Friday, February 15, 2013

Old Style Sunfish Rudder and Tiller

Here is an old style Sunfish rudder, tiller and mounting hardware. The rudder, tiller and hiking stick are made from mahogany. The hardware is bronze, except for the retaining pin in this picture, which is an aftermarket locking stainless pin from West Marine. The manufacturer's pin is hard to find, I'll show a picture of one of those later.
There are two U shaped straps that are screwed onto the rudder, these straps are connected with a rod. I'll call this hardware the pintle, this "pintle" is secured into the boat's "gudgeon" with a locking pin at the top and a grooved slot at the bottom. This arrangement allowed for the rudder to kick up if the rudder hit an object, but it also could pop loose under heavy sailing conditions. The locking pin was secured to the deck of the boat with a chain and screw, the tiny screw is pictured here also. That's why on some older boats you might see a tiny screw or screw hole on the deck by the old fittings or where the fittings used to be.
The deck hardware includes a top plate with a rectangular metal plate "spring" that is used to adjust tension on the pintle. There is also a bottom keel plate that the lower part of the pintle rests in. The tab on the bottom of the pintle and/or the groove in the keel plate can become worn, allowing the rudder to pop loose. The deck plate and keel plate are bolted together and the rudder fittings are tensioned with a 10 inch carriage bolt, with a wing nut on top, a rather whimsical arrangement that endured for over 10 years before a design change in 1971. This bolt gets stripped and is also hard to find, although I bet there are a lot of them at the bottom of many lakes.

Rudder pin in original packaging, with chain and screw

From Sunfish Sailboat

Wear marks on tiller from bridle and repaired crack on tiller extension

From Sunfish Sailboat

Close up of deck mounting hardware and hard to find carriage bolt

From Sunfish Sailboat

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