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 Cracked rudder

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smconinc Posted - 03/25/2020 : 17:03:32
Need a little advise. I'm a new Catalina 25 owner. I've not sailed her yet. The rudder seems sturdy, but is cracked front and back. I've done a lot of working, and feel I can reinforce it, and seal it, then refinish it. My question is, are these fiberglassed in the first place? Are they made from wood? I'm assuming if made from wood, that they are some type of ply? And what is the recommended finish? I've seen guys say to just buy a new fiberglass rudder, but as things are right now, money is a little tight. If I can make this work for now, I'd rather.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Steve Milby Posted - 06/02/2020 : 16:42:17
I'd repair it and use it until you get a new one, and then I'd keep it in your garage or basement in case the new one ever breaks. If the vendor doesn't have one in stock, you might have to wait for him to build it. If it ever breaks, it's not like an airplane that will fall 5000 feet and crash in flames. You might just have to limp back to your marina under outboard power.
smconinc Posted - 06/02/2020 : 16:12:21
I think I agree with you Islander. I'm looking for one now
islander Posted - 05/31/2020 : 12:40:48
If that was my rudder I wouldn't trust it even with a repair attempt. My opinion is its time for a new one.
smconinc Posted - 05/30/2020 : 12:35:40
back view of rudder
smconinc Posted - 05/30/2020 : 12:26:10
I'm trying to post a picture of my cracked rudder so I can get opinions. I hope this works!
Allmanjoy Posted - 05/02/2020 : 12:34:47
The tiller did have some delamination so I glued and clamped it. Then sanded it down and added three coats of varnish so the tiller looks great. I went ahead a got the CD balanced standard rudder and should receive it in about two weeks.
Stinkpotter Posted - 05/01/2020 : 15:27:41
I put what I assume was an earlier version (foam cored) of option #1 on our C-25 FK, and while we frequently heeled past 10 deg., occasionally around 20, I don't recall ever lifting the rudder out and losing steerage ("rounding up"). It looks like that rudder has been improved to replace the foam with an internal grid.

I've sailed other, generally beamier boats that would round up when heeling--a lot. The C-25 is on the slender side for a cruiser that length. As Steve points out, the farther over she goes, even if the rudder is still partly in the water, it's acting more like a flap on an airplane wing than the rudder on the tail. So length isn't helping.

While you're at it, check the laminations of your tiller around its bolt holes (under the side plates) for signs of separation. A little unthickened epoxy and a clamp can resolve it. And don't ever sit on the tiller--that causes something epoxy can't cure. I know--a friend lost his balance and sat on mine...
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/30/2020 : 08:15:45
Steve, Those are all good points and as always thank you for the quick response. My C25 has an alarm that activates if I heel more than 10 degrees, and if I go further than that alarm will smack me on the back of the head and not talk to me for at least the rest of the sail. So my wife would agree that having the longer rudder would be of little use. I also don't like the idea of further limiting the draft of the boat with the rudder.

John thanks for the affirmation on my decision to get the new rudder.
JohnP Posted - 04/30/2020 : 08:02:03

Good pictures! The cracks along the seams and near the pintle look just like my original, wood-core rudder that snapped off in a 25 knot gale.

After I read about rudder issues here on the Forum, I learned how to do fiberglass work. The West System has excellent info on many boat repairs with fiberglass. But I ignored the Git-Rot step. I believed that significant strengthening of the outside shell around both pintle attachment points would fix the problem. It didn't. Water and ice had got in and weakened the whole core of my 25 year old rudder.

You should plan on emergency measures needed if your rudder snapped off in high winds one day. Steering straight without a rudder is impossible under power, but the boat can move forward in curves. Sailing can't be done. Anchoring and calling/radioing for BoatUS or another towing service would be nice in an emergency.

On the C-250 Forum Henk is currently making a new backup rudder out of oak boards. He and his Admiral tend to take long cruises and are sometimes in coastal waters with no anchoring.

I've sailed with a number of C-25-250-Capri Association members and learned that "local knowledge" of the sailing venue is critically important, like knowing your boat and the local weather!

The surprisingly helpful members of this Forum can provide you with decades of boating and sailing experience so that you can avoid all the mistakes we have made. (I still miss Sven and his tales of anchoring woe on the ICW!)

My advice - Listen to Steve and also use some of that GitRot stuff as a temporary fix.
Steve Milby Posted - 04/30/2020 : 07:49:21
I experimented with my C25 TR/FK by sailing it grossly overpowered until it pulled the rudder out of the water and wallowed on it's side until I released the main sheet to let her stand up. I don't think an extra foot of length would have made a significant difference in the behavior of the boat in that situation. When the boat was heeling that far, the rudder lifted out of the water. The very end of a foot-longer rudder might have stayed in the water until the boat heeled another degree or two, but it still wouldn't have been enough to steer the boat. At that point, the boat was no longer floating on it's bottom. It was floating on it's side, with the water within a couple inches of pouring over the gunwale into the cockpit. So, realistically, under what circumstances do you expect that the extra long rudder would be helpful?

Moreover, on a swing keel boat, the length of the rudder dictates the depth of the water you need to float the boat. If you raise the keel to go gunkholing, or to beach the boat, you'll need an extra foot of water depth to avoid dragging your rudder on the bottom. Keels are more robustly made than rudders. If you drag the rudder, there's a much higher probability that you'll damage the rudder in a grounding.

If you trailer launch and retrieve the boat at a shallow ramp, a deeper rudder might be more problematic, because of increased difficulty in attaching the longer rudder while hanging over the transom after launch.

Overall, I don't see much to be gained by a longer rudder on a swing keel boat, but I see some drawbacks.

Of the three choices, I'd go with #1. It's thicker and thus stronger, and less costly. A C25 is not a bluewater boat and should never need a bluewater rudder.
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/30/2020 : 06:49:11
Thats what I figured. How about opinions on CDs rudder choices:

1). C-25 Standard Rudder w/ Pintles & Shims Improved Fiberglass
• Overall length: 65-1/2"
• Chord length: 12", 14", 17"
• Thickness: 2"
• Pintle Diameter: 1/2"

2).C-25 Deep Rudder w/ Pintles & Shims Improved Fiberglass
• Overall length: 78"
• Chord length: 14"
• Thickness: 1-3/4"
• Pintle Diameter: 1/2"

3)C-25 Blue Water Rudder HDPE, w/ Pintles & Shims
• Height: 80"
• Chord Length: 15-1/2"
• Thickness: 2"

I'm leaning toward choice 2. I like the longer rudder but the blue water is less to ship since it doesn't need a plywood crate, which adds $50 to the cost.
islander Posted - 04/30/2020 : 04:47:56
Definitely balanced.
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/29/2020 : 22:19:20
Balanced is like power steering. You can have some weather helm (a little of which I prefer) and still steer with one finger instead of constantly pulling on the tiller.
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/29/2020 : 20:22:10
So in looking at the photos, the opposite side of the lower pintle you can see the crack moving from leading edge to the first bolt hole. More troublesome is that it appears to be cracked inside the bolt hole consistent with the exterior crack. So it looks like the rudder just went to the top of the li$t. #128577;

So balanced or traditional?
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/29/2020 : 19:49:07
No worries, I appreciate a straight response. I took my awl and pressed inside the bolt holes and it was solid. I also replaced the galvanized bolts with stainless. The crack from the leading edge to the lower pintle bolt hole is definitely cracked through the layer of fiberglass. The crack between the two bolt wholes is easy to see in the photos but with the naked eye seems to be just at the surface. This rudder is definitely on the R&R list, but with the new engine and staying close to port I feel confident I can get home with a failed rudder.
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/29/2020 : 13:47:20
Now I would take some coat-hanger (or similar) wire and check the condition of the wood around the bolt holes. If it's hard and solid, that's a good sign. If you can carve it out with the wire, that's obviously not good. We're looking at the primary stress point on the rudder, and the place where they almost always break--right through the bolt holes and all the way to the aft edge--BANG, and instantly have no steering. More than a few folks here have described it.

A "surface crack" in fiberglass is just through the thin gelcoat--often called a spider crack. Any further into the laminate, and it's structural--especially there. From here, that looks like more than the gelcoat. I can't imagine tightening the forward bolt on the pintle enough to crack the fiberglass there--the aft bolt, yes, in which case the crack would be at that end, along the edge of the metal, and it would be structural. I remember trying to spread those pintles just a little for my new rudder, and they're really strong! Either way, that's the worst place to crack the shell.

Sorry, but so far I don't like what I see.
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/29/2020 : 11:39:49
It's definitely a surface crack, so it's something I'm definitely going to have to keep an eye on.
islander Posted - 04/29/2020 : 10:28:59
That crack appears to extend through both bolt holes. The big question is it just in the fiberglass shell or is it also through the wood. The shell can be easily cracked by over tightening the pintle bolts and is more cosmetic. If the crack is through the wood it's definitely more serious.
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/29/2020 : 08:17:32

Allmanjoy Posted - 04/29/2020 : 07:55:41
Ok , yeah sorry about the format, trying to get use to this format. That was the one area I was concerned with as well. I’ll remove the pintle and take a new photo. Stay tune.
islander Posted - 04/28/2020 : 15:44:11
Yep Dave, If you notice the photo was taken yesterday and that's my basement that it's in. Stays there next to the warm burner all winter and I will hang it on the boat just before they drop her in on the 11th. Actually since my boat is facing south and is surrounded by other boats on each side I could probably hang it anytime since the back of the boat is fully in the shade.
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/28/2020 : 12:59:42
Scott: Are you aware of the warning that if you have dark paint on that foam-cored rudder, you should keep it out of direct sunlight, the heat from which can expand the foam and split the shell?
Stinkpotter Posted - 04/28/2020 : 09:04:32
James, you're rudder is not like Scott's. His, and the broken one he showed, are newer, foam-cored, "balanced" rudders that Catalina started using around (I think) 1987, and that became available from CD. Your 1985 (and mine) came with a rudder that has a wood core above the waterline, and is solid fiberglass below. The pintles are bolted through the wood core. Moisture in that core can freeze, splitting the shells apart, and it can cause rot that allows the rudder to break at the lower pintle, where the lateral are absorbed. (I replaced mine with the kind Scott has.)

In your second photo post, do I see a horizontal crack on the left side inside the pintle? If so, that's very worrisome to me. I suggest you remove the pintle and give us a closer look. You might have a piece of toast... Marine Tex can patch cracks, but it won't add structural strength, and your core (the rudder's strength) is suspect.
Allmanjoy Posted - 04/27/2020 : 19:18:33
Yeah hard to know for sure, but with that he new outboard I feel confident I can get back to port. I get the Marine Tex, thanks.
Steve Milby Posted - 04/27/2020 : 18:49:28
It's hard to be sure from the photo, but it looks like the seam might be open around the pintle. If so, it should be sealed with something like white Marine Tex. Nevertheless, it doesn't look bad, but you can't be 100% certain whether there's hidden damage inside. Probably not if it wasn't open to the weather for long.

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