This step by step instructions describe the work done and choices in a Jeanneau Arcadia but it is very probable that it applies to all Jeanneaus with a tiller from the 80’s. I hope this can be useful for others, as it would have been for me if I could have found one.
Ghaaata is a Jeanneau Arcadia from 1984 and she does mostly coastal sailing in the Oslo fjord. In Norway, it is normal to haul out the boats for the winter, as parts of the fjord usually freezes. Ghaaata is one of the last boats out, with the goal to be the first in line to go back in. This implies some pressure on concluding all the yearly maintenance and each year some work must be done under harsh conditions. In reading this description, one must keep in mind that Norway has a very cold climate. Although this was as abnormal warm winter, a good part of the work was done alone in sub-zero temperatures with limited hours of day light, since we are at 60 deg latitude.
The date set for returning to the water was April 6, 2020.
The Covid 19 pandemic that occurred in March 2020 added another layer of difficulty.
Otherwise, this is a relatively simple work.
Photo 1: November 2019, Ghaaata is one of the last boats in the marina
Further inspection after the haul out, a significant play on the rudder blade was detected, not much due to the bushing, rather due to the internal structure. The rudder is half skeg supported. Decision was taken to remove the rudder for repair or replacement.
Photo 2: Rudder half skeg supported
There are 3 bushings: One located at the half skeg, another at the bottom of the hull and a thrust bearing (bushing) near the tiller head.
First thing was to undo the bolts at half skeg.
Photo 3: Bolts on half skeg, starboard side
Photo 4: Bolts on half skeg, port side
How the bolts / nuts could be flush on both sides was a bit of a mystery.
Task is of medium difficulty. First, clean all the old paint and antifouling.
Photo 5: Bolts / nuts on the port side after cleaning of old paint
While on starboard side, the head of the bolts was normal, on the port side it was a nut that required a specific tool to remove.
Photo 6: Nuts on port side
Not having the tool, it was very difficult to remove them, but successful after some time. The concept was a bit a disappointment. These are very short nuts, with some 4 mm height. One would think this is insufficient to hold the rudder in place year after year. On a positive note, this was the confirmation that no major loads are applied and we may assume that their function is just to hold things in place.
Next major step is to remove the tiller head. What looked a straightforward job, proved to be one of the major challenges. The tiller head consists of a brass piece and solidarity with the rudder stock is ensured by a conical pin. Only after careful measurement it was possible to determine it was conical and its exit direction. However it was so tight, that it could barely move and I was concerned to be doing something wrong.
Photo 7: Tiller head with conical pin visible on the left side
I’m not proud to say to have taken 4 days and several trips to the hardware shop to remove this pin.
I tried several removal tools, but the configuration of the tiller head and the stop pins did not allow to position them adequately. The tools would snap each time that pressure was applied.
What worked was to jack the complete assembly to remove partially the load, a pin bolt extractor, a lot of penetrating oil and some tapping on the other side. Actually, “tapping” was a bit more than that, and care must be taken to not break anything. The pin bolt extractor is supposed to grab the pin when applying rotation and loose it. After some 3 or 4 mm of movement, finally it was free. Still today I’m surprised how much tight that thing was.
Photo 8: Pin bolt extractor
Some more gentle tapping on the top of the stock allowed to slide it down. Remember to fully disassemble the bolts on the half skeg, otherwise it will not go and damage may be caused.
Photo 9: Rudder lowered
At that point, it was necessary to lift the boat to allow clearance for the rudder stock to fully slide. The yard doesn’t allow to dig holes and I was also not too keen on it anyway. On January in Norway we may expect a frozen ground.
The process is straightforward but care must be taken to slide it as much vertical as possible, since from the hull there is a pipe that goes well above water line. The system is good as it doesn’t involve a shaft seal, seems sturdy and perfectly safe, however, keeping the integrity of the pipe is essential.
Photo 10: Pipe around the rudder stock.
Once the rudder out, the problem was evident and the course of action clear. The rudder was made of wood / ply wood, and was completely rot around the rudder stock. I suspect this was already a replacement rudder. The damage was not visible with it in place, since it was hidden by the half skeg.
Photo 11: Damaged rudder due to water
Any attempt to repair would be a short term solution, hence decision to replace was taken. The options were:
- Order a new one, tailor made from a mould of the existing one. It is not so easy to find companies willing to do it and when finally found, the price was completely out of the budget. Also, the mould would not be very precise, due to the existing damages.
- To make one myself: My preferred construction would be with parallel plates cut with the profile of the rudder, the voids filled with adequate filling material, then layered with fiberglass. This would avoid making a mould and it would be a sturdy construction. Care with weight must be taken but it is manageable. Although I know how to do it, I’m not a welder and hourly prices in Norway are very high. Also, it is needed an adequate place to do it. Another possibility would be to bring it to another country, with more reasonable prices, but I had not much time to drive around with it.
- Try to get a replacement at Jeanneau or other place proved to be impossible.
- Order a new one from a specialized manufacturer, made from an existent mould. The problem with this option is that the shape will be different, since the existent mould can only be modified to make it smaller, by the use of 3 D printed inserts, never larger. It also implies buying a new rudder stock.
Jefa Rudders from Denmark has a very good website with plenty of information and prices. Finally, this was my choice. I also ordered a new tiller head. The reason is that I doubt it would be possible to measure / machine the hole for the conical pin with sufficient precision and the new tiller head is easier to disassemble if needed. This is important considering my struggle on removing the pin.
The shape chosen was the RUD30 modified with my measurements.
By recommendation from Jefa, the rudder stock was made with some additional millimetres length and 2 Delrin washers were supplied. It would be very risky to have the rudder stock too short. At the end, one washer was used under the tiller head.
Being the wetted area a bit smaller than the original, I decided to order a bit longer. As several sailboats from the 80’s, the Arcadia tends to round up when leaning upwind, say more than 30 degrees. It is not dangerous, just unpleasant, and I expect to attenuate a bit this problem by having some more rudder on the water.
Photo 12: New rudder drawing
The bushing also presented some play and was due for replacement.
Photo 13: Old bushing
As visible on the photos, the holes in the bushing are oddly placed. I suspect this is just lack of care on the manufacturing, since the holes on the L-shaped plates are accurate. Nevertheless, I opted to have the holes exactly as in the original, just enlarged by 1 mm to be sure the bolts will pass.
The most important is to keep the shaft position and I would lose the reference point. Not being perfect as it is, at least I know it works.
Next, it was time to choose the material for the bushing. I did read very good references about Vesconite material and the technical data sheet presented good characteristics. I contacted Vesconite in South Africa, asking where I could have the bushing manufactured here in Norway.
It turned out that Vesconite provides this service from South Africa. This solution seemed a bit extraordinary but I have to say that it went fantastically well. The people there provide answers almost immediately, are always available and until it was delivered here in Norway, personally informed the progress and tracked the shipment. I have no hesitation to endorse Vesconite.
Photo 14: New bushings from Vesconite
It is pointless to show the detail drawings of the bushings: I’m certain that the holes are not the same in all Arcadias, just that these are exactly as the original on mine.
Once the rudder arrived, very fast considering the Corona virus pandemic that closed all borders, it was treated with West System Epoxy:
- One layer of pure epoxy
- 2 layers of epoxy with added barrier coat.
Photo 15: New rudder in my living room, ready for epoxy. Wife not happy.
Finally, I painted with Alkyd Enamel, in an attempt to protect the epoxy from UV, in addition to the antifouling. I’m not certain that this was a good idea. Took very long to dry. It accepted well the antifouling but when applied antifouling with thinner, there was a reaction. Well, it is done and it is just cosmetic. The rudder protection is ensured by the epoxy applied under the excellent conditions of my living room.
It is time to reassemble.
Before, a critical modification had to be made. The new rudder has a width of 90 mm, quite a bit more that the original one. The half skeg has some lips making the contour around the rudder. While the rudder would fit, there is no doubt that rotation would be prevented. So, about 6 to 8 mm of the lips had to be ground.
Photo 16: Adaptation of the half skeg
These lips are not structural, so it is not so much a concern. However, I want to be sure that all is adequately sealed. For this purpose, West System epoxy was used again, essentially in the same way as in the rudder, but with more generous barrier coat and an additional light coat of pure epoxy at the end, on top of the barrier coat.
Photo 17: Barrier coat applied to the half skeg
It was necessary to lift the boat again and on the date set, wind was blowing with 40 knots gusts. When conditions improved a bit, it was decided to give it a try. The process went very well. Ideally, one would lift the boat, then lift the rudder to the boat, but due to the social distance imposed by the virus and being the rudder too heavy, I had to be holding it alone, while the operator would lower the boat. It is much more difficult and hazardous. For evident reasons, there are no photos of the event.
Photo 18: Rudder in place
We can see on the photo that the rudder doesn’t follow the contour of the half skeg.
As said, the original design on the bolts and nuts in the half skeg are not convincing me. The nuts in particular seem way too weak. After a lot of googling, I found some in France, but decided to use regular hexagonal nuts with a strong washer to support them. The existent void was filled with Sika 291. The assembly is well tighten, allowing some deformation of the washer. Some thread lock glue was applied to the threads.
Photo 19: Bushing support with new bushing and bolts
The hydrodynamic will not be as good due to the hexagonal bolts but safety is the main concern here. The new setup, while not perfect, is definitively stronger than the original.
Photo 20: The assembly finally completed
Precisely on the date planned many months ago, the April 6, 2020, Ghaaata returned to its normal habitat.
- The boat has not been tested yet with sails. With engine, maximum speed was reached normally, which means that the hydraulic profile is mostly ok.
- The tiller became heavier. Not only the lower bushing has no play any longer, the rudder section in front of the rudder is less, so more force must be applied. This was expected.
- Port manoeuvres ability seems to remain unaltered.
- This turned out to be an expensive job, overall. If one has the conditions and the skills, the cost may be less by manufacturing the rudder himself. However, the cost of materials shall not be underestimated and will add up quickly. Top quality is pricey.
- The suppliers Jefa Rudder from Denmark and Vesconite from South Africa delivered impeccably and on time. Both are recommendable companies.
Gato - Jeanneau Arcadia - Norway
The article written was in response to this thread on the Jeanneau Owners Forum