Doesn’t matter how you wrap it up, telling your better half that the rudder needs to live in the dining room for a couple of weeks doesn’t go down well!
I’ve read a few articles about rudder bearings over the last few months as the bearings on Polka were decidedly wobbly. There was a least 5mm of play where the stock came out of the hull. From the research it seemed that the manufacturers fixings on mass produced boats had a less than desirable shelf life. What I hadn’t been prepared for was the whole process being seriously flawed. Let’s just say that I’m going to be happier now knowing that I’ve fixed the bearing case and flange on the rudder stock myself!
The rudder stock has two metal rings fixed to it that are supposed to give the bearing a smooth running surface in order to do their job. Beneteau’s method for fixing these? Stuff a bit of epoxy in some holes and hope it sets.
Granted, assuming the self aligning bearings are installed properly, this will probably work for a few years, however for all the forgiving properties of self aligning bearings, they’ve only got so much give before they fail to align properly. My guess is that for the last two or three seasons the rudder has worked by turning the entire bearing case and flange in the hull cut out, surprisingly well as it turns out! However, the bearing had completely seized on the metal flange. The only way to free it was to cut the casing to relieve the pressure.
Next step; polish the metal ring and secure properly to the rudder stock. The bearing case itself should be adhered to the outlet in the hull allowing the stock to run through and the bearings to align themselves to the metal ring. Rudder stock re-inserted and fixed back in place and…. voilà!
Well that’s the theory, now I’ve just got to put in into practice!