E35-3 rudder drop clearance


Member III
I need to replace my rudder bearing and thus drop the rudder this Spring. It looks like the rudder tube is only goes a few feet between the hull and cockpit floor, and the rudder is more than a foot off the ground already, so, do I just need to dig a foot or so down? That seems just too simple is why I ask. Anyone drop an E35-3 rudder on the hard here? Not obvious how far to dig looking in older threads.

Also, while checking out the tube, there seems to be about a 1/2 quart of yellow epoxy blotched on to the forward lower part of the rudder tube, perhaps where a zerk use to be? There's no glass in the epoxy (its almost clear) so I am very curious why a PO (obviously not the work of a pro) would have globbed it on so thick. For a structural fix, it should have been glass taped around the tube and to patch a leaky zerk fitting, just a few tablespoons would do. I'd like to get rid of all that epoxy and check the tube's condition and repair it right if needed but... how to get all that epoxy off? Not like I can (or want) to get a belt sander down there.. can barely get my hand in there.

I don't think that area of the tube is really structural at all, just the bottom part (bearing) gets the side loads from the rudder and the bearing under the cockpit floor takes the opposing load, but I bet it wants to be water-tight. Should I leave this alone and paint it white to not worry about it or chisel away and perhaps cause more damage.. hmm.

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
If you can't get a grinder in that small space, would a Dremel tool with the right attachment allow you to remove that epoxy? I would not use a chisel, as I think the shock force could cause damage. If neither works, I would prefer to leave it and paint it than to try for a cosmetic fix that could cause more problems, unless the current arrangement is not working for some reason.

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Our rudder was dropped out for inspection by the boat yard once. But the boat was on jack stands. If you measure the distance inside from hull to the top of the shaft, just below the emergency tiller access plate on the sole of the cockpit you will have a pretty good idea of now much space below the blade will be needed for the rudder to lower enough to clear the hull. If your yard will allow some pick-n-shovel work you can do this. I have seen it done. Heck, one guy that used to own a small yard in PDX needed a year to refurbish his old two-ton class fixer-upper... so he dug out a 7 foot deep slot and lowered the hull and keel down into it! Much easier to access the interior and the deck. :)

As for your 'glob' of resin on the tube inside, difficult now to guess at the reason. If you are concerned about strength you could sand it smooth all around with 40 grit, and wrap some bi-ax around it and tabbed down onto the hull. Do follow Christian's lead and have working lube "zerk" fittings up and down the tube inside.


Member III
I took some pictures today. It kind-of looks like there is a hole where a zerk fitting would be in the middle of the goop.

Tin Kicker

Member III
This looks like a botched fix for one of several things. First guess is that even if there should be no twisting moment in that area, there may've once been if the rudder shaft was side loaded when the rudder was only held by this part during rudder removal/install. That could've cracked the glass and this was an attempted fix. Another less likely possibility is that the bearing seized. Third guess is that this was a bad idea on how to fix a leak. Dunno, but in any case, it's not a good job.

The key question is whether to fix it or let a sleeping dog lie?

My thought would be to leave it. If I were feeling ambitious or closer inspection gave cause to repair it, I'd get in there with a finger sander* to clean it as much as possible and remove the raw resin, then wrap it in wet glass.

* (Finger sander)


Member III
exactly... in fact I bought a finger sander yesterday on the way to take that pic, but got caught up in an autopilot wiring issue. I'll try to get it removed and properly fixed if I can when I drop the rudder. I am wondering about adding a zerk there. Wouldn't a metal zerk fitting expand/contract with temp and work is way out of the fiberglass tube? Or does it have some notch in it to lock it in? Hate to add another hole below the waterrline to worry about

Speaking of autopilot wiring, I could start another thread, but maybe someone reading this would have input: I got an ev100 setup from Raymarine, and it has an "ACU-100" unit that controls the motor and gets power from the breaker. It has a p70 seatalk ng control head networked in. The thing is, the ACU-100 doesn't power the seatalk network, but my Plotter does, so the autopilot only works when the plotter is on. That's OK. but it is working event when the autopilot breaker is off! Including powering the wheel motor from that (i.e the boat steering motor is powering from the seatalk network cable! how hot will that little red wire get?). I've added a seatalk power cable off the autopilot breaker now so the net is powered up by autopilot and/or the plotter which I hope is OK, but I kind-of think the ACU-100 should be smart enough to not use the seatalk power to run the motor. Thinking I should pull the red seatalk wire off the ACU-100 to avoid that? I'll call Raymarine and ask on the week day. This can't be an unusual combo of Raymarine kit.


Member II
I will look for the work around for the Raymarine. Ran through the same issue installing same unit on a previous boat. Raymarine wasn’t much help but had found the solution on a blog. All I remember is you can’t power the unit with the sea talk cable, needs to be powered separately, you will need to feed several power sources for the System. Hopefully its not with the boat as that ones locked in too.

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Wouldn't a metal zerk fitting expand/contract with temp and work is way out of the fiberglass tube? Or does it have some notch in it to lock it in? Hate to add another hole below the waterrline to worry about
Zerks are threaded fittings. I drilled + tapped + epoxied mine into place, but you can also just drill + epoxy into place. Stainless zerks can be hard to find.
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Member III
Follow up: After emptying the aft laz I confirmed that there is a zerk in the lower part of the rudder tube, pointing aft. I thought I could get to the goop better from the back but I just can't fit. I need to hire a small kid with a penchant for sanding epoxy. I can probably get to it lying on my belly from the front if I take out the water heater which I might need to do to get the pedestal done and get to the rudder bolts to drop the rudder... painful, since it looks like the stbd laz opening had been modified with an arc-cutout to get the heater in there I can already picture a lot of new yoga positions.

Also, wrt. the auto-pilot wiring. I posted the issue on the Raymarine forum and within a few days got a call from Raymarine. They thought the unit was malfunctioning and said to ship if for servicing. We also discussed powering the Seatalk network and it turns out the way my original power wiring directly off of the plotter's power isn't really proper. The network should have its own breaker, so I rerouted that and it magically fixed the autopilot issue (where it would run the wheel motor in response to the control head even with the actuator power off). Still scratching my head thinking of why that would fix it but it does make sense to have the network on its own breaker, so I can run the speed/depth which are network powered even with the plotter and pilot off.

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Blogs Author
I did a lot of work on the 32-3 rudder area, which is indeed awkward (I;m 6'1"). I recall the trick was unscrewing the water heater and pushing it 6-12" aside. I think that was the best access. On the 38, to work down there, I removed the nearby hoses entirely. Such temporary deconstruction can be less trouble than it looks and greatly improves the experience.

By the way, if you;re not satisfied with the neatness of the lazarette opening, you can clean it up with a jigsaw. Sawing a straight line in the glass is easy, and the result is a clean edge that doesn;t need any further treatment.

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