Steering System Overhaul!
Well, we made it to the St. Augustine Marine Center for our first personal haul out (cost $300). Thankfully everything went uneventful, with the exception of a bent stanchion, woops! Now to get to work.
The first priority was to completely disassemble the entire steering assembly. Removing the steering wires was easy, removing the Edson steering quadrant was not. Lots of PB Blaster and patience was needed here as I didn’t want to break any bolts in the process. That would make for a bad day. After that was over, I removed the wooden block under the wheel and then attempted to remove the stuffing box. Not happening! The leverage points to release this thing are ridiculous. Imagine a monkey hanging upside down from the top of a tree to do something that requires twisting strength. Time to get some help!
The guys from the marina did manage to unscrew the stuffing box cap off where the flax lives, but try as they might were unable to get the remaining housing off. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option. After lots of PB blaster, days of waiting, several attempts and paying for 3 labor hours ($95 hr.) with no results, I decided it was time to demolition! Hey, I am starting to get pretty good at this demolition stuff by now.
Using a reciprocal saw and a harbor freight multi tool, (again hanging upside down like a monkey, no arms!) I managed to cut the saltwater seized stuffing box housing off. Unfortunately, as careful as I tried to be, I did nick the shaft a bit. The fun just never ends!
While waiting for our new Buck Algonquin stuffing box ($140 w/ Free shipping, yeah!!!), I reluctantly decided that I also needed to take care of our pathetic looking upper rudder bearing that had completely fallen down out of it’s housing and was now sitting loosely on top of the rudder. Ah, the joys of owning an old boat.
After much grieving and not wanting to grind out and remove the skeg boot (hidden under the fiberglass) to drop the rudder, I finally stumbled on other solutions. First, I tried cutting the stuffing box from just above rudder. This was working, but very slow going. Hmmm, what if we could fish it out with some wire from the top? Sure, once you get the surface corrosion off the rudder shaft section that is in the rudder stern tube. Don’t ask me how I come up with this stuff. It just so happens that a 1 1/2″ piece of pvc piping fits nicely into the stern tube so I glued some sandpaper (rubbery glue) to the bottom inside of the pvc pipe and sent the pipe down to do it’s thing. It worked! Finally I was able to fish out the remainder of the old and very worn rudder bearing from above with ease.
Fortunately, replacing the rudder bearing was easy enough as they simply used a standard 1 1/2” interior x 2” exterior 6” long cutlass bearing (paid $140 locally). After lightly sanding the inside walls of the stern tube, I gently tapped it down with two hammer tops. There are 3 set screw on top of the stern tube need to be drilled out and replaced as they were badly corroded. Got new larger SS set screws from Ace Hardware. Love that place!
The pintle bolt on the bottom of the rudder has been replaced with silicon bronze parts. Inspect these often as the saltwater had chewed up ours so bad that both the bolt head and the nut were missing!!!! Everything was being held together by a nub!
So now to repair the nicks on the shaft with some JB weld, lightly sand and put it all back together again. Hey, if we are lucky enough, maybe we can do some sailing before the year is over. Imagine that!
Señora del Mar