Hints and Tips



Sun Odyssey Rudder Bearing Upgrade

Ian QV provides another comprehensive step by step guide

I recently upgraded the rudder bearings on our Sun Odyssey 37.

I had replaced the rudder bearings a few years back

(see hints and tips section: Sun Odyssey Rudder Bearing Upgrade ).

But after feeling the helm of a Jeanneau Yacht fitted with Jefa rudder bearings, I was sold on the idea of upgrading!

The following is what I did to upgrade our bearings...

Firstly there are two sets of bearings (without Major work) that will make a big difference:

This bearing takes the entire weight of the rudder and relies totally on the fiction (or lack of it) for a smooth rudder feel.

The Jefa bearing replaces the Jeanneau delrin washer

Jefa say it is a direct replacement, but the problem is that you have to find 5mm from somewhere! The Jeanneau washer is 5mm in thickness, the Jefa bearing (thrust washer) is 10mm. Straight away I lathed off 2mm from the Jefa bearing, leaving me 3mm to find. I power planed off 3mm of the rudder tube. Should I ever wish to revert to a standard set-up.... I can just add a 3mm delrin washer.

The Jefa bearing has delrin ball bearings in it which hugely reduces friction

Sectional view here...

The fitted bearing...

To protect from dust, I adapted a winch cover

The second set of bearings I upgraded are these:

Note - I did not use Jefa bearings for this

Once again, these work on friction (or rather lack of it!)

Standard pulley with worn spindle

Replaced with a sealed stainless needle roller bearing

I then had to find a GOOD engineering company that could lathe down the old pulleys to make the new bearing fit

The bearings are a press fit into the pulleys and set in locktite 638 - ultra strong and used to retain bearings.

I then replaced the 20mm spindle as to old alloy Jeanneau one had worn. I did get the new spindles polished before fitting. I went with stainless as it is quite hard (although has a low tensile strength). But as it is 20mm thick, I don't think I'll ever snap them in two!!

The new bearing / pulley being fitted

As mentioned I purchased the top bearing from Jefa. Here is a link to the page:JEFA site

The needle roller bearing I got from Ebay. So the bearing I bought was a 2020HK.2RS

This number can be easily broken down.... The prefix code 'HK' indicates the use of a Caged Needle rollers. The suffix 'RS' indicates the presence of a contact lip seal on one side of the bearing, whilst the '.2RS' indicates a bearing with lip contact seals on both sides of the bearing.

The 20x20 is the size - in my case (please measure your own as they may differ) the width I required was 20mm, the inner diameter was 20mm. You then select what the outer diameter. You want a slim bearing. Mine measures at 26mm outer diameter. This is because I could then lathe out the pulley and still remain in the reinforced part of the pulley (see below).

I have not yet launched, but I can already tell the amount of friction to turn the rudder is GREATLY reduced! I will of course update this thread when I launch in March.

Just to add... you will need to drop your rudder to replace the top bearing. Also - if you suffer from squeaky / graunchy steering, you may find a cure is to loosen the steering cable slightly. Tight cables INDUCE noisy steering operation.

Fair Winds


Ian's forum article (with additional comments) is at: Sun Odyssey Rudder Bearing Upgrade