Just how thick should the rud­der be?

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: -

QOur rud­der is about one inch thick which is mak­ing the tiller hard to han­dle. Is there a guide or chart giv­ing an idea of the size and thick­ness of steel that boat builders use so that we can check ours?

ALAN THORN­TON, via email

ATONY REPLIES: I am far from sure that rud­der thick­ness is your prob­lem. If you are a new boater and only have prob­lems when un­der­way, it might mean you are try­ing to drive the boat too fast for the canal. It’s pos­si­ble to lose con­trol at higher speeds when the wa­ter flow around the hull in­ter­act­ing with the canal bed over­rules the rud­der

The bal­ance part of your rud­der (the bit in front of the stock) looks rather small – it’s said that it should be about one third of the size of the rest of the rud­der. This would tend to pro­duce heavy steer­ing when un­der­way but less so when sta­tion­ary. It will not be easy to cor­rect this be­cause there is also a min­i­mum ideal dis­tance be­tween prop and rud­der.

If it is dif­fi­cult to turn (and pos­si­bly noisy) even when sta­tion­ary, the stock could be bind­ing in the rud­der tube – ei­ther be­cause it has rusted, the rud­der has been caught on a lock cill at some time, or the boat has re­versed into some­thing solid, bend­ing the stock. If the up­per bear­ing uses ball bear­ings, th­ese could have rusted and par­tially seized. If it is made of a plas­tic ma­te­rial and al­lowances haven’t been made for swelling up when wet, that would also cause a stiff tiller.

Hav­ing said that, one inch does sound rather thick to me: there is no guide but 10mm to 12mm is more usual (one inch is 25.4mm). As your bot­tom bear­ing is just a cup on the skeg, a heavy rud­der would cre­ate fric­tion and stiff­ness.

You could try putting a brass or cop­per washer in the cup un­der the stock as a kind of bear­ing, but I sug­gest you con­sult an ex­pe­ri­enced boat­yard to find out what the prob­lem re­ally is.

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