Towards the end of the 2015 season we began to notice increasing levels of vibration through the tiller. There has always been some play in the upper bearing but the clearance did not seem to have increased and pressing the tiller laterally did not seem to reduce the vibration, so we suspected something else. When we hauled out at the end of the season one of my first actions was to inspect the lower bearing of the rudder for clearance, which I found to be quite considerable, 2 – 3 mm possibly. The lower land of the rudder is supported in a bronze shoe that is bolted to the skeg by a total of nine slot-headed bolts. With little hope that these would release I tried a large screwdriver of suitable size on them and to my surprise every one came out. The set screws are around 10 cm in length, made in a grade of stainless steel, all in good condition having been bedded in a sealant. The shoe released without problems and the rudder was not too heavy for me to lift while a timber support was placed beneath it.
I measured the diameter of the rudder shaft and found it to be between 31.65 and 31.70 mm, equivalent to 1.25 inch. Fortunately wear was minor and no machining was necessary. I brought the shoe home with me to have a suitable repair made. I also posted a request for information on the Sadler and Starlight Owners’ Association web forum, from which I received very useful information from John Moncreiff, another 34 owner, who had repaired his rudder bearings some time previously. John removed his rudder in order to replace all bearings, which rather surprisingly includes a third one at the hull immediately above the rudder. Removal of the rudder requires that the skeg be removed from the hull due to the taper of the rudder from top to bottom. The rudder cannot be dropped straight out although it may be that it can be lowered sufficiently for the top bearing to be replaced.
|Diagram showing all the dimensions of the 34 rudder, made and kindly provided by John Moncreiff.|