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Systems:  Rudder Tube


During the initial demolition of the original fiberglass cockpit, I had carefully cut around the existing fiberglass rudder tube, even leaving a small section of the old cockpit sole in place for future measuring and reference purposes.

Once I had begun construction of the cockpit sole, I could finally go ahead and remove the upper portion of the old rudder tube, the section containing the old section of cockpit sole.  With a Sawz-All, I cut off the tube cleanly.

I needed to extend the rudder tube up higher; my cockpit design called for the tiller to mount at seat height, rather than sole height.  My first step to prepare for extending the rudder tube came shortly after I had cut the cockpit sole pieces, but before they were permanently installed.  Since the rudder tube would have to penetrate the cockpit sole, I'd need to cut a hole in the sole.

To locate the hole, I stuck a broom handle into the rudder tube from outside the boat.  I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of this, as it seemed to somehow be violating my lady (the boat).  I pushed the broom handle up until it contacted the bottom of the cockpit sole, and then marked the location with a pencil.

Removing the sole, I prepared to cut an opening.  With a bevel gauge, I measured the angle of the rudder tube, and then cut the opening in the  sole with a hole saw, holding the drill at the proper angle as determined by the bevel gauge.

When complete, I had a 2" hole roughly centered above the rudder tube, and was ready for the next step:  extending the tube itself. 


I found fiberglass tubing at McMaster-Carr, and ordered a 5' section of two different sizes:  1-1/2" ID (2"OD) and 1-1/4" ID (1-1/2"OD).  Not only did I need the smaller size for the propeller shaft stern tube later on in the project, but it would also work as an internal sleeve for extending the larger-diameter rudder tube.  I wasn't concerned about the reduction in internal diameter, as the original rudder tube was sleeved in several areas, and there was no way my new rudder post was going to end up larger than the 1-1/4" ID of the smaller tube anyway.

I cut off a 12" section of the smaller tubing for an internal sleeve, and then cut about 24" of the larger tubing to extend the rudder tube upwards.  I left this piece long for later trimming to exact size.  After checking the fit, I sanded the exterior of the smaller tube, and the lower portion of the larger tube to provide a bonding surface for the epoxy adhesive and tape to secure the pieces.

Next, I installed the smaller, internal tube, sliding it down into the existing rudder tube stump until about half of the length was inside.  After I had an inch or so inside, I coated the tube with thickened epoxy adhesive; I refrained from putting this on the end, lest it somehow manage to clog the inside of the tube at all.  Then, I spread more of the epoxy over the upper, exposed portion of the sleeve, and then slid the larger-diameter tube over it.  I smoothed the remaining epoxy spillout, and prepared to fiberglass the pieces in place permanently.

I wrapped the seam with two layers of 22 oz. biaxial fabric:  a strip of 4" tape, then a strip of 6" tape, each cut to the proper length to go around the tube once.  I rolled out the pieces and left the assembly to cure, after ensuring that the new section of tubing was straight and true.

When the new tabbing cured, I sanded it to remove raw edges, and then painted the tube up to the level of the eventual cockpit sole.  Later, after the sole was installed, I secured the tube where it passed through the sole, and faired it in seamlessly.

Please click here to go onto the rudder construction.>

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