32-3 lower rudder bearing

Dave G.

1984 E30+ Ludington, MI
Not positive about the 32-3 (what year ?). My 84 E30 doesn't have a bearing, It's a bushing that's glassed into the hull. Others may know more about your specific model.
 

AK67

Junior Member
I'm trying to figure out the same for my 86 28-2. Rudder removed, no sign of any bearing. Manual also makes no mention of a bearing, but mentions using Teflon shims to reduce rudder play.
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
Does anyone have some knowledge about the dimensions and location of this bearing? Is it replaceable?
There are two parts commonly referred to as rudder bearings on the 32-3 lower rudder.

The first is the glassed-in sleeve bearing (bushing) that Dave mentions above. On the 32-3, it appears to be about 6" tall with a nominal ID of about 2-7/8" (I never accurately measured it). Because of how/where it is glassed in, most people consider it non-replaceable--that would be an enormous job. Fixes for a worn sleeve bearing include Teflon/stainless steel shims, or the West Systems Epoxy rudder tube repair method.
20210114_165106.jpg 20210114_163656.2.jpg

The second is the plastic washer placed around the rudder tube to keep the top of the rudder from scraping against the sleeve bearing. This is easily replaced any time the rudder is removed. I think Catalina Parts Direct sells them.
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Dave G.

1984 E30+ Ludington, MI
I had to drop the rudder on my E30+ for other reasons a couple of years ago and I found shim stock wrapped around the shaft. It was brass or possibly bronze. It wasn't doing anything as it had slipped above the bushing. Long story short(er) I discovered my rudder tube had "0" grease in it so I filled it up with grease. Pre grease it had about a 1/16 of slop, post grease it was rock solid & smooth. Pretty sure all the 80's Ericsons have relatively the same set up so find the grease zerks and pump some grease in there. My zerks were serviceable but others have had to replace 1 or both. Not sure about others but my fittings were in the aft face of the tube so a pain to access, but minimal yoga compared to other projects :)
 

Pete the Cat

Sustaining Member
I have had bad luck with trying to shim rudder bearings. The shims eventually fall out, score the shaft, or seem to cause pitting due to dissimilar metals. I gave up on them. I have had very good luck with this fix on 2 boats. Lower the rudder a foot or so. Clean the post up with acetone or other effective solvent. Coat the rudder with mold release wax. Coat the exposed part of the rudder with much thickened epoxy (the high density stuff) over the mold release wax area. Jam the thing back in there and prop it in place with blocks. Clean up the mess and go home. You got yourself a new lower bearing surface that is hard as nails--high density filler seems harder than Delrin to work with tools and yet both posts turned easily when cured. The top bearing is generally an entirely different matter--generally involving a mechanical seal with flax, etc. But the lower bearing gets the major wear. FWiW.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I recall (and it's been over a decade) that West Systems used to publish a procedure like the one Ray references, and they used graphite powder mixed into the thickened epoxy. Wax the shaft generously...! And first check it for 100% trueness.
 
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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
As Dave says in #6, first pack the rudder tube full of grease. If the Zerk is shot (the grease nipple), install a new one. Lots of grease in the tube was an Ericson maintenance requirement, and often solves problems.
 

Shawn Brooks

Member II
Thanks for the info guys. Looks like a new zerk and a some grease is the low hanging fruit. I'll give that a shot. Is a particular kind of grease required? About how much?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Any marine grease, just pack it full. The tube can take 4 ounces or sometimes much more.

The end of this blog shows Zerk install. The issue is common, if you search "Zerk.

There is now a Master Thread, here.

 

peaman

Sustaining Member
Looks like a new zerk and a some grease is the low hanging fruit.
Be sure and get a stainless steel zerk instead of the more common zinc plated ones. I put 4 of the 4 oz tubes of grease in mine before deciding it was enough. The boat was on the hard, but I didn't see any grease coming out at either end of the rudder tube. Steering felt noticeably smoother afterwards.
 

daynardi

Member II
While installing stainless steel zerks, don't forget to install one in the bearing at the top, under the deck. The bushing attached to the deck had a pre-drilled hole but no grease fitting. I used a tap-in (non threaded) zerk and it fit perfectly. Access to the upper fitting involves a head-stand in the aft cockpit locker. The lower fitting is easily accessible from the pilot berth.
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
The bushing attached to the deck had a pre-drilled hole but no grease fitting.
That's unusual. From the factory, upper and lower bushings both had grease fittings. The lower one typically rusts out.
 

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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Yes, but the hardware could differ. I don't think my 32-3 upper had a Zerk. But I could ladle in grease at the cockpit cover plate.

E32-3 upper rudder post bearing .JPG
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
You sure that was a 32-3? My upper fitting is much different than yours. Four through-bolts plus four screws, rectangular pattern. My 32-3 is a 1985.
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
I was referring to the upper rudder bearing. Your photo shows one that is round and appears to be aluminum or stainless.

Mine is rectangular, appears bronze, and has a grease fitting.

Yours has four fasteners, mine has eight. Maybe that explains why you had problems with your upper fitting coming loose. Interesting that two 1985 boats used different parts.
 

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peaman

Sustaining Member
My 1987 32-3 upper bearing matches Christian’s. Image from forward port side. Zerk is on starboard side.

10D034CC-0A77-465F-83BC-1A561654E2B3.jpeg
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
Interesting. That's two against one. Will the real factory configuration please stand up?
 
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