AN OFF-CEN­TER TILLER

SAIL - - Ask Sail -

Q: I re­cently had some work done on a 1988 Eric­son 26. Dur­ing the re­pairs, there was work done on the tiller in the cock­pit. The rud­der was dropped to the ground but not com­pletely re­moved; ap­prox­i­mately 6-8in of the rud­der tube was show­ing as it sat on the ground. After the work was com­pleted and I went to pick up the boat I no­ticed that the tiller was no longer in the cen­ter of the cock­pit, but in­stead was roughly 1in to the right (from the stern). Of course, I brought this to the at­ten­tion of the gentle­man who did the work. He said it was im­pos­si­ble for it to be in the wrong po­si­tion. He had fiber­glassed over where the tiller had been po­si­tioned, and when he got ready to drill the holes to re­place the tiller he went be­low the cock­pit and drilled through the holes that held the tiller tube to the bot­tom of the cock­pit so they had to be in the right po­si­tion. I am also sure that the tiller was in the mid­dle of the cock­pit, side to side.

I am not point­ing blame, just try­ing to de­ter­mine if both of us could be right and still have the prob­lem. Due to un­usual cir­cum­stances, the boat sat in the yard with the rud­der rest­ing on the ground while still in the rud­der tube for a pe­riod of over two months. With the rud­der tube dis­con­nected from the bot­tom of the deck, is it pos­si­ble that the weight of the rud­der or the move­ment of the rud­der to place a lad­der, for in­stance, put enough weight or pres­sure on the tube to cause it to move ever so slightly to one side or the other? I am think­ing the pro­longed weight on the rud­der tube with no sup­port re­sulted in a slight shift of the tube at the top, and when the holes were re-drilled the re­sult was the holes were out of cen­ter. Is it pos­si­ble that this hap­pened? I now have an off­set tiller in the cock­pit, and the rud­der hangs slightly out of cen­ter from the bot­tom of the boat. I know he thinks that he is cor­rect but, I know my boat well enough to know the tiller is now in the wrong po­si­tion. Leonard Mob­ley, sail­mail@sail­magazine.com

DON CASEY REPLIES

You may be right. Stress on the de­tached tube as the rud­der and hull moved in­de­pen­dently could cer­tainly dis­place the top of the tube. Or the stress could have al­ready been there from 30 years of the molec­u­lar re­ar­rang­ing that a plas­tic boat is sub­ject to, so that when the tube is freed at the top, it springs to a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude. In ei­ther case, using the mount­ing holes in the up­per flange as a drill guide with­out first check­ing align­ment was a bad idea. The shaft needs to be in perfect align­ment with the keel, and if it is not, cor­rec­tive mea­sures are es­sen­tial. This likely means a com­plete do-over, this time check­ing the tube/rud­der align­ment be­fore drilling more than pi­lot holes.

DON CASEY HAS WRIT­TEN MANY BOOKS AND AR­TI­CLES ON MARINE MAIN­TE­NANCE AND RE­PAIRS

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