Removing the cockpit sole bearing

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November 2005 --

With the engine out,
the steering out,
and the fuel tank out,
I can focus on the cockpit sole.

I'll need to pull the thrust bearing
at the top of the rudder post, to recore around it,
so first I jacked the sole up to make it level.
It had sunk a bit over the years as the sole rotted out, and a bit more in the last week as I was removing core in the sole.
I put the jack on the backing plate for the bearing.
It went up about 3/8 inch before the sole was level.
I wrapped a section of exhaust hose around the rudder post, and clamped it down tight, and removed the jack. Now the rudder is supported by the clamp, not the bearing,
and the bearing should be free.

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I picked up this rubber strap wrench a while back
because it seemed perfect for adjusting the "donut"
at the top of the rudder post.

Prior to this, I've just wrapped a piece of exhaust hose around it and used an oil filter wrench. At the moment, that piece of exhaust hose has found a new job,
so I'm glad I bought this wrench.

There are two hex-head bolts in the "donut"
that have to be loosened before it will turn.

Under the donut,
there's a small bearing.

I think it's
Oil Impregnated Nylon (OIN).

This will be a good time to replace it, so the search is on for sources.

I wonder if I should make it thicker or wider.

Note that it doesn't really hug the rudder shaft, but does
support the entire weight
of the rudder and radial steering.

(Gee, every time I see a picture of my own hand I'm shocked.
I was 21 just yesterday...)

The top bearing is just a bronze sleeve.
It doesn't appear to be the least bit worn, so thankfully I can clean it up and reuse the entire assembly.
I see evidence of grease, but not much.
Fortunately, I have two other main bearings in the rudder post below decks, and this bearing is just there to hang the rudder and provide a mount
for the emergency tiller.

This bearing should have lots of grease,
if only to keep water out.
I have no idea how to maintain the grease in this bearing, without occassionaly dropping the rudder. Something to think about
before putting it back together.

I've seen no evidence of caulk, other than four small dabs of silicone (the white spots.) That's wierd.
That certainly would have let a bunch of water in around this bearing.

There are four bolts holding the bearing to the sole,
and four more holding the backing plate in place underneath.

Getting them off involved the usual few hours of gymnastic sweating and cursing. It would have been impossible with the steering in the boat, so when I put this back together I'm going to really need to think about how to make it leak proof forever.

Leaks around this bearing ran down over the radial steering wheel and directly onto the fuel tank.
I don't want that to happen any more.

With the bearing out, and the rudder completely supported by that clamp underneath, I'm ready to grind the rest of the cockpit sole out and replace the core. I'm not going to put wood here, but will use a piece of solid FRP for core.
That way, if it does leak again, it won't rot.

It's wierd, but I could find
no evidence of caulk around the bearing
or on the backing plate. I'll change that!

With all my other projects this winter,
I can replace the bearing, caulk the living heck out of it and let a good thick pad of caulk cure for quite some time while I'm working on all the stuff under the cockpit sole. Then when I fnally remove that clamp down below, the weight of the rudder and steering will compress the fully cured gasket and keep it leak free.

I hope.

On the top, one can see
that the new OIN (or Delrin AF) plate can't really be any wider, because it would then scrape over the top of these bolts as it moved.

Possibly I could use flush head bolts
and grease the heck out of it.

Something else to think about.