Rudder Stop Blocks

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December 2005 --

While pulling the steering and cleaning up under the cockpit, I found this damaged stop block.
It keeps the rudder from turning too far.
A little peg on the radial steering quadrant hits it.

Obviously, the little peg didn't just hit it,
but at one time really slammed into it. Most likely
someone let the wheel loose while backing the boat up.

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I sealed up all the access hatches
under the cockpit, and put a tarp over the area under the companionway to keep dust from blowing back into the boat.

Lots of air made it into the engine room area around the edges.

On this particular day I was also sanding and grinding
the entire area under the cockpit.
Since the engine and fuel system
(and just about everything else) is out of the boat,
I'm cleaning it up to paint it.

One of my favorite tricks when making a dusty mess
inside the boat is to stick a fan over a hatch,
blowing air full blast into the boat.
With all hatches closed, it creates
a lot of positive air pressure.

The only place for air to exit the boat was through the access hatch at the stern. All the air and dust blew back and out this hole. It worked incredibly well, and the by the time I was done the cockpit was covered in dust.

Although I wore a full suit, goggles and respirator,
very little dust got onto me, and
I never needed to clean off my goggles.

Grinding the old gelcoat off
was a real challenge.
Even with everything out of the way,
reaching this spot was very difficult.
It's not pretty. So what.
I'm never going to see it again.

It was clear that the blocks were just tabbed on with a single layer of mat, and covered in gelcoat. That should have been strong enough, so it must have taken one heck of a whack.
I ground the tabbing away on both sides,
down (up?) to the actual sole laminate.

Note the visible gap between the wood block and the sole. This definitely was damaged,
and I'm glad I caught it.

If grinding back here was tough, epoxying fiberglass was even tougher.

I made a medium thick putty of epoxy and colloidal silica, and used a syringe to fill the crack between the block and the sole. It took about 2/3 of a syringe, so I'm sure the area is packed. Then I made a super thick putty and laid fillets down both sides. Finally I laid two layers of
Knytex tape from Tap Plastics
over the entire area, and
worked it on with a tiny slotted roller.

Note that I made a mistake:
The second layer of glass should have overlapped the first, but I'm two inches short on this side.

I didn't learn about that until I had the repair done, and even if I had known I'm not sure that my results would be any better. I wasn't going to pull that block off and remake it from scratch.
I have to get the fuel system, the steering, and the new engine back in, and I only have four months left.

I'm going to put a super heavy piece of hose over the peg on the radial steering quadrant,
as a shock absorber. Also, when I'm done rebuilding the cockpit sole, I'll have an inspection port that will actually let me inspect that part of the steering system, and do preventive maintenance.

Here's how they look when
sanded down and painted.

Actually, Rudder Stop Blocks should be perfectly vertical, so that the stud on the radial steering hits them squarely.
That avoids putting a twisting torque
on the steering system if you
slam the steering into the stop block.

In this case, my epoxy fillet along the deck joint actually increased the angle of attack when the steering stop peg hits the block.
Sorry. I'm not doing it over.

Knytex tape is great stuff.
It has two layers of unidirectional fabric laid perpendicular,
then sewn over a layer of mat.

Pulling off and doing it over would have made one heck of a mess, since I'm doing all this work
with one hand. The tape overlaps on the other side, although that side won't get any stress.
Actually, the whole thing shouldn't get any stress, if the boat is handled properly.
In any case, it's a heck of a lot stronger than it was when the boat was built.
While I was back here, I ground down the other block and taped it up as well.
Once the steering and tank is back in, I don't think I'll ever be back here again.