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
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.
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.