Monday, November 25, 2013

Steer Clear

With a lot of our on-the-hard projects coming to a close, we've been taking the time to reflect on everything that we have done to Moitessier.  One of the more annoying projects that I'd consider the embodiment of the Rule of Three's involves the rudder shaft packing gland.  Some months ago, Frank went to replace the hose on our rudder shaft packing gland and repack at the same time. This simple project led to an onslaught (as usual) of other projects that we had not planned on undertaking.  To get to this area, our steering quadrant had to be removed, as well as the rudder bearing.  When he went to do this, he had discovered that the bearing on the rudder shaft had seized.  No matter how hard he tried, with liberal amounts of PB Blaster and brut force, this stubborn bearing was not going out without a fight.  After a frustrating few days in our "clubhouse" Frank finally decided that it needed to be cut out.  He was dreading having to do it this way as it meant using an angle grinder inches from his face while pretending to be a contortionist, but after an uncomfortable few hours, he finally managed to get it off.   After this fun debacle, he discovered that the plate that the bearing mounts on had also shat the bed.  Though it was stainless steel, it had still corroded to the point of needing replacement (yay to stainless steel on Hans Christians!), so that was another project added to our list that I will not bore you with.  From there, we bought a new bearing, which of course needed to be reamed out so it would fit properly back onto the rudder shaft as our shaft is neither metric or standard!  This was no small feat and was very discouraging as we couldn't figure out how this could be done accurately.  Since the collar of the bearing is made out of hardened stainless steel, no machine shop wanted to touch it as it would've required extensive hours of labor if it even could be done.  Now we're not talking about a huge difference here, simply a couple thousandths of an inch, just enough to make it not fit.  We had thought about heating the bearing and packing the shaft in dry ice.  This would've allowed us to temporarily enlarge the bearing and shrink the shaft, but it would've also meant that once the bearing was on and in place, with the temperatures equalized, that we would once again not be able to get it off without destroying it. Grrrrr.  We tried a Barry Hone, normally used to enlarge cylinders in engines, to no avail.  Eventually, we were able to find a friend at the yard who had a friend that specialized in rebuilding engines who was willing to give it shot.  He used a machine normally used for cutting engine cam shafts (also hardened steel) to get the job done.  This was a serendipitous twist of fate as Frank had only mentioned our dilemma to our friend in passing (thank you Darrell).

Old setup.  Note the "modified" cable attachment (welded on
L brackets)..  Apparently we aren't the only ones to
take issue with Edson's design 
New bearing and plate.  Old rudder stops
New rudder stops
New steering cable attachments
With this accomplished, we were finally able to get to the packing gland and do what we had originally planned on doing, which was to inspect the rudder shaft, replace the damn hose, and repack it!  While Frank was in that area, he had discovered that our radial drive had a large crack in it.  This was very alarming as this is the quadrant that steers our boat, and failure of this component would mean no steerage…:(  Upon looking around, we realized like most things on the boat, this steering system was ghetto rigged and hooked up improperly.  The stress crack that had formed was due to it having forces on it that it was not designed for.  So another expense and frustrating project was added to our list.  We worked with Edson, which was the same company that had made our first quadrant.  After discussing with a representative what we needed and giving him the information on our rudder shaft size and shape, a new one was on its way within a matter of a couple of weeks. That project was finally buttoned up a few weeks ago, with an aggravating few days of me in the clubhouse tightening and loosening nuts repeatedly and Frank atop fitting the radial drive on properly so that we could measure, cut, and install the steering cables.  What looked to be another straight forward project was complicated by the need to rethink the existing design.  Since it was installed improperly the first time, Frank had to start at square one with the new drive. What we originally had as "stoppers" were dinky little wooden squares that were used to stop the drive from continuing to turn when the rudder was hard over.  We decided that these were not beefy enough and made new ones by epoxying pieces of solid oak together to create hefty wooden blocks standing about 5" high.  After building these, it was a matter of fitting the drive on, and bolting the blocks into place.  This again was a challenge as the design of the radial drive was utterly asinine. It's hard to explain the design flaw, but because of the way it's cast,  basically it only allowed for an inch of adjustment on the steering cables.  Also, the way the cables were designed to be threaded through, it lead out to the bottom of the radial drive, and on our boat this meant only about 6"of space reaching at arms length wile upside-down.  We had thought about flipping it the other way around, but the space constraints on  Moitessier did not allow for that to be an option.  Had Edson enabled the wires to threaded through on either side of the drive rather than just one, we could've measured, cut, and adjusted them from the top within a matter of 20 minutes tops.  But since they didn't, it took us 2 solid days to disassemble, remeasure, re-cut, reassemble, disassemble, you get the picture.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!  Had someone thought this through a little better or had to actually install their design on a real live boat, I'm sure it would've been made differently.  And by differently, I mean correctly.   However I know by now that that may be simply too much to ask for…

Old Radial Drive.  Notice the crack highlighted
in red.  The steering cables are attached differently
than the new one as they were "modified".
New Radial Drive 
New set up
Notice the small space under the drive
Of course, 9 out of every 10 bolts that were removed broke.
And finally, new hose on the packing gland with proper hose clamps

1 comment:

  1. We feel your pain! In the quest to update our boats electrical and plumbing we have discovered that everything is like an onion... in order to do one task you have to remove up to a dozen other "layers" before you can get to the little 10 minute task you had originally planned.

    Thanks for the interesting posts and photos. We enjoy following along on your adventures as we work on our own!