Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

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dthiesmeyer
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Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by dthiesmeyer » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:57 am

My last sail of the season started out great. Good winds and 2-3 foot waves. We sailed out toward the Detroit Light House at the mouth of the Detroit River at about 5mph. We were rocking over the waves and were even asked by a Canadian Coast Guard crew member if we were having fun yet. We responded yes and they speeded away. We made our turn around the DLH and decided to motor back to the marina. We turned into the wind and rolled in the Genoa and then dropped the Main Sail. We were motoring in at about 6mph with the rudders down and following waves of 3-4 foot. We heard a banging noise from the aft and I looked down to see the starboard rudder floating and banging the stern. I cut the motor and we secured the rudder. I seems that the rudder pivot bolt had broken. The rudder bracket was deformed, but is not beyond straightening. The nut was a ny-lock, therefore it I do not think that it worked loose. The rudder was not damaged beyond a chip in the gel coat.

Has anyone had a rudder pivot bolt break?

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by Bill at BOATS 4 SAIL » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:02 am

It would be very unusual for a 3/8" stainless steel pivot bolt, in a stainless steel bracket, in fresh water, to break under those conditions, IMO.
Were the pivot bolt holes deformed?
My best guess is that the rudder hit something.

To answer your question, I've never had a pivot bolt failure in a Mac C, Mac 19, Mac 26X, nor Mac 26M, in fresh or salt water in over 25 years of sailing.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by BOAT » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:51 am

Actually, I am heartened to hear that the failure point was the bolt - I myself would rather have that bolt fail before the bracket or the tiller arm parts or pivots and especially before the rudder itself breaks - your misfortune is a good sign to the rest of us - and I also like the way the "lost" rudder was never 'lost' because the rudders are always attached to the boat with a rope even when they break off. That's a feature I did not enjoy one day in Mexico on a CAL25 - the old CAL25 flat top flush deck built by Jensen Marine was a tub of extraordinary fin and keel failures - we lost the rudder in calm weather close to shore - it just fell off! Apparently is was common for the rudder to work it's way loose of the rudder shaft on many boats made by Jensen. We had to free dive down about 20 feet to attach a line to the rudder that was sitting on the bottom, (it was a heavy rudder). :| Sorry about your accident - but really, it could have been a LOT worse on some 'other' boat.

The rudder bolts are pretty soft on the M boat - I noticed that a long time ago - is that intentional?

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by whgoffrn » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:23 pm

Ive studied about our rudders weakening and breaking at length the most likely thing that happened which is what seems to be a reoccurring problem is following seas the stern is flat wanting to slide the only thing keeping it in place is rudders....the bolt doesnt break first...its the brackets flare out ...allowing all of the lateral forces to now be on the bolt...either the bolt breaks or the rudder snaps near the bolt hole.... you absolutely cannot solve this problem by stepping up the bolt size or the rudder snaps...its the rudder bracket that is the weakest link..... rudder bracket bends and flares out now its not supported and all the pressure is put on the bolt / hole through the rudder
If you have an x i have a cheap weld fix for it and can search for a lengthy post on the subject "weak links in macgregor" i put pics up of the rudders and weld job on the bracket

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by Ixneigh » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:18 pm

I haven't broken them.yet but I put in half inch boltsanywsy. I think i have the be all end all fix for the rudder bracket and wonky support hardware. That along with the oak rudders blades smothered in as much glass as I could put on them should fix this particular annoyance. That's all next off seasons project though.
Concur do not use larger bolt without the rest of the upgrades.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by BOAT » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:25 am

If you guys want an indestructible rudder for the M boat it's really easy - just put a rudder on the outboard motor. Whenever your caught in a storm or a bad following sea you can use that and save your stock rudders.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by whgoffrn » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:54 pm

Lxneigh if you got any pics of what you did with your brackets could you post them....i went with a quick fix of having 1/4 inch section of stainless pipe welded at the bottom corners so i could use clamp style vice grips to keep it from bending and flaring but id rather have a better way of doing it if there is a reasonable way to stiffen up the bracket....the way i did it will function without a doubt but its kinda ugly and requires putting the clamps on after i lower the rudders cause you have to remove the vice any time you raise or lower the rudder... i doubt i would remove them while underway especially with rough seas but you just never know if a drogue line got wrapped up in a rudder. It would be kinda dangerous in trying seas

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by jimmy alonso » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:24 am

Has anyone had a rudder pivot bolt break?
Broke two bolts in 2017 :( Bent starboard bracket/broke rudder in 2018. How thick is your rudder bracket? This all happened after I replaced the brackets the new ones were thinner than the old ones. BWY sent me a new set that are the same thickness as the original 2004 brackets, sometime after they were made thinner.
Old 4.68 mm. New 3.4 mm aprox.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by BOAT » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:40 am

They were made thinner to protect the rudder shaft.

This is a problem on lots of sailboats. I could say it's a bigger problem on the MAC than other boats, and I might even be right, but I have had some experience with these issues on other boats so it tends to shade my opinions.

I had an Aquarius 23 left to me by my dad after he died and we had issues with bent rudder shafts that prevented us from lifting out the rudder - apparently the problem was common because later versions of the boat had a transom mounted rudder instead of the original well mounted rudder. The Hunter "cassette" style rudders are notorious for jamming. As I mentioned before, we dropped the rudder on a Jensen flush deck in Mexico. If you ever followed the Vendeglobe 65 foot solo racers you will see that in every event at least three boats lose rudders. My dad who was an insurance agent looked up the actuarial tables for sailboat accident payouts once and found the top reason for claim was "Steering Loss or Failure". Often the issue happens at the worst time because storms an following sea put the most strain on the rudder. Even the Bible refers to the tongue in mans mouth as: "Like a ships rudder, such a small thing can control a large person".

Rudder is critical equipment.

I do not think the stock rudder can be made stronger without endangering other parts of the boat. You could make the brackets and rudders a solid piece that can't break but then the rudder posts will break out of the fiberglass sockets.

What's worse - loss of rudder or a big hole in the transom under the waterline??

The only thing I see on the back of the boat that is strong enough to take the abuse of a really bad storm from a following sea is the outboard motor and it's transom well - now THAT thing IS bulletproof. As I am now starting to wander much further out to sea in the MAC I will indeed be looking to get a rudder that I can attach to the outboard - I still think that is the answer to this issue.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by whgoffrn » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:41 am

Notice the flare at the bottom.....that is what causes the bolt to break or rudder to break....its the bracket flaring first and now its not supported....im not sure how to fix that on an M model if i had to guess i would just guess to take the bracketa off and have much thicker 3x the thickness stainless bracket fabricated at a welding shop. Having an x mac i got away with an easier cheaper fix

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by whgoffrn » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:48 am

And boat the issue of the rudder posts arent a difficult issue to fix....the bolts are long enough to attach backing plates that run the length to the outboard bolts on the inside. You are right that its a 3 part problem and in my opinion the weakest area is the bracket then the rudder the 2nd and last the fact that given enough pressure if the rudder and bracket are stronger it can rip the entire thing out of thw hull.....a 1 piece backing plate that is long enough to run from the 4 bolts in the back of the grudgeons to the bolts securing the outboard thus connecting the two. I believe doing this will drastically improve the strength and move the weakest point back to the rudder being the breaking point just at 3x the loads required to break....1 piece backing plates that go from the posts to the outboard in essence do make the posts as sturdy as the outboard
Last edited by whgoffrn on Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by kurz » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:49 am

well thanks BOAT for the statistics.
Specially when everybody knows that the rudder is the weekest point... What I want to say why boat builder do not make the rudder stronger. Sounds funny. But it is the cheapest to engeneer in the factery production a little heavier than to correct later.
To be honest: I do not trust too much im my :macm: rudders, the brackets are bent quite so far. Hope it will hold...

Where at the Outboard could you fix an emergency rudder? That's the question...

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by whgoffrn » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:53 am

Emergency rudder = drogue...there was speculation wether it would work or not but i tested it out this last year and worked great steered very easily with boards up ....that was using a fiorentino shark drogue smallest size

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by BOAT » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:28 am

Making the rudder box in the hull stronger is the right answer if your trying to beef up the stock rudder - for me that's just over my head - I am not a great fiberglass person so I will need to leave that solution to those that know how to handle fiberglass and stuff. The rudder box is an overly delicate thing on the M boat because of the water wells that are built into the rudder box - it's a rather over complicated system in my opinion. This rudder box with a water well inside and a drain hole to drain it to the outside was all engineered to accommodate moving all the steering gear (tie rods and tiller arms. etc.) to the interior of the boat. A great feature in my opinion, but as we all see, fraught with dangers.

I must admit if it were my choice i would prefer two rudders UNDER the boat but really, how do you get 20 mph under power and how do you trailer the thing with rudders under the boat??

The MAC is a TRAILER boat, and these are the kinds of compromises we must accept to trailer the boat - honestly, those of you that never trailer your boats might have made a bad choice. The boat was MADE to be on a trailer.

The outboard motor is the easiest way to fix the issue. It's VERY strong, it will not break, and it can be used as a decent storm rudder with a few modifications.

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Re: Last Sail of Season - Rudder Pivot Bolt Failure

Post by whgoffrn » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:14 pm

I dont know what is possible in an m boat because of how the brackets bolt through the hull and if a backing plate can be made to attach to the outboards bolts or not ...in an X its not that hard to do because of how the rudders just hang off the back and are not recessed under the boat...in an ex a big thick piece of stainless plating can be cut and drilled out to fit over the bolts of the bracket and the outboard throw the nuts on and tighten down and its all rock solid and reinforced

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