Calling Jim Cleary

Discussion in 'Main Morgan 38 Sailboat Forum' started by terry_thatcher, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Jim: If I recall, you replaced your rudder with a 384 rudder. I am contemplating the same, not because of rudder shape, but because my rudder is 40 years old. The folks at Attainable Adventure Cruising have scared me about such an old rudder. I hope to go offshore again soon.


    If you did replace the rudder, did it fit without a hitch? Were the holes for the gudgeons in the right place and the rudder stock long enough? Did it have a hole on the top of the rudder stock to firmly attach the emergency rudder? Have you had any problems with it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Terry

    We replaced our 382 rudder with a 384 rudder in 2007. It was ordered and built by Foss Foam in Florida who were the original builders of the Morgan rudders. The reason for the switch was because the original rudder was weeping rust from the area of the gudgeon. I was afraid that the Stainless Steel tangs that were welded to the shaft inside the rudder were failing and that could cause the rudder to fail at a rather bad time in the future. After a couple of mistakes, Foss Foam finally got the job done correctly. First they sent me a new 382 rudder when I ordered a 384 model. Next they sent my rudder to Texas with another group of new rudders. After all that was straightened out the rudder fit perfectly. I did not order the hole for the emergency rudder because the tiller arm of my autopilot blocks the area where the hole needs to be. My thought is that if something on the pedestal and wheel fails, the autopilot will be able to steer the rudder. Besides that, I tested using the piping for the emergency tiller and found it a bear to use in calm conditions. In heavy seas and high winds it would be damn near impossible. My other observation was that with the extra area on the new rudder at the top of the rudder, I have found little or no difference in the performance of the boat. The amount of weather helm was basically the same with both rudders and is best reduced with balancing the sails.

    I hope this helps you with your decision.

    Jim
     

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  3. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Terry

    I'm pretty sure Foss Foam will drill the hole for the emergency rudder if you want them to. For $$$ of course.

    Jim
     
  4. Travis

    Travis Member

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    Terry,
    Your point about the rudder being 40 years old is valid, and Jim is probably correct that if it were to fail, it would be at the welded joint. I am by no means trying to talk you out of the replacement, but while we are on the subject I thought I would share my experience since I went through the same thought process during this haulout and ended up going a different way with it. I knew that I wanted more rudder, but like Jim, I was concerned with the integrity of those ‘tang’ weldments to the rudder shaft. Well, I found a drawing that somewhat put my mind at ease, and we elected to stick with what we had.
    9D7E7DC8-ADED-41D6-A2FC-3EE515EEAAAC.png

    Once I saw that it was 9”x30” plate at 1/4” thickness, and that it had ~24” of welded length along the shaft, I felt a lot better about everything. That ain’t going nowhere. I could be wrong but with the Monitor as a backup I feel like I can manage the risk.

    So we had it dropped and inspected anyway, and while the yard’s fiberglass expert was looking it over, we got to talking about how it performs. I showed him the above drawing and asked what he thought about adding a few square feet of surface area. He asked what I had in mind so I showed him the various rudder mods other Morgan owners had done, snapped a photo of my own, and simply sketched the following. I said I’d like the arc to be about 12-15” at most, roughly centered at the propeller.
    FE223BF5-CFD6-4238-9FC4-E76DEBED791C.jpeg

    I asked what he thought of this and he said he liked the old school style and that it would be no problem, he could have it done over the weekend. I asked how much, he said “$1000” and I said ‘have at it’.
    45D104A1-BD60-4483-95D6-5157A2EB3689.jpeg
    5D31DEA5-DC12-46B1-BAC8-D04CCC5E3CA6.jpeg
    As promised, my rudder showed up on Monday, was reinstalled and painted few days later, and off we went!
    And what do you know, I can back to starboard now! I swear it even sails better...requires about half of the wheel trim that it used to on windier days.

    All that to say that the rudder on these boats is a smart piece of structure that was extraordinarily overbuilt. I feel like I can trust it even with the extra pressure created by the enlarged lever. If that changes, I will certainly post an update!
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
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  5. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    I have already reshaped my rudder to be more like a 384. Yours may work better, but it certainly also puts more pressure on the gudgeons. My concern is rust inside. Foss Foam said the plate is mild steel. I am also not sure they built the rudders according to this Brewer plan. I hope so. Foss Foam said I should drill some holes along the shaft and poke around. I have drilled one, but it does not reveal much--certainly not the welds. Reveals mildly rusted steel plate which is still solid enough to break the drill bill off my hole saw. But I did learn that the interior is filled with very hard putty (design says resin with glass bubbles) and I think that is much better than foam. No "closed cell foam" is really water proof. I intend to drill a couple more larger holes and then decide. I have some slight rust that appears to be weeping out where the shaft exits the rudder to attach to the gudgeon.
     
  6. Travis

    Travis Member

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    The inspection holes sound like a good plan - I will do the same next time we are out of the water...

    Foss’ comments about the metal type being mild steel are very interesting...that certainly would affect things....
     
  7. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Terry
    My thought on the old rudder was that the rust weeping from where the gudgeon attaches was from the welds holding the SS tangs to the SS rudder post. The Ted Brewers plan for the rudder construction I had no knowledge of until a couple of years ago. If that single mild steel plate is rusting then that's another problem. And the fact that I had Foss built the new rudder probably means that the new one is as bad as the old one was. But i think the hard putty instead of foam in the rudder is a good thing. It would also account for the weight of the unit. A foam core would be much lighter then what is there.

    Jim
     
  8. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    You know, I think Foss builds good rudders. And I think using hard resin rather than foam is preferable. As I said, i found some of the plate with my first hole and it is solid, just some very mild surface rust. I will continue investigating, but none of us has ever had a reported rudder failure. Now, if the rudders were foam, it might be more likely. A new rudder would be foam. But it is hard to really investigate without damaging the foil.
     
  9. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Terry

    I think you are correct. Foss builds a good rudder. And our fellow Morgan owners have never complained of a rudder catastrophe. Bonnie and I are at a point in our sailing where we will not be going on many long distance adventures any longer, so I do not feel concerned that the rudder will fail. I'm more concerned with our well being at this point. What we did find of concern a few years ago was the wear on the bronze gudgeon fitting. The rudder was banging back and forth in the worn gudgeon. We added a shim in the worn space that solved that condition. That solution should be in the archives if anyone is interested.

    Jim
     
  10. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Travis, where on the drawing do you see 26" of weld? I hope you are right, but it might have been spot welded. Also, the more I look at your rudder the more I like it. And, as a matter of physics, in normal sailing, the pressure on the blade is probably no more than mine. You blade is bigger, but you expose less to turn the boat the same amount. I bet it will really help the Monitor vane steer the boat. I used mine for 10,000 miles across the Pacific and back and we often sailed with significantly reefed main and full genoa. That reduced our daily mileage. I will ask my physicist wife if my guess is correct.
     
  11. rickdowe2

    rickdowe2 Richard Dowe

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    Terry, I too am curious about the condition of the my rudder it shows rust on the bottom of the unit. I have talked to Foss and received the same info about mild steel. I have removed it and it is in my garage awaiting me to cut a window into one side so I can see what is going on. I will take pictures. Depending on what I find I will either replace the steel with stainless or paint it than pour foam. I believe the shaft has shifted and sunk into the rudder by an inch so I will be raising that back up. I also noticed the forward side of the rudder has a crack down the edge.
    Travis I like the look I might try something like that when I put it back together.
     
  12. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Rick

    What makes you think the shaft has shifted within the rudder?

    Jim
     
  13. rickdowe2

    rickdowe2 Richard Dowe

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    After reading on the diagram what the rudder was filled with I don’t think I will be able to open a cavity, not filled with resin and bubbles. I assumed ,shame on me, that it was filled with dense foam. Now I will have to rethink.
     
  14. rickdowe2

    rickdowe2 Richard Dowe

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    Because of the position of the quadrant key. When I first got the boat the steering cable was rubbing on the torpedo tube rubber connections, than I installed shims on top of the gudgeon which lifted the quadrant up but still I had to move the quadrant up the shaft a little which left only half the key engaged with the quadrant. When I called Foss up and asked for the shaft length from the top of the rudder they could not find it for the 382 but for the 384 they had a measurement of 24” mine is 23”. Now I see the rudder is packed the resin and beads so I don’t see how the shift is possible.
     
  15. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Rick

    I agree with your assessment. I don't think the shaft could move inside the rudder unless the complete weld on the flat plate failed. Even then the shaft may pivot around but not go up and down. There must be another explanation. When we changed from the 382 to 384 rudder, with both rudders standing together side by side, the length of the shafts above the rudder and the position of the keyways were identical. And I wasn't required to give those dimensions when I ordered the rudder.

    Jim
     
  16. Travis

    Travis Member

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    Terry,
    You are correct that the drawing does not call out the weld specifically. To get 24” I took the 30” plate measurement and subtracted 6 for the gap at the gudgeon. I made the assumption that it is welded the full length.

    To put it mildly, I would be pretty disappointed with Foss’s engineering folks if that wasn’t the case. I know welding isn’t cheap but I just struggle to imagine such a needless corner cut in such a critical location by otherwise-knowledgeable builders. Maybe I’ll contact them to ask so we can clarify the issue for sure. I looked in to the practice of welding hot rolled steel to SS316 because I wasn’t familiar with it, and it seems to be a common, precedented, and well understood practice, as odd as it sounds at first.

    Edit: I contacted Foss by phone and the owner, Al Walker, gave me some good info. Very knowledgeable guy. His father started the business and gave it to him when he retired. Al is about to retire himself, and will soon hand off the business to his son Dave.

    1) They opened in 78 and began building rudders for Morgan in the early 80s but he did not know exactly when they began because they were building for several boatbuilders by then and didn’t keep paper records until later on.

    2) If you have a “heavy rudder” it was built by Morgan, not Foss. Foss didn’t fill with polyester.

    3) The weld between the plate and the rudder shaft is not full-length because doing so caused issues with the shaft and/or plate. The plate is most commonly 50% welded to prevent warping of the shaft and/or plate. That means a few inches of weld, an equal distance of gap, a few more inches of weld, an equal distance of gap, and so on.

    4) That 50% weld frequency is more than adequate for the forces applied to the rudder in the worst conditions.

    5) He has seen failures of the mild steel plate before, usually due to water intrusion through cracks in the heavy filler that corrodes the mild steel itself until there isn’t enough there to resist the lateral loads

    6) From his perspective, gudgeon-mounted rudder failures seem to happen more frequently than other types. He suspects this is because they are harder to remove and inspect than most rudders, encouraging folks to avoid the hassle of dropping and inspecting them as long as possible.

    7) If you have an “original” heavier Morgan rudder, even if it has been taken care of, It is safe to assume the polyester filler is rife with micro cracks and that the plate is exposed to water at all times, not sealed from the environment.

    8) A new 384 rudder will set you back $2980. All metal inside is SS316

    So in conclusion, it can happen. It is worth going in to look at the state of the mild steel if you have plans to go offshore. The hole you make can be filled and glassed back in. Al said he would not feel comfortable far from land with a mild steel plate in the rudder but then again, he sells rudders for a living.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
  17. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Thanks for talking to Al. I drilled more holes in my rudder. It is the solid core kind, so from what you say, it was built by Morgan. The glass shell is 1/8" thick on the sides and 1/4" thick on the bottom. More than Foss Foam rudders would be, as I understand their layup schedule. I found two welds and gaps in the holes I drilled, so it was not welded along the whole seam. There has been some water intrusion--there is mild surface rust on the plate (which is about 1/8" thick) but from what I saw, the plate is very solid. On the welds, if I scratch them with a chisel, they are shiny and appear in very good shape. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the rudder and some small amount of water drained out--drops at a time. I have not decided how to proceed. Given that my rudder seems in very good shape, I may have my boatyard rout out around the shaft and apply a bead of 5200--what Foss does now. On the other hand, we are considering another trip to Polynesia and the price of new rudder is very reasonable. But why does Foss not use 316 stainless, which is much more corrosion resistant. I lie awake at night now worrying about the decision.
     
  18. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Rick, my shaft is 23" above the fiberglass of the rudder. A few years ago my steering cables also rubbed on the rubber part of the torpedo tube. The quadrant could slip down the shaft a bit along the key. I dealt successfully with that issue by placing a 2" ID reinforced hose to slip over the shaft below the quadrant (mine is a big circle, not a partial quadrant, actually). The quadrant can no longer slip down. And right now I am having my torpedo tube completely replaced with a fiberglass tube, full width, with 1/4" sides, glassed both inside and outside onto the hull. I could jump up and down on it if the deck wasn't in the way. I will no longer have to worry about the tube/hull joint leaking. Morgan used a resin slurry to attach the PVC tube to the hull and fiberglass resin will not adhere to PVC. I had leaks I dealt with using 5200 on the outside of the hull, but that could not be permanent solution. I hope to have some photos of the job soon.
     
  19. Travis

    Travis Member

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    I had a brain fart when I was typing that - it should have said 316. I’m going to fix it so others aren’t confused. Glad to hear some first hand accounts of this plate in there. I would love to see some photos of that.
     
  20. rickdowe2

    rickdowe2 Richard Dowe

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    Morning Terry, thanks for the measurement on the shaft length. I think I will drill holes like you and look at I few welds, if they look good I will try and dry it out maybe with vacuum and repair the fiberglass 5200 around the shaft and call it good.
     

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