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Thread: Rudder Head Assembly and Rig-Rite Inc

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Chesapeake Bay

    Rudder Head Assembly and Rig-Rite Inc

    Hey all,

    My tiller has a bit of play in it, it always has, and I'm considering trying to fix it. As far as I can tell there's a bit of movement both between the straps that attach the tiller to the rudder head, and between the rudder head and the rudder stock itself. Has anyone dealt with this before? Any idea what the diameter of the rudder stock is? Rig Rite Inc has some cast bronze replacement parts that look promising, anyone have experience with them? Thanks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    San Francisco
    There are other threads on this topic, but as I have recently completed this process here it is:

    1) There may be slop in the rudderstock to rudder connection, especially if it is original. We replaced the rudderstock. It is 1" diameter bronze. Built a new rudder in the process, but you might not have to. Steering was better, but we still had slop.
    2) Slop between the tiller straps and head: can be fixed by upsizing the through-bolt.
    3) Slop between the tiller head and rudder stock: likely requires a new key, as the keyway is worn, McMaster-Carr sells "oversized" key stock, just slightly larger than spec, worked a charm, cut it yourself with a hacksaw: Oversized 18-8 Stainless Steel Machine Key Stock, 1/4" x 1/4", 12" Long costs $4.50
    4) If the tiller head does not clamp down around the rudderstock tightly, you may get wiggle which I imagine will soon wear your keyway further. Use bronze shim-stock to cut a rectangular shim and wrap it around the rudderstock (leaving a gap for the key). McMaster also sells this, I bought the smallest bit i could: Shim Stock Sheet, 510 Bronze, 6" Wide x 25" Long, 0.0160" Thick, cost me $26. I now have 6"x23" of it left, seems like enough to shim the tiller heads of 12 more ariels/commanders. Happy to snip some off with a scissors and mail it to you.

    i doubt you need a new bronze tiller-head fitting, the old ones are lovely, bronze is soft and might have stretched a bit after 50 years

    A lot of work but its worth it


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    San Rafael, CA
    bottom of this post]

    Added two 316 #10 set screws behind the key/keyway,
    which puts tension on the key, and also the socket.
    Depending on what you have, I cut a new key full
    length of the keyway including the slope if it has one.
    This will help keep the key from moving. The slot
    on mine, like yours, is truncated. worn more at the top
    than bottom. I also bought wider key material to
    shape for the hole, but chickened-out and went just
    with 1/4" material and the TWO #10 setscrews..

    Added two extra 1/4" setscrews thru the sides of the
    socket. The 316 setscrews have cone-shaped points
    that engage cone-shaped dimples in the rudder stock.

    It may be difficult to find the correct thickness of
    shim material, and to fit it with the large setscrews.

    Rudder seated in its shoe and the tillerhead carefully
    centered on the rudder stock with the rudder blade
    centered on the boat. With a #7 bit on the east-west
    axis, drill thru the socket and slightly into the rudder
    stock on both sides. [BUT let's say here, not thru the
    whole 1" stock, altho it could come to that!]
    Take the tillerhead off the stock and drill chamfer cone
    shapes into the stock using the drill bit locators. You'll
    probably use 3/8" length 1/4 hex socket setscrews.
    Thread the new holes in the socket. Make sure screws
    stick out a bit, there's few enuf threads in the socket side.

    Not only have we 'attached' the tillerhead to the rudder
    shaft, we have made it difficult to accidently lift the
    whole assembly off rudder shaft. Too possible before!
    Also have new sleeve bearing and O-rings that help a lot.
    Thing is you have to remember the FOUR setscrews
    when it's time to disassemble the rudder system. Some
    people won't be aware they're there -- & create havoc.
    That little 5/16" 'bolt' on the tillerhead socket: you can
    imagine the designer's idea was to be able to draw the
    split socket together using that bolt. Bolt too small.
    Cleaned out the slot that separates the two 'ears' and
    tried with a clamp to draw them closer. Didn't work.
    But that BOLT IS NOT A BOLT. Notice the hexhead
    cap screw threads into the thicker side, it free slips
    thru the thinner side. I don't think you ought drill a
    larger hole thru this tight area. Leave it alone.

    That screw, if it is original, is without threads all the
    way thru to the tapped hole in the ear. It's a special
    tool. You can custom a replacement with a 316 5/16"
    bolt (not capscrew) that is partially threaded, and has
    unthreaded shank under the hex cap. I would try
    TOP NOTCH FASTNERS www.tnfastners.com, because
    you may ask them to measure the bare shank on what
    ever length bolt they have in stock that will do what the
    old bronze does, and just tailor the threaded end to fit.
    There are no bronze 5/16" bolts. Do Not Use Brass.
    For integrity of the split cap, always have it fastened.
    of rudder stock.)
    The tiller bolt is another that goes thru pretty slender
    material. A larger bolt won't gain any advantage. And
    two larger holes, is counter-productive. Ahemm.

    Problem is discussed in an archived Forum Technical
    *TILLER DISCUSSIONS Pg 3, Pg 45 & Pg 53.

    There's more meat in the tiller 'ears', as I rushed thru
    I saw bushed holes, and I would assume that 'bushing'
    the holes for same size bolt in the tiller head is a way
    to go, but difficult.
    Maybe better is to weld shut the holes and just redrill
    them new to the original bolt size. Take care you drill
    them EXACTLY where they were before!! .EXACTLY.
    You'll notice that the higher the tiller is lifted for steering,
    the less flat metal to metal advantage there is at the
    socket perched there on top of the rudder stock -- and
    more strain there is on the bolt alone. I had a more
    radical S-curve tiller laminated that allows steering with
    the tiller in its resting down position. Also is above knees
    sitting in the cockpit, mostly. And housed straight up
    isn't any different than the almost straight original tiller.
    in this case CHOOSE: TECHNICAL. Brings up current list. TOP OF LIST ON RIGHT, CURSOR go to: Search Forum,
    SMALL MENU APPEARS....CHOOSE SEARCH in dark black on far right, not the Search… with dotted lines in box.
    YOU WILL BE IN THE ARCHIVES which will only be obvious because the posts are in HIGHLIGHTED BLUE and
    there will be extra pages to scroll thru. YOU WILL TAKE YOUR CLUES FROM POST TITLES for content matter.
    Last edited by ebb; 08-06-2020 at 02:08 PM. Reason: (MMC has bronmze)

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