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Pillow block bearing for rudder shaft support?

Tim Eichel

I found a pic of a Morgan owner that installed this pillow block bearing on the rudder shaft prior to installing a linear drive ram auto pilot. Any thoughts on why this might be necessary? I am ready to install a ram autopilot on my boat and would appreciate any comments on this.


The Morgan 38x has no upper bearing on the rudder shaft. It is just a nut holding the packing in place. There is certainly a fair amount of movement when steering in heavy conditions. So a bearing like that would shore up the shaft and hold it better. Is it needed? IDK. If the tiller arm the autopilot connects to is shorter than the diameter of the quadrant, then the forces will go up, and it might need more support. If the same as the diameter of the quadrant, then it shouldn't be any different than pulling on a cable. I have nearly 30,000 ocean miles on my Morgan, and every other steering component as worn out and needed replacement. But the shaft moving has not been an issue.
When I built the Shumacher designed rudder for #075, I obtained a new rudder shaft long enough to accommodate the 1-ft + elliptical extension below the rudder gudgeon and 1-ft above the rudder post stuffing box. The reasoning was that the rudder was designed for a 5-ft boat,. therefore a 6-ft boat must surely need a 1-ft deeper rudder. At the highest point, a Tides Marine rudder bearing was incorporated into structural reinforcements between the aft lazarette (sorta wimpy divider/bulkhead) and the cockpit molded pan. This of course denied any access in the aft cockpit locker save the tensioning the rudder cables. I didn't want to get in there anyway. The good news was that the longer shaft and deeper rudder weighed less than the original and the stern rose at least an inch or so. Unfortunately, the boat now has to be on slings to remove the rudder
Now if Warren's 30k on a stuffing box (which has no business in this location) had no problems, it appears that it may have been a bit of overthought.
What else does your grey matter do between 12:00 am and 3:00 am? eh?


Richard Kilroy
I have an Edison torque arm on my rudder post and probably have had for 30+ years. It is smaller than the quadrant. All the talk of the rudder post leak is funny to me is I have none. Boat went in the water on 12 June this year and the stuffing box needs to be tightened which I haven’t done yet. Pumping the bilge pump regularly tell my old bones can get in there and tighten up the original stuffing box. Which has new packing of course.
The rudder packing is above the waterline when the boat is not moving. When moving, the waterline lengthens, and then it is just under. So any leak, at worst, would be minimal while sailing and nothing while in a slip. You can remove the large nut and change the packing with the boat in the water.

Tim Eichel

Many thanks for the great input Warren, John, and Richard. I have decided to go ahead and add the additional support with a pillow block bearing as my tiller arm will be shorter than the quadrant. This will cost less than $50 in materials and a little labor so it might be worth it in the long run.