32-200 Lost Rudder

Shawn Brooks

Member I
I lost my rudder on passage today in the Bahamas. I haven't had it hauled, but judging from some indistinct gopro footage it looks like shaft failed. I also watched the rudder float by me and it appeared undamaged. I'm pretty sure I didn't hit anything. Not taking on water and the quadrant/cables looks fine and operate normally.

Anyway, I'd like to reach out the community and get some ideas about either locating a replacement or fabricating a new rudder.

I'll update with more info in the next day our two. Until then, I appreciate any initial thoughts or leads.
 

goldenstate

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Super bummer, Shawn. You'll find my amateur field measurements from the rudder from 1990 32-200 in the Resources section:


If you have the broken rudder that will be a great source for the replacement fabricator

I am sure the forum would be interested to see any photos of how OEM rudder failed if you have the components.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
After the rudder departed, what was left under the boat--the rudder post and steel frame under the foam?

Do keep us up to date, I can't recall catastrophic failure like this happening before. What year is your boat?
 

jtsai

Member III
After the rudder departed, what was left under the boat--the rudder post and steel frame under the foam?

Do keep us up to date, I can't recall catastrophic failure like this happening before. What year is your boat?
It is a 1987 32-2 according to Shawn's other posts. I hope he can make repair without having to ship a rudder from the US. It can be expensive. My friend had to ship a $108 freshwater pump to Bahamas last week, it costed him $500.
 
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Bolo

Sustaining Member
I also watched the rudder float by me and it appeared undamaged.
So are you saying that the foam interior and exterior skin floated away, with out the rudder post? I'm assuming that if the shaft (rudder post) failed, like broke off or slipped out of the boat, then the rudder would of sank to the bottom. If the post and frame are still intact, and you have the halves then you might be able to dry the halves out in the Bahamian sunshine then epoxy them back together over the frame? Possibly add extra glass over the seams and do enough to get yourself back to Florida where getting a new or rebuilt rudder would be easier and cheaper. Making a lot of assumptions here on my part.
 

Shawn Brooks

Member I
I hired Foss Foam to fab a new rudder. Yes shipping is insane expensive, but so was the tow, dockage, and new rudder. I'll be down $10K before it's all said and done, I'm sure.

The rudder post corroded in the space between the rudder and hull, fatigued, and ultimately failed. Attached some pics.

I believe the year of my Ericson is 87, but it might be 88.
 

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Prairie Schooner

Jeff & Donna, new owners 7/21
I'm trying to imagine the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I watch my rudder float away. It ain't good.
Good luck with your repairs!
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Much sympathy, but at least no one was hurt.

That post must be stainless steel. I guess it was crevice corrosion. We're really going to need expert analysis before anybody has a good night's sleep, since it never occurred to me to doubt the hefty Ericson rudder post. Rudder posts are obviously critical and stainless has formerly worked well, as opposed to lightweight carbon fiber rudder posts that failed in the '79 Fastnet.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Shawn, can you bear a few forensic questions, just for the record:

--Was there possibly a weld of any kind at the break point.
--Was the rubber tube lubricated/filled with grease (pumped in through the tube grease fitting).
--Was there any sign of scoring of the post by the lower rudder bushing.
--Do you think an eyeball inspection of the rudder in place, either by haulout or diving, would have revealed suspicion?

I happened to have my own rudder out recently, for prop shaft replacement, but removal of the rudder is not a routine thing and for the 381 costs $900.
 

Pete the Cat

Member III
Much sympathy, but at least no one was hurt.

That post must be stainless steel. I guess it was crevice corrosion. We're really going to need expert analysis before anybody has a good night's sleep, since it never occurred to me to doubt the hefty Ericson rudder post. Rudder posts are obviously critical and stainless has formerly worked well, as opposed to lightweight carbon fiber rudder posts that failed in the '79 Fastnet.
That is definitely crevice corrosion of some kind, but what could have set if off? I see bottom paint on it and I have seen copper bottom paint pit SS before substantially, but never anything like this. Had someone shimmed the bottom with a metal shim or is there another metal at the bottom bearing surface? Really appreciate your post. Seems as though we all should add an inspection (could you have seen any corrosion without dropping the rudder prior to the failure?) to our haulout checklists.
 

Ralph Hewitt

Member III
Shawn, can you bear a few forensic questions, just for the record:

--Was there possibly a weld of any kind at the break point.
--Was the rubber tube lubricated/filled with grease (pumped in through the tube grease fitting).
--Was there any sign of scoring of the post by the lower rudder bushing.
--Do you think an eyeball inspection of the rudder in place, either by haulout or diving, would have revealed suspicion?

I happened to have my own rudder out recently, for prop shaft replacement, but removal of the rudder is not a routine thing and for the 381 costs $900.
Just built a new rudder since the original was stainless welded to black steel...? About 10" from top.
After taking apart the old rudder discovered the shoddy work... 1982 E38.
Used it for a mold for new one. Built much better than original. Make sure the Angle of weld is Right...
Put the old one back together to make sure.
After the rudder departed, what was left under the boat--the rudder post and steel frame under the foam?

Do keep us up to date, I can't recall catastrophic failure like this happening before. What year is your boat?
 

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Alan Gomes

Contributing Partner
FWIW, when I replaced the rudder on my E26, I paid Foss Foam in California a small amount extra to increase the rudder post to schedule 80 pipe. It only added $100 to the total cost. Of course, mine's a much smaller rudder than what you are talking about, so I don't know what Foss would normally use on a larger rudder like yours

Total cost in 2013 was $1242.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
In the "FWIW" department of comments: Back in the 90's when I had our keep dropped, inspected, and re-bedded, the yard also dropped the rudder down enough to inspect the post where it enters the hull and also get a close look at the rudder where the post enters it. All OK, with no observed problem. And then last year we had to drop the rudder down a long ways while we rebuilt the glass at the top where that pesky bronze fitting holds the top of the post in place (note Christian's excellent advice about checking on those 4 thru bolts). No problems observed. Of course The Future.... is "out there" as they said on the TV series.

Note that if you having keel re-bedded already, it's very little more $ to drop and inspect your rudder.
 

Shawn Brooks

Member I
Shawn, can you bear a few forensic questions, just for the record:

--Was there possibly a weld of any kind at the break point.
--Was the rubber tube lubricated/filled with grease (pumped in through the tube grease fitting).
--Was there any sign of scoring of the post by the lower rudder bushing.
--Do you think an eyeball inspection of the rudder in place, either by haulout or diving, would have revealed suspicion?

I happened to have my own rudder out recently, for prop shaft replacement, but removal of the rudder is not a routine thing and for the 381 costs $900.
I think you could get creative with some sort of weld repair, but not just welding. I think you'd need to remove some of the foam in the tube, remove the compromised section of the post and insert a machined slug of stainless and weld it back together. But, only if it were welded by a real pro. I wouldn't trust my amateur skills or some random "guy with a welder".

The tube wasn't lubed well, because I didn't realize it needed to be lubed--never noticed the grease nipple. There was some light wear in this area--a few thou.

There wasn't any scoring around the lower bushing but there was a bit of burnishing--no more than a few thou. The bearing and bushing were both lubed, but were definitely in need of cleaning and re-lube. I'm not sure about their condition though--it's a good point--I'll take a serious look at them tomorrow.

On my boat at least, there isn't enough space between the rudder and the hull to really see anything. I think you have to drop the rudder to be certain. You really don't need to pull the rudder completely though. Just loosen up the quadrant and bushing and tap it down from the emergency tiller port. An inch is probably all you need. Then tap the rudder back up and retighten the quadrant/bushing. It's maybe a two hour job. However, you might get some information without dropping the rudder if you use a hardened pick of some kind to score the post to get a sense of the integrity of the material. It might at least tell you if your post is in really bad shape.

I think the most critical part of the rudder post is the portion that's exposed to the sea. If there is an electrolysis issue, this is where it's going to occur. This is also the area of maximum bending moment.

I would have loved the opportunity to only spend $900 and not potentially loose my boat.
 

Dave G.

1984 E30+ Ludington, MI
The rudder post corroded in the space between the rudder and hull, fatigued, and ultimately failed.
From your pics it looks like that corrosion has been going on for some time on at least half of the circumference. No sign of any past repairs that you can tell ?
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
So this post has scared us a bit, and we're all thinking of implications. But realistically, with all the sailboats, Ericsons and others, how often has anyone heard of a dropped/lost rudder at sea.
Yes, let's check what we can, pump grease liberally into the tube, wiggle the rudder to see if there is unwanted movement, but let's not all panic.
Frank
 

Shawn Brooks

Member I
Super bummer, Shawn. You'll find my amateur field measurements from the rudder from 1990 32-200 in the Resources section:


If you have the broken rudder that will be a great source for the replacement fabricator

I am sure the forum would be interested to see any photos of how OEM rudder failed if you have the components.
I can't verify the dimensions of my rudder since it's missing, but I did measure the post diameter. Mine is 2.86", not 2.875". Just eye-balling pictures of my rudder, it looks very similar to your drawing if not identical.
 
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