Mutineer 15
Class Association
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Nickels Boat Works

Nickels is the current builder of the Mutineer.  They sell two versions of the rudder assembly:

1.  Racing rudder $704.68 plus shipping (December 2011)

2.  Stock rudder 528.13 plus shipping (December 2011)

The difference between racing and stock (Nickels refers to these as Finished and Unfinished) is that the racing rudder's leading and trailing edges are tuned for racing.  However, the stock rudder is fin for day sailing and racing.

The rudder assemblies come complete with gudgeons and spacers.  These rudder assemblies are not compatible with the Chrysler cast aluminum gudgeons.  Therefore, some work is required to remove the cast aluminum gudgeons and install the Nickels gudgeons with spacers.

The above is a photo of a Chrysler Mutineer fitted with a Nickels rudder assembly.  Notice the line running from the rudderhead secured to the cockpit.  The rudder keeper or safety catch (mounted between the gudgeons) cannot be trusted.  The best way to secure the rudder assembly for capsize is to drill a hole near the end of one of the pintles.  Then secure with a R Clip.  A drill press and a titanium drill bit are required.  You can bring your rudder assembly to a local machine shop and they will drill the hole for under $10.00.

Chad Harris' Rudder Assembly Odyssey

My 1972 mahogany rudder head exploded in a 20 knot breeze and it was late spring with the whole sailing season ahead of me.  I had to get a new complete head, tiller and rudder.  I researched and found a couple of options, the one that sounded the best was from Rudder Craft in Idaho.

When the rudder arrived it was much bigger than the original 1972 and as Mutineer's already have an oversized blade made for the 18' Bucc that was alarming.  Rudder Craft builds a stunning product but the one I got was like dragging an anchor.  If they made the correct planform and thickness of foil I would choose it as long as the weight was not too much. Also class rules would have to be changed to allow HDPE for blade material.

Here is a photo Nickels rudder on top of the Rudder Craft.

Reluctantly I bought a Nickels blade in the hopes of fitting it to the Rudder Craft head.  Nickels shipped the blade un-drilled so I could fit it to the RC head.  It didn't take long to figure out this was over my head, so now i'm forking out bucks for a new head, tiller and spacers.

I used a drill press to match the pivot of the old broken blade top to drill the Nickels blade.  If I would just have bought the complete assembly the first time I could have skipped this step.

Here is a shot of the pivot lined up and how much the pintles were in a different location.

I didn't take the time to fill the holes and glass over them, I wanted to go sailing so I just put in the old screws with marine seal.

The center pivot point is 4 1/4" from the bottom of the transom.
The top of the bottom gudgeon is 5" from the bottom of the transom, which I had to move up 2 1/4".  The top of the top gudgeon is 10 3/4" from the bottom of the transom, which I had to move up 1". That makes the pintle spacing 5 3/4" on a Nickels. Here is a shot of the transom, you can see the bottom gudgeon moves up much more than the top gudgeon.

I hated sailing with a hiking stick on the Mutt, I had some close capsizes do to the hiking stick getting jammed in the corner at the seat and transom.
After the first day at the Nationals it was obvious we could not get far enough forward without a stick.  I scavenged the hiking stick off the old tiller and we were able to increase performance in light and high winds. But back to the old problem, tacking and jibing. The stick was hard to control and would slip away when I tried to hold the two together.  When it came to tacking it was especially hard. It made for some very sloppy boat handling. 

Greg Reed introduced me to a marvelous product, it's called Velcro.  I can concentrate on a course change without having to worry about where the stick is, it's stuck to the top of the tiller.  By the way it works wet or dry (;.

All in all the Rudder Craft is excellent, but can't be raced in class competition. If I had to do it over I would have bought a Nickels complete rudder assembly.

Chad Harris