By Tom Assenmacher

Last year we removed the rudder from our 1975 MK-II sloop SHEARWATERfor repairs (procedure is similar to rudder removal on the MK-I. Itís not too difficult a job, just takes time and a couple of helpers:

1. Have the travel-lift raise the boat as high as possible (keel must be 3-4' above the ground - you have to lower the long rudder stock clear of the boat - you may want to measure the distance where it enters the boat just above the prop to the top of the rudder post in the cockpit to determine the height the boat must be raised.

2. Remove the tiller head in the cockpit (loosen set screw and tap gently to remove).Be sure to not lose the bronze key which fits in the rudder stock keyway.

3. Mark the position of the rudder quadrant on the rudder shaft with an indelible marker to reference its position upon re-installation.Loosen the steering cables and remove the rudder quadrant.Also loosen the rudder stuffing box.Access is fairly good from the port cockpit, and also from the starboard cockpit if you have a cut-out in the starboard cockpit locker.Now is a good time to replace the rudder stuffing with new packing.It takes 1/4" packing.

4. Remove the rudder shoe which is attached with 1/4" bronze flat head machine screws.Replace with new ones as electrolysis probably has taken its toll.

5. Remove the center gudgeons - ditto on the bronze screws.

6. Remove the prop and prop shaft - this will probably be the most difficult part of the project.Also, you will probably need to remove the cutless bearing casting just in front of the prop, as the rudder probably will not clear the casting (it wouldnít on SHEARWATER).When we pulled the rudder on SHEARWATER, we already had the prop, shaft and cutless bearing housing removed from the boat - when we finally reinstalled the rudder (we had re-installed the cutless bearing casting, along with a new stern tube) we discovered that the rudder would not clear the cutless bearing casting, and had to remove the rudder again.It only lacked a very small amount of clearance , probably less than 1/2" inch, but we had to remove the stern tube along with the cutless bearing casting (held in by 2 5/16" bronze bolts).While you have the stern tube out of the boat, be sure and check it for electrolysis - along with the cutless bearing casting bolts.Now you can remove the rudder - it's pretty heavy, and you need 2 people to remove it.

7.Check the end pin and hole in the rudder shoe for wear - it's supposed to be 5/8" diameter.On Shearwater, the hole in the shoe was not worn appreciable, but the pin was worn somewhat.I cut the pin off flush with the rudder stock.Drilled and tapped the stock for a 5/8" bronze bolt (to the depth of the threads on a 5/8" bronze bolt - (about 2 1/2"), then installed the bronze bolt. I then cut the bolt off at about 5/8" (check the shoe check the hole depth).If you are redoing the rudder stuffing box packing, fit the new packing on the rudder stock and form it into the stuffing while the rudder is out of the boat and is easily accessible - it's a lot easier than trying to repack it in the confined area under the cockpit.

8.Do any other required repairs.

9.Re-install the rudder, gudgeon, shoe, attach the quadrant, re-adjust the steering cables, and reinstall the tiller head stock fitting (donít forget to install the bronze key in the rudder stock keyway).If you are repacking the stuffing box, you will probably need someone inside the port cockpit locker to place the stuffing box end on the rudder stock as it emerges from the rudder tube.Snug up the rudder stuffing box and tighten the stuffing box lock nut. This is also a good time to check the steering cable sheaves and sheave pins for wear.

10. Good luck and be safe!!

(When we pulled the rudder on SHEARWATER, we could find no water at all - did several exploratory drillings - all came up dry).