Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Poor Poor Rudder

In order to repair the damage done to our rudder it had to come off, which first required digging a 4 foot hole.

Then the gudgeon had to be removed to release the rudder.   After a couple hours of pounding out the drift pins with a sledge hammer it came off.  Albeit a bit bent and cracked.

With the gudgeon off, the rudder slid right out.

Then we stripped off the barrier coat (two part epoxy coating) and bottom paint (62.5% copper).  Serious paint requires serious stripper.  We used Klean-Strip Aircraft Paint Remover.  Don't use it without a respirator and skin protection, it's nasty stuff. And it burns upon skin contact.  However it's more effective, and much cheaper than Interlux stripper, or any other we found.
The obligatory gloving up picture.

We applied the caustic gel with paint brushes.  It turned the paint to wipe-able sludge in a couple minutes.
I sanded the rest of the barrier coat off down to bare fiberglass.  The white strip at the bottom of the rudder is a fiberglass tape repair from a previous owner.

The person we hired to paint our boat bottom hacked a huge portion off of the bottom of the rudder, then told us no water drained out.  As you can see here, no water drained out because they didn't cut all the way through the fiberglass into the foam core.  They just destroyed the bottom of the rudder with a grinder.  They were supposed to drill a couple small holes in the bottom to let it drain.  Lesson: Never ever assume anyone has any idea what they are doing, even if they live in a boat yard and have made their living working on boats for 25 years.  Makes your heart hurt don't it?


Under the paint we found even more "repairs" we weren't told about.  They chipped off just as easily as the epoxy smears on top of the paint.  We were wondering why the rudder was so lumpy after a paint job.  I could see the the yard guys getting nervous as I sanded the paint off.
The rudder is fiberglass over a foam core and stainless steel webbing.  We are going to fully wrap the rudder in glass. But first the gashes needed to be filled with something that would adhere to foam to prevent the glass from sagging while it cures.   I filled them with spray can insulation foam.  We'll see if that works. The sun is so intense it's been hard to get clear pics of anything. In fact the UV rating is so high I've been tanning through my clothes. Underwear tan lines, for real.
Once the foam cured and expanded I cut of the raised portion with a mini saw blade.  Then we leveled it best we could with thickened epoxy before I laid strips of glass over the holes with un-thickened epoxy.

The sun was so intense that bubbles kept forming in the glass while it cured. We moved it into the shade to try and keep the sun from warping it too much. But it couldn't be entirely prevented. We're going to have to cut off the bubbles and re-patch it.  Maybe we can find a cooler UV free location for the full glass wrap...

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