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Rudder Build Questions
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Great job👍



John and Paula Cutler 

I didn't think this day would come but today completes my rudder build with installing it back onto the boat. I was able to get the rudder back on without removing the bottom shoe. Time to get her in the water! As a personal reflection, I don't think I ever want to build another rudder again.

Hello Robert,
Glass each side separately, then come back in with lighter weight tapes to wrap the edges, overlapping onto the main glass. I put a 1/4" radius on my trailing edge, so it's no different than a fillet and takes the lighter glass nicely with no pop up. Once everything is filled and fared, you won't be able to see the transition. This is My 2 cents worth. Wiser heads may have much better advise!
Eraser 1484
In a message dated 6/16/2021 10:49:51 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:
Posted by: Robert P Malt on 6/16/2021 at 10:50 AM
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I'm getting to the point where I will be ready to fiberglass my new rudder. I still have a bit more shaping to go. I have worked with epoxy resin and cloth many times before but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how to proceed with glassing the rudder. Do you work with one sheet of cloth and then pray for the best as you fold it over to the other side? Part of me was thinking about cutting out the shape of the rudder and then treating it like two sides.


Any insight?

I'm getting to the point where I will be ready to fiberglass my new rudder. I still have a bit more shaping to go. I have worked with epoxy resin and cloth many times before but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how to proceed with glassing the rudder. Do you work with one sheet of cloth and then pray for the best as you fold it over to the other side? Part of me was thinking about cutting out the shape of the rudder and then treating it like two sides.

Any insight?

Yes it should go at the top. I think it’s main purpose is to prevent water from coming up the tube when your really going fast. Might reduce vibrations on the shaft too. 


Zeke -Got the bushing out. It's in good shape.

I am assuming it goes at the top of the rudder tube after you put the rudder back. ???

Rudder is out. It’s my backyard getting a sun tan ( and drying out!). I was able to jack and block the rear of the trailer up with the hitch attached to my truck and had plenty of clearance.  It’s a dual axis trailer. I did take a little bit off the top of the rudder – which I will replace after the other repairs are completed and the rudder is in back in place.  It actually came out  quite easily. I moved the boat back a little on the trailer so the shoe was clear of the trailer and had plenty of room to drop it.


Thanks for the heads up on the bushing! It’s still in the shaft and appears to be intact.  It’s @ 4- 5 inches down from where the rudder tube comes up from the aft seat. What is the desired location of the bushing? I would think at the top of rudder tube just below where it exits the aft seat. ????


FYI: I rebuilt a boat called a Raven a few years ago. A old 24 foot planning hull boat. Went like a bat out of hell. Not too many of them were made (tended to capsize a bit too much! ) Wish there was an Ensign type forum to get glean info from back then. Pretty much went by feel and made it up as I went! HA!   


Thanks Zeke!


There is a bushing and it's usually at the top of the rudder tube but sometimes they break off and sink down in the tube. You need to get it out and replace it once you have the rudder back in place. 
If not you will have a very difficult time realigning the shaft in the tube and it sounds like you are going to jury rig a way to remove it. Be careful the boat doesn't fall. If your trailer permits it try backing it over a drop-off spot like a curb or ditch under the rudder. Our trailers don't permit this in less you put the boat way aft on the trailer, to begin with. 



Thanks Zeke.

I’ll re-glass the top after I put the rudder back. That I can do in place. That should give me the clearance I need to clear the shoe a little more easily. Any idea of how much clearance you need from the bottom of the rudder to clear the hull when I drop it through?   


Yes and the strap will prevent it from popping out but if you cut off the top it should be replaced later. You might find it's tricky putting it back without removing the shoe. 


Hello - I'm in the process of removing the rudder to make repairs and re-fiberglass it. I had to grind off a little of the top of the rudder to get enough clearance for the rudder shaft to clear the shoe. I have not dropped it yet. I have a couple of choices to get enough clearance for the shaft to slide down through the hull. ( dig a hole, Hoist, jack the trailer up) Here is my question: These are old boats and from the number of threads I am seeing on rudder rep[airs / rebuilds the rudders need attention. The Class rules calls for a 1/2 inch clearance from the top of the rudder to the bottom of the hull. Is the 1/2 inch clearance there to keep the shaft from popping out of the shoe? Not sure how much attention these things will require in the future but it would be a lot easier to service the rudder if you could get it on and off a little easier. I'm getting too old for for some of this stuff! HA!

This is a much more involved explanation than I have time for right now. Maybe a phone call might be in order. 



Thank you. I thought that there was a way to do it without removing the shoe!

We have a hoist at my club and the boat has lifting eyes so I’ll be able to get enough clearance.

Appreciate the Ensign Class support. The Forum and Library are great resources.

Bob Panico    


Remove the tiller head.
Remove the strap.
Turn the rudder to the side.
Lift the rudder shaft out of the shoe.
Lower the rudder and shaft out of the boat.
You might need to dig a hole to lower the assembly far enough to remove it from the boat.

Ward Woodruff
413-847-0620 cell

Thanks. Does the shoe need to come off - or just the strap ?

Is there enough clearance to lift the rudder shaft out of the shoe once the hardware for the tiller and upper portion of the rudder shaft is removed to lift it up and clear the shaft from the shoe?


Look up Zeke Durica’s advice on reattaching rudder in this same string on the forum.

John Cutler



John and Paula Cutler 

I may have to remove the rudder from my boat to repair it. I have exposed the rudder strap and shoe. The strap appears to be in place with 2 studs that were peened over. The Shoe looks to have screws holding it in place. I'd like some insight as to how best to remove the rudder and getting in back into place after it is repaired. I had hoped ( and still may be successful) in repairing in place but it keeps raining! Having a hard time keeping it dry! I might be easier to take it off , dry it out , repair and put back. Comments please. Thanks.

When I decided to strip the bottom of #1661 of about thirty years of ablative bottom paint to enable me to use my favorite bottom coating, Coppercoat, I was surprised to find that under all the paint was an unsealed mahogany rudder, thankfully in really good shape.  No idea if it is original or a replacement.  The idea of bare wood with just ablative paint on it scared me, so I let it dry out very well and then put on two coats of West Systems epoxy.  The first coat really soaked in, and the second looked like a nice coat of varnish on top of that.

I then applied another type of barrier coat on the now pristine hull, and spent a day rolling on 4-5 coats of Coppercoat, which is a two-part epoxy mixed with very fine pure copper powder, applying it to both the hull and rudder.  On my previous boat, a J29, I got about eight seasons of use with that product on Narragansett Bay with nothing more than wiping off slime and a light sanding every spring.  The total effort of stripping, sanding and recoating was admittedly a big deal, (I should have had the yard soda blast the hull!) but I really like the long-term lifespan of the product.  And that mahogany rudder is now sealed in six coats of epoxy!

See for details...

WIND #1661

Dennis Nixon
Professor Emeritus of Marine Affairs
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881

Thanks Robert.

I just finished grinding the glass off and the wood is in good shape. I caught the issue early. What you suggested was what I was thinking of doing. I’m going to repair the rudder in place as well. Don’t really need to remove it at this point. The bronze / brass shaft looks to be in good shape too. Someone had tried to get some fiberglass around it. It just peeled off. Looks like they blended the glassing job of the rudder into the shaft which I think was the cause of the problem as the seal was poor. After I get a good seal on the rudder with the epoxy I’ll just bottom paint the shaft. Really just the first year I’ve had the boat. Bought it 2 years ago but an injury kept me from sailing it but 3 times. It’s been social distancing in my driveway for 2 years! I’m going to vaccinate it with the bottle of Rum and go sailing!


Are you talking about removing the rudder from the rudder shaft? They don't come off easy without damaging the rudder and if you were to get it off I don't think that you would be able to securely reattach it to the shaft. This is just me but if I had to do an in-place rudder repair I think I would grind everything down to wood like you said. I would then use Totalboat's penetrating epoxy thinned with alcohol and seal up the wood. If I didn't want to use cloth again I would just make a fairing compound with MAS epoxy mixed with phenolic microballoons and a little silica to coat the complete rudder and sand smooth. I would even think about cutting some cloth for the sides of the rudder and epoxy that in place before the fairing compound.

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