Spade rudder installation


New Member

OMG, I think I just figured out how to post on here:)

I am going to be installing my rudder on my Ericson 23 MK1, 1969 sailboat. The rudder came with the boat although I do not think that it is the original. It weighs a ton! I am in the process of fiberglassing and Q-celling the surface. There were many large gouges and blisters on it.

My questions is: Do I just put the rudder shaft in the cockpitt hole and call it a day? I'm sure that's not right :confused: It would seem to me that water would go up into the shaft to the water line once we put the boat in the water. The cockpitt shaft is made of fiberglass and starts at the base of the cockpitt and then out the hull...... The Spade rudder has a long metal tube that fits tightly through the fiberglass shaft with no additional room.

Im new at this :eek:

Any feed back would be greatly appreciated. cockpit.jpgshaft.jpghull.jpgspade rudder.jpgtop connection.jpg


Innocent Bystander
The rudder simply hangs from the bronze rudder "head" which is bolted through the tube in at least one place and rotates on the bolted-down escutcheon in your last photo. Before putting the rudder in the tube I would suggest cleaning any old grease out of the tube with a rag soaked in acetone, and putting a medium coat of fresh grease around the tube right before you slide it back in.

As long as you've got it apart you might want to check that you have solid balsa core material around those escutcheon mounting holes. (Maybe you already did this.) My '69 32 had soggy core here several years ago and although I dug out a lot of wet balsa and plugged them with epoxy, I suspect the degraded core in all of the cockpit floor was due to these points of entry.

I have found it worthwhile to remove the rudder at the end of the season, cleaning up the shaft and tube, and storing the rudder indoors for the winter.


New Member
Aloha Tenders,

Wow, That's it!? I just clean the fiberglass shaft with Acetone, Grease, and then slid rudder post in. I don't need to epoxy, barrier coat or anti-foul paint? The rudder shaft seems like unfinished fiberglass. My boat is going to be moored year round. The boat was kept out of water for the last 20 years.

Winter... I haven't seen winter since my last trip to Maine :rolleyes: The weather is 80's and 90's 365 days a year :nerd:.

I'm assuming when you say Balsa Core your talking about the screw holes solidity. I filled most holes with Micro balloons and then we are going to drill new ones or tap back into the filled holes.

When you say that you remove your rudder for winter. How do you clean the shaft and Grease while it's in the water? Wouldn't you end up with water in the hole?

Thank you :D


Innocent Bystander
Oh, you're in THAT Maui!

You don't have to do anything special inside the rudder post sleeve. There isn't enough room for critters to grow in there. Of course you'll need to paint the hull and rudder with antifoulant and it will help to paint the hooks and crannies before the rudder goes in.

...unless the metal post turns out to be sloppy inside the shaft due to wear. Then you might want to wrap the metal post with a thin sheet of Mylar, or wax the clean shaft and put epoxy thickened with graphite additive to fill in the slop. Gougeon Brothers has some nicely-illustrated guides on how to do this with their West System epoxy. But this is unlikely, if you find it's a problem after launching put it on the list for next haul out.

By balsa core I mean the stuff between the fiberglass layers. It's wood and if it's wet, rotten, or weak a lot of the strength of the deck is gone. The problem will get worse and the solution will become exponentially more involved over time. There's a lot of info about this in the Gougeon guides for epoxy repair.