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 rudder skin cracking
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dalelargent
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146 Posts

Initially Posted - 10/05/2018 :  15:48:05  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi all,

I have an 89 C25 with a balanced rudder and am experiencing an issue.

The leading edge fiberglass skin has separated at the seam on the upper (dry) portion of the rudder...between the pintle brackets. I bet if I removed the brackets it would separate even more. By separating, I mean the seam on the leading edge of the rudder has opened-up and I can flex the seam open with my fingers on both sides.

It has also developed a 1.5" curved crack in the skin around the upper pintle on one side. None of this can be due to freezing, I believe, as it hasn't frozen around here yet.

I first noticed this while doing an early morning, slow speed motor back to the marina from an anchorage. I was sorta bored so spent some time examining components in the aft of the boat. While doing gentle course corrections, I saw the seam flex open and shut, no matter what way I turned. It almost looked like the entire upper portion of the rudder was slightly flexing, but I couldn't tell if that was an illusion due to the skin moving.

I removed the rudder and found no other evidence of issues or cracks or bulges. The lower half of the rudder seems perfect.

What's next? You should also know I have no fiberglassing experience or tools, but maybe its time to learn.

1989 c25 WK/TR #5838
1983 Vagabond 14

Sailynn
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USA
156 Posts

Response Posted - 10/05/2018 :  15:57:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Do the people who sold you the balanced rudder have a warranty? You didnt say how old the rudder is or if you were the original purchaser.

To get the best advise on repairing it even if its not under warranty I would take pictures and call them to come up with a plan.

Lynn Buchanan
1987 C25 SR/WK #5696
Sailynn
Nevada City, CA
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dalelargent
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USA
146 Posts

Response Posted - 10/05/2018 :  16:00:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The rudder came with my boat upon purchase 7 years ago. I had assumed it is original equipment, but don't really know.

1989 c25 WK/TR #5838
1983 Vagabond 14
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dalelargent
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146 Posts

Response Posted - 10/05/2018 :  16:39:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am also curious why there is a seam there to begin with?!? Why isn't that glassed over smooth and seamless?

1989 c25 WK/TR #5838
1983 Vagabond 14
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Mark Maxwell
Captain

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329 Posts

Response Posted - 10/05/2018 :  17:03:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Contact Catalina Direct Technical service for some ideas... they have seen a lot of different issues. The rudders are built in two halves. Iíve seen rudders split from freezing. Itís repairable, however, since you donít have any fiberglass experience you might want to have some help. Contact your local junior college (industrial skills) or even high school (if they still teach auto shop) and they may be an excellent source. An auto repair shop would be good but donít let them use bondo. There are YouTube videos on rudder repair...not specific to Catalina but fiberglass is fiberglass....can you post some pictures?


Mark-
'Impulse...í
1978 C25 #533 SR/DIN/FIN ~_/)~
Bakersfield, CA.
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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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3375 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  07:31:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
The rudder came with my boat upon purchase 7 years ago. I had assumed it is original equipment, but don't really know.

An 89 came with the balanced rudder.
quote:
I am also curious why there is a seam there to begin with?!? Why isn't that glassed over smooth and seamless?

Probably cost and the extra steps involved to do it. Think about it. The rudder has lasted almost 30yrs without the seam covered.

That said, I had the same problem with the same balanced rudder. My fix was to remove the pintles, Prop the rudder up then spread the seam open enough to pour warmed West systems G/Flex down into the rudder. You need to warm the G/Flex so it becomes very runny. I used a microwave for @ 10 seconds to warm the G/Flex. This worked very well and it ran all the way down into the voids using a surprising amount of G/Flex. I then laid the rudder on its side and put a brick on top to add some pressure as it cured. Rudders are flexible so G/Flex is the perfect product to use because when it is cured it is not brittle and remains slightly flexible. The fix worked very well and is still solid. I will add that even though the seam is open above the waterline I would guess that water sill got in there and will need to be dried out before any attempt to re glue the skin to the foam core.

Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound


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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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4145 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  09:00:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Scott, your approach sounds logical and has the added benefit of working out well. Iíd also agree the there could be quite a bit of water down inside the rudder since rain and seawater will find any opening. Drying out a wet rudder would take some time. I assume you let your rudder dry over the winter season in a warm, dry location?
After you filled the void with G/Flex, re-sealing the skin seems a little more complicated. Did you mix up epoxy and smear it under the skin first, then maybe strap or tape the skin down? Did any epoxy squeeze out?
Once the epoxy had cured, did you sand and smooth the surface?
I ask because I too have a balanced rudder on Passage and donít have any issues yet, but there is a barely visible crack in the seam on mine.
Iím planning to try MarineTex to seal it this winter, but Iíll check out G/Flex if it gets any worse.
BTW, at the end of the season when the boat goes up on the hard, before I do anything else I take my rudder and my compass off the boat and bring them home.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain Stratford & Milford, CT

Edited by - Voyager on 10/06/2018 09:12:56
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dalelargent
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146 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  10:04:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am thinking the G/Flex is what adheres the skin to the core, so no additional epoxy/adhesives needed. Is that correct, Islander?

Also, how much G/Flex do you think you used and what kind? I am unfamiliar with the product, so I went to WM online and found a vast line of products and sizes. (Hopefully I don't need the 50 gal drum at $8000!!! LOL!) I am wondering if the 650 is what I need.

I haven't pulled the skin back, but I don't think I have voids, per se. Just the opened seam, with the small crack in the glass on one side from flexing too much around the pintle bracket.

I am trying to imagine the lower portion of the seam getting enough adhesive in it. I mean that at some point down the rudder, the seam becomes secure, so I can only pull the seam open so far: more at the top and a decreasing angle toward the middle of the rudder until there is no gap. Perhaps I could angle the rudder some while pouring in that area hoping it will run down and in?

I also store the rudder inside all winter. Sails, cushions, pillows, electronics and tiller, too.

Thanks for the continued help! I am feeling less grumpy about this situation. :)

1989 c25 WK/TR #5838
1983 Vagabond 14
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dalelargent
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USA
146 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  10:06:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
BTW, I have a friend with a 1988 C25 which is on the hard. He offered me his rudder to use for the last few weeks of the season.

What are the odds the pintles will match up? Will my tiller likely match up as well?


1989 c25 WK/TR #5838
1983 Vagabond 14
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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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3375 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  10:18:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Drying out a wet rudder would take some time. I assume you let your rudder dry over the winter season in a warm, dry location?

I would say yes if It appears wet inside but in my case the delamination was caused by my pintle breaking with a loud bang and a large amount of shock sent through the rudder. Felt like someone hit the tiller with a sledge hammer. When replacing the pintle that is when I noticed the skin had delanminated so in my case the opening wasn't there long enough for it to get wet inside.
quote:
After you filled the void with G/Flex, re-sealing the skin seems a little more complicated. Did you mix up epoxy and smear it under the skin first, then maybe strap or tape the skin down? Did any epoxy squeeze out?

No need to smear, The G/Flex when heated ran down into the rudder like water. I only opened the seam about an inch and I think I used some toothpicks to hold it open. It wants to naturally spring back closed. I spread the seam open enough to have enough room to pour the G/Flex in. Then I removed the toothpicks and the opening self closes. I didn't use any clamps but I guess you could. I just laid it on its side and put a brick or two on it. Doing this squeezed the G/Flex all around in the void and I just wiped the seam with acetone to get any that was oozing out.







Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound


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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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3375 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  10:44:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
[quoteI am thinking the G/Flex is what adheres the skin to the core, so no additional epoxy/adhesives needed. Is that correct,][/quote]
Yep, Probably better that what ever they used if anything. They might have just relied on the wet foam expanding to stick to the fiberglass shell. I used a G/flex repair kit that has 2- 4oz bottles in it and it was plenty enough. The 650 is what you want.https://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=8694





Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound



Edited by - islander on 10/06/2018 11:19:08
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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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3375 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  11:29:48  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
I am trying to imagine the lower portion of the seam getting enough adhesive in it. I mean that at some point down the rudder, the seam becomes secure, so I can only pull the seam open so far: more at the top and a decreasing angle toward the middle of the rudder until there is no gap. Perhaps I could angle the rudder some while pouring in that area hoping it will run down and in?


Every situation is different. Hard to tell if you can utilize my fix exactly in your situation from this end of a computer so maybe you can put your own twist to it.

Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound


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Stinkpotter
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Djibouti
8008 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  19:34:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Did somebody by chance paint the rudder above the waterline? When I got mine, it came with a warning not to let the painted part be exposed to sun for long periods, since this would generate heat that would cause the foam core to expand and possibly crack the shell. Just a thought...

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-OUPV
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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dalelargent
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USA
146 Posts

Response Posted - 10/06/2018 :  21:49:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good question, but it is only painted below the water line. And it has been in cool mountain lake water.

1989 c25 WK/TR #5838
1983 Vagabond 14

Edited by - dalelargent on 10/06/2018 21:50:53
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redeye
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3265 Posts

Response Posted - 10/07/2018 :  11:08:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I did the same as islander without warming the G-flex and it has held for about 5 years . Warming it would have been even better.

left the rudder out in the sun to dry and then leveled the cracked area out and poured the gflex in.

Ray in Atlanta, Ga.
"Lee Key" '84 Catalina 25 SR/FK

Edited by - redeye on 10/07/2018 11:12:09
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