Several years ago I found a crack down the length of the leading edge rudder of my 42' boat when hauled for the winter. Water ran out for several days. I glassed it over in the spring, but this winter past a large bump about 8" diamiter and 1" high formed in the upper portion of one side.
I am heading to the caribean in 2 yr. and don't think I should trust the rudder off shore. Any thoughts? Can any one recomend a repair facility I can ship the rudder to for repair or replacement?
Orlando, it sounds as though the water in the rudder may have frozen during a winter lay-up and caused some delamination (a separation of the fiberglass skin from the rudder's coring) probably a foam core. You're correct in wanting to repair/replace the rudder very soon and prior to any offshore work. There should be a number of good shops or boatyards capable of doing the job correctly depending on where the boat is laid-up. There are companies that specialize in building new rudders and based on the material used (composites) can become expensive. Take a look at Composite Solutions http://www.csi-composites.com/ and also review Foss Foam www.newrudders.com
Hope this is helpful
i had a problem with a delaminating rudder on a 28 year old sailboat. water had entered at the top rudder post bearing and the foam was delaminating. drips came out at the bottom trailing edge when the boat was hauled. the test for this foam delamination is that you observe clear drips out of the rudder bot tom as the boat dries out on the hard. if the drips taste like vinegar , foam delamination is definately your problem, as the previous poster observed. inside the rudder are usually found metal fingers that support the foam rudder proper. if you are lucky you can reuse the stainless steel fingers and repair the foam yourself by drilling out the soft weepy sections till you get solid foam. if a patch repair will not do, s when there is major foam damage around the rudder bearings or posts, a whole new rudder costing many boat units is your option. while the rudder's off check the rudder post and bearings. and hope you can drop the rudder in the yard without digging a hole to accomodate it, as some ill designed boats require. google rudder repair and you can figure out if this is a job you' want to tackle yourself...the problem with handing over this job to a yard is that they may bill $1000 of labor just to investigate whether you need a new rudder or a repair.
Do you live near a major airport. If so, ask around and see if you can find an aircraft mechanic that does composite work. We call this type of work "G" (government) job. Slang for off the books work. To properly fix this you will need to open it up and inspect the core material.
Vacuum bagging the rudder with heat will boil out the water if it is not in horable condition. However if in bad shape a good composite guy can open up the rudder clean out the damaged area. Then replace the core and step grind the remaining fiberglass to splice in the new glass. Do not opt for carbon fiber unless that was a material the rudder was built with. If you do have the choice, I would opt for a few layers of kevlar, and all layers of glass should be woven. Although a filler layer of mat would not be that bad. I would then layer the glass in alternating ply pattern till built back up to orriginal look with the final plys covering the whole rudder.
Usually problems with adhering layers of glass come from not properly stepping the repair. And the total repair area should be sanded with 150 grit, cleaned well, and the repair made at 1 time.
Foss Foam makes great replacement rudders at a reasonable price. In fact they manufacture for quite a few builders and have most molds available. They can also custom fabricate anything.