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Possible Rudder Mod

Parallax

Member
Wondering what folks think of this possibility. Right now we're racing our Morgan once a week and having trouble keeping it under control around turns. Runs well in a straight line but the steering has been horrible. We're thinking it's related to the modified full keel combined with a shallow rudder (matching the depth of the keel with the board up).

Have been trying to post a photo of my Charlie Morgan 38 rudder and prop but the site won't let me. Says I'm missing a temporary file that needs to be restored by the admin. To see it, please click on this link.

The rudder is shallow to match the shallow keel. We're thinking of re-engineering it with a section that drops down to match the depth of the drop board. Then we'd raise or lower both at the same time. We're also thinking of making the rudder longer and carving out a small section near the prop so there's room for a folding prop. We're hoping we'd get better steering at low speeds and have less drag while sailing in light wind without the cost and complexity of a feathering prop.

Obviously this would be a major project. Any reason these changes couldn't be realistically done? We love many things about this boat. The way it sails in rough seas and strong winds among them. It's just not currently nimble enough to match our interests. We're competing with smaller and lighter fin keeled boats. We don't particularly care if we can't keep up. It's just disappointing when we can't maneuver and disqualify or just can't finish the race.

It could be that something needs to be fixed in our steering. We've not hauled out yet. The previous owner had the bottom cleaned last summer. We've done our best to check for problems with the steering linkage and haven't found any, but we're limited as long as we're in the water, especially since it's way too cold to dive under (without a dry suit). To save money, we're hoping to haul out after the racing season, and then take on cleaning and painting the bottom, painting the sides, and perhaps modifying the keel and rudder setup as described above.
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
When Practical Sailor reviewed the Morgan 38 and Morgan 382, it commented that those with the Charley Morgan designed 38 found its sailing characteristics more satisfactory than those with the Brewer designed 382. I think there is some other problem here, not a rudder design. Rudder work best when they are very smooth. Get the bottom and rudder cleaned up before you start altering Morgan's design. he designed great boats.
 

Parallax

Member
When Practical Sailor reviewed the Morgan 38 and Morgan 382, it commented that those with the Charley Morgan designed 38 found its sailing characteristics more satisfactory than those with the Brewer designed 382. I think there is some other problem here, not a rudder design. Rudder work best when they are very smooth. Get the bottom and rudder cleaned up before you start altering Morgan's design. he designed great boats.
You're making me think I should bring in a diver to clean it asap. He can replace the zinks and give us a report on how things look down there. I think there's a two or three week wait for someone really good.
 
I'd think a diver/cleaning would be my first step too. It doesn't take much growth to alter the way our boat performs. Terry is right, Charlie Morgan designed some pretty successful race boats, and obviously others as well. Altering a rudder is no small endeavor. And seems like saying I need a new car, when the old one only needs new shock absorbers. just my $.02
Mitchell
 

mpearson

Mark Pearson
Staff member
Have been trying to post a photo of my Charlie Morgan 38 rudder and prop but the site won't let me. Says I'm missing a temporary file that needs to be restored by the admin. To see it, please click on this link.

Sorry about that - the server ran out of space and wasn't allowing photo uploads. I cleaned things up and it should work now, if you want to post photos, etc.
Thanks,
-Mark
 

Parallax

Member
I'd think a diver/cleaning would be my first step too. It doesn't take much growth to alter the way our boat performs. Terry is right, Charlie Morgan designed some pretty successful race boats, and obviously others as well. Altering a rudder is no small endeavor. And seems like saying I need a new car, when the old one only needs new shock absorbers. just my $.02
Mitchell
Thanks Mitchell. I'll talk to my buddy, Steve, and suggest we do this.
 

Parallax

Member
Sorry about that - the server ran out of space and wasn't allowing photo uploads. I cleaned things up and it should work now, if you want to post photos, etc.
Thanks,
-Mark
Thanks Mark. Here's the picture. It was taken long before we owned the boat. The prop in the photo may have since been replaced. When we were going through the boat, Steve found an album with old photos. Most interesting of all, there's a log of all the owners going all the way back to the beginning. The boat passed back and forth several times between two owners in the first few years of its existence. The prior owner spoke of getting a sense from that log that, back then, it was this expensive, luxurious craft that was a symbol of success. Like owning a Cadillac in those years (1969 to 1971) times 1000.

As for the photo, I can see why it steers best under power. The prop is right on top of the rudder so it doesn't require a lot of speed to steer in forward. Reverse is another matter, as it's pushing water the wrong way. Just thinking about fluid dynamics, it equally makes sense why, under sail, it needs a certain amount of speed for the rudder to be effective. Still, perhaps a good cleaning will help.
 

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Warren Holybee

Active Member
Most people here including myself are more familiar with the 382. But I seriously doubt the rudder is to small. Your sail trim is most likely the culprit.

With that in mind, rudders are very sensitive to small imperfections. Water needs to flow smoothly and "adhere" to the surface. So any growth can make a huge difference. So keep it clean, and many (most?) racers will sand the antifoul before splashing for the smoothest surface.

Another tip from racers is the trailing edge. On nearly all rudders it is round. About a 20% efficiency improvement can be had by chamfering it at 45 degrees. Not a point, but 2 sharp corners with the trailing edge flat at a 45 deg angle.

But start with sail trim. Is the problem while sailing upwind or downwind? While tacking or jibing? How are small course adjustments? How is it on a beam reach?
 

Parallax

Member
Most people here including myself are more familiar with the 382. But I seriously doubt the rudder is to small. Your sail trim is most likely the culprit.

With that in mind, rudders are very sensitive to small imperfections. Water needs to flow smoothly and "adhere" to the surface. So any growth can make a huge difference. So keep it clean, and many (most?) racers will sand the antifoul before splashing for the smoothest surface.

Another tip from racers is the trailing edge. On nearly all rudders it is round. About a 20% efficiency improvement can be had by chamfering it at 45 degrees. Not a point, but 2 sharp corners with the trailing edge flat at a 45 deg angle.

But start with sail trim. Is the problem while sailing upwind or downwind? While tacking or jibing? How are small course adjustments? How is it on a beam reach?
Thanks Warren. Tacking is hardest but jibing can be a challenge too. Not sure we've tried to steer going downwind. The race ends in that direction and it's a straight shot. I don't know about the beam reach. Appreciate the information on the rudder edge.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
When tacking.
Don't put the rudder hard over as that slows the boat and you want speed to stay up.
If not already, the main should be trimmed to the centerline of the boat. This helps turn it. If eased too much, you will lose power sooner as you begin the tack.
The jib can be trimmed hard beginning the tack as well. Tacking from a reach might not work.
Don't release the jib too soon. Let it fill backwinded for a second or three. This will bring the boat around quickly.
Finish the tack on a close reach, ease both the jib and main for power, and with speed up trim and head up closer to the wind.
 

Parallax

Member
When tacking.
Don't put the rudder hard over as that slows the boat and you want speed to stay up.
If not already, the main should be trimmed to the centerline of the boat. This helps turn it. If eased too much, you will lose power sooner as you begin the tack.
The jib can be trimmed hard beginning the tack as well. Tacking from a reach might not work.
Don't release the jib too soon. Let it fill backwinded for a second or three. This will bring the boat around quickly.
Finish the tack on a close reach, ease both the jib and main for power, and with speed up trim and head up closer to the wind.
I'm not experienced enough to understand what you've said but I'm passing it along to my boat partner who skippers us when racing.
 

Parallax

Member
Here's some good news. I've figured out how to maneuver this beast into and out of its slip all by myself. It steers reasonably well in forward, with the prop sending water right over the rudder. As others have said, in reverse it steers like a drunken elephant. But there is significant prop wash. With a judicious use of forward, neutral and reverse, I've figured out how to make it pirouette in place with the result that I can control it really well.

Under sail is a different matter entirely. The rudder is useless in light wind. But sailing her is amazing regardless. Salish Sunset 2.jpg
 

jimcleary

James M. Cleary
Parallax

The Charlie Morgan 38 "Paper Tiger" won two Newport to Bermuda races back in the day. It would be better to have the bottom of yours cleaned and properly painted before you consider making any changes to the rudder or the prop. If, after a service haul-out, the boat does not perform as advertised, then you can address any problems.

Jim Cleary
 

Parallax

Member
Parallax

The Charlie Morgan 38 "Paper Tiger" won two Newport to Bermuda races back in the day. It would be better to have the bottom of yours cleaned and properly painted before you consider making any changes to the rudder or the prop. If, after a service haul-out, the boat does not perform as advertised, then you can address any problems.

Jim Cleary
Absolutely. We've now got dates to haul out in July. We'll pressure wash, maybe wet sand a bit and then repaint the bottom. While it's out, we'll examine the center board, rudder and prop. Fix what we can in the time available and plan to haul out again in the winter to do more significant work. We'll take measurements of the rudder and then try to recreate one out of carbon fiber. Right now we're thinking of designing one that's longer and has a drop down section to mirror the length of the center board. We also want to leave space for a folding prop. We might make other changes too. Of course it's an experiment. Assuming we can build it, we can then try it out see how it does. If it's worse than what we have now, we can go back to the original.
Right now, the boat is great for cruising but it really doesn't work at all for racing. At low speeds, we lose our steerage. As a result, we can't tack effectively in light winds.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
As I said, sail trim. Start with a clean bottom, then practice steering by adjusting the sails, leaving the rudder centered. The rudder is a brake that slows the boat. If you are racing, you won't will races with poor trim and steering with a barn door. You probably won't be able to tack with the rudder centered, but should be able to steer from a close reach to a broad reach, and maybe even jibe.

As a point of reference, in a discussion with an engineer at Scanmar about emergency rudders, their research is that most boats are fine with a rudder 1/4 of the factory size. And with a factory rudder only a small amount of steering input is needed. Modifications to the rudder are really a very last resort, and pretty rare to be needed on a boat from a reputable architect.

Also check what other boats in your area do for cleaning. Ask some racers that likely don't let the bottom get to bad. A monthly haul out for a pressure wash does not seem practical. Most areas have a diver that for ~$100 per month keeps a boat clean.
 

Parallax

Member
As I said, sail trim. Start with a clean bottom, then practice steering by adjusting the sails, leaving the rudder centered. The rudder is a brake that slows the boat. If you are racing, you won't will races with poor trim and steering with a barn door. You probably won't be able to tack with the rudder centered, but should be able to steer from a close reach to a broad reach, and maybe even jibe.

As a point of reference, in a discussion with an engineer at Scanmar about emergency rudders, their research is that most boats are fine with a rudder 1/4 of the factory size. And with a factory rudder only a small amount of steering input is needed. Modifications to the rudder are really a very last resort, and pretty rare to be needed on a boat from a reputable architect.

Also check what other boats in your area do for cleaning. Ask some racers that likely don't let the bottom get to bad. A monthly haul out for a pressure wash does not seem practical. Most areas have a diver that for ~$100 per month keeps a boat clean.
Your comments are wonderful, Warren. Really appreciate your taking the time.

What do you think of brushing the bottom with one of those long curved poles with a broom head on the end (or something similar)?
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
Your comments are wonderful, Warren. Really appreciate your taking the time.

What do you think of brushing the bottom with one of those long curved poles with a broom head on the end (or something similar)?
I've seen people use a push broom with a fender tied to the head so the floatation presses it hard against the hull. I can't imagine it does a good job, but worth a try.
Maybe try it the day before you haul out so you can see if it is at all effective.
 

Parallax

Member
I've seen people use a push broom with a fender tied to the head so the floatation presses it hard against the hull. I can't imagine it does a good job, but worth a try.
Maybe try it the day before you haul out so you can see if it is at all effective.
I'm thinking that if we do it a couple of times a week after we haul out, pressure wash and paint, it might help keep the bottom clean.
 
Parallax, The brush idea would help keep the hull cleaner, but I think you'll find a regularly scheduled diver is also required.
I'll be really surprised if the bottoms condition isn't pretty fouled at this point.
Post pics when you haul her.

And, Warren explained light air dynamics much better than I did ;)
Keep the boat moving at all costs, as little human movement as possible too.
Mitchell
 

Parallax

Member
Parallax, The brush idea would help keep the hull cleaner, but I think you'll find a regularly scheduled diver is also required.
I'll be really surprised if the bottoms condition isn't pretty fouled at this point.
Post pics when you haul her.

And, Warren explained light air dynamics much better than I did ;)
Keep the boat moving at all costs, as little human movement as possible too.
Mitchell
Thanks Mitchell.
 
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