hardener. If you judge right, the hardener will thin it down to the right consistency. After the first batch or two, you'll get the feel of how much powder to add at a time. I start with a volume of solid equal to the resin and keep adding and stirring until it looks right.

For this job you won't need very much. A few ounces of each should do it. I think peanut butter is the consistency you want, so the stuff will stay up there.

Be sure to wax the rudder shaft and turn it before the resin sets hard. Setting time will be determined by whether you use fast or slow hardener, by the temperature, and by how big the lump of resin is. (Bigger amounts set faster because the process generates its own heat.)

I would recommend using West System products, which you can order off their Web site, if you don't find them at your local chandlery or borrow from a buddy. West has everything you'll need, including the graphite powder. I recommend West because of the quality and their clear instructions. You don't want to do this job twice! Not because it's so hard the first time, but it would be really hard the second time.

Good sailing,
Ralph