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Rudder with a Destroyed Top Bearing


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Hi all - very new to boating and the boat that I've bought has a very loose tiller. It was identified before buying, so not a surprise, but I'm hoping someone can help me understand the best next steps to fix it.

 

Some details:

 

  • The looseness is only at the top - the rudder appears to turn fine, and has done so for three years (previous owners didn't travel very far and didn't see an issue with the steering).
  • The boat is a Bidston Marine from 2003
  • Shaft diameter appears to be 53mm, however that diameter may also include some of the wreckage of the old bearing seen below - actual shaft diameter should probably be measured after removing this!
  • The existing housing is marked "F208"

 

Here's the tiller in question:

IMG_20210328_144152.jpg.9a568ca684b7fb3775e958a6fb8b97b7.jpg
IMG_20210328_144145.jpg.1ba62bdac9bd6a30a97ed1f24eda4906.jpg

IMG_20210328_144224.jpg.c9875361c4ea962397ceb0840060027b.jpg

Looking at other posts on here, it seems like the bearings have been destroyed and what's left of them will need to be removed and replaced.

 

A few questions then:

  1. If I take the swan-neck off, do we think that the rudder is going to fall into the water? (It seems to be standing up based on the bottom cup at the moment, so I'd guess not, but thought I'd ask)
  2. Once the swan-neck is off, I'm assuming that I'll be able to lift the old bearing off and clean the rust off the top of the shaft - do we foresee any issues here?
  3. Do I just need to take off the entirety of the existing painted housing and replace it? Looks like you can get F208 bearings quite easily - like https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-40mm-Bore-4-bolt-flange-bearing-F208-with-40mm-bearing/284234869022 - do they come with different bore sizes? I've only found 40mm.
  4. Lastly and probably most importantly - is it likely that the bottom bearing may also want replacing when we take the boat out of the water in a few months, and if so, is there a reason I might regret not doing top and bottom bearings at the same time?

 

Thanks!

James

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, QuaintJames said:

Hi all - very new to boating and the boat that I've bought has a very loose tiller. It was identified before buying, so not a surprise, but I'm hoping someone can help me understand the best next steps to fix it.

 

Some details:

 

  • The looseness is only at the top - the rudder appears to turn fine, and has done so for three years (previous owners didn't travel very far and didn't see an issue with the steering).
  • The boat is a Bidston Marine from 2003
  • Shaft diameter appears to be 53mm, however that diameter may also include some of the wreckage of the old bearing seen below - actual shaft diameter should probably be measured after removing this!
  • The existing housing is marked "F208"

 

Here's the tiller in question:

IMG_20210328_144152.jpg.9a568ca684b7fb3775e958a6fb8b97b7.jpg
IMG_20210328_144145.jpg.1ba62bdac9bd6a30a97ed1f24eda4906.jpg

IMG_20210328_144224.jpg.c9875361c4ea962397ceb0840060027b.jpg

Looking at other posts on here, it seems like the bearings have been destroyed and what's left of them will need to be removed and replaced.

 

A few questions then:

  1. If I take the swan-neck off, do we think that the rudder is going to fall into the water? (It seems to be standing up based on the bottom cup at the moment, so I'd guess not, but thought I'd ask) 
  2. Once the swan-neck is off, I'm assuming that I'll be able to lift the old bearing off and clean the rust off the top of the shaft - do we foresee any issues here?
  3. Do I just need to take off the entirety of the existing painted housing and replace it? Looks like you can get F208 bearings quite easily - like https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-40mm-Bore-4-bolt-flange-bearing-F208-with-40mm-bearing/284234869022 - do they come with different bore sizes? I've only found 40mm.
  4. Lastly and probably most importantly - is it likely that the bottom bearing may also want replacing when we take the boat out of the water in a few months, and if so, is there a reason I might regret not doing top and bottom bearings at the same time?

 

Thanks!

James

 

1. Get a replacement bearing (or mebe 2) they're not expensive as they're standard engineering stuff

2. Lif the whole thing out - it's quie heavy and you'll need help, mainly to keep it upright.

3. My shaft had a collar within it to match the plummer block

4. The bottom bearing is (usually) a plain cup into which the rudder assembly fits.

5. Best with two people I did mine alone and it was quite awkward!

 

2 minutes ago, QuaintJames said:

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Lif the whole thing out - it's quie heavy and you'll need help, mainly to keep it upright.

So is that something I can do (with help) while it's still in the water?

 

Thanks!

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If the rudder blade has a bit that sticks up above water level with a hole through it  (most do), tie a rope through this hole, with the other end tied securely to something on the boat. That way, if having removed the swan neck, you do manage to drop the rudder, at least you will be able to retrieve it.

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Whoever painted over the grease nipple probably sealed the death sentence for that bearing...

 

Hopefully the bearing's inner race is intact which will have saved the shaft from damage. Judging by the rust though, it'll be very difficult if not impossible to remove the inner race from the shaft without cutting it, I've done it on similar bearings with a hacksaw blade, blowtorch and a lot of patience. The race will be hardened steel but the shaft isn't, slow going and if you do nick the shaft a bit it doesn't really matter.

 

Clean up the shaft really really well and then slide the new bearing on, and yep replace the whole thing.  Some cheapo ones on ebay only have a top seal, check that it's sealed on both sides. The rudder won't drop out from the bottom, but it's a good idea to check for wear there when it's out the water.

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I disagree with some of what Mr Goat said. There is no way you can lift the whole thing out. The rudder blade will stop you. You may however lift the bottom bearing out of the cup if you are not careful.

 

Under the bolt screwed down into the rudders stock (the one in the photo) and get the rudder boss off the stock. That will be tight and the swan neck is heavy.

 

Then you can unbolt and lift the bearing off the shaft but its so rusty it is likely to far easier to say than do.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

I disagree with some of what Mr Goat said. There is no way you can lift the whole thing out. The rudder blade will stop you. You may however lift the bottom bearing out of the cup if you are not careful.

 

Under the bolt screwed down into the rudders stock (the one in the photo) and get the rudder boss off the stock. That will be tight and the swan neck is heavy.

 

Then you can unbolt and lift the bearing off the shaft but its so rusty it is likely to far easier to say than do.

 

 

Yes, my bad and dim memory...

IIRC I did exactly as Young Mr Brooks wrote (accompanied by the appropriate curses and a fair amount of levering.

 

Yes, you cn do it while in the water - I did.

When you've fixed it - do remember to grease it regularly, else it will seize up - even if it's alledgedly a sealed bearing. I got mine by post from Bearing Boys.

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28 minutes ago, David Mack said:

If the rudder blade has a bit that sticks up above water level with a hole through it  (most do), tie a rope through this hole, with the other end tied securely to something on the boat. That way, if having removed the swan neck, you do manage to drop the rudder, at least you will be able to retrieve it.

This seems a very sensible precaution - thank you!

 

28 minutes ago, cheesegas said:

Clean up the shaft really really well and then slide the new bearing on, and yep replace the whole thing.  Some cheapo ones on ebay only have a top seal, check that it's sealed on both sides. The rudder won't drop out from the bottom, but it's a good idea to check for wear there when it's out the water.

Cool - I'll look out for those, thanks!

 

22 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Under the bolt screwed down into the rudders stock (the one in the photo) and get the rudder boss off the stock. That will be tight and the swan neck is heavy.

 

Then you can unbolt and lift the bearing off the shaft but its so rusty it is likely to far easier to say than do.

Okay - I think I've got it - sounds like I'll have to open a new tub of elbow grease.

 

8 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Yes, you cn do it while in the water - I did.

When you've fixed it - do remember to grease it regularly, else it will seize up - even if it's alledgedly a sealed bearing. I got mine by post from Bearing Boys.

Wonderful - this sounds doable, which is excellent news.

 

Thanks all - this is much appreciated!

 

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If you can not get the inner race off in situ you MAY be able to remove the rudder in the water.

 

Fit an eyebolt into the bolthole used to retain the swan neck, attach a length of rope to this.

You will need a reasonable depth of water/canal below the rudder, and your other rope still attached to the eye in the rudder blade. 

Lift the rudder out of the bottom cup and lower below the boat using the rope attached to the eyebolt, retrieve from below the boat using the rope on the rudder blade. 

Leave the rope in the rudder tube for re-installation.

 

springy

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How I did mine was to tie a rope to the rudder, loosen the top big bolt and then with two big hammer bash the boss with on each side to break the tapper lock, ( big pulley puller would be better) Once the tiller is lose remove it and clean the shaft as much as possible. I then refitted the tiller and loosened the 4 bolts on the bearing buy about 15mm, lift the whole lot using the tiller to hold on and pack between the under side of the bearing and the counter,  the with a lump of hard wood to protect the end of the rudder shaft drive the rudder post down back to the skeg. Loosen 4 bearing bolts by another 15 mm, lift and put more packing and repeat until the bearing comes up the shaft.

3 minutes ago, springy said:

If you can not get the inner race off in situ you MAY be able to remove the rudder in the water.

 

 

I would suggest a mini grinder just to slit the inner race would be easier rather than trying to slide it all down the rudder tube with a risk of jamming it.

 

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Hi

I replaced the top bearing on my boat similar set up to yours, before refitting the rudder i got a rubber sink plunger cut out the handle from the rubber leaving a hole smaller than the shaft then pushed it over the rudder shaft sealed around with a bit of puraflex. I then painted the rubber with the same epoxy paint as is on the boat to stop the sunlight deteriorating the rubber. When it rains no water gets to sit on the top of the bearing. Has been on there a year and is as fitted.

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11 minutes ago, plumbob said:

Hi

I replaced the top bearing on my boat similar set up to yours, before refitting the rudder i got a rubber sink plunger cut out the handle from the rubber leaving a hole smaller than the shaft then pushed it over the rudder shaft sealed around with a bit of puraflex. I then painted the rubber with the same epoxy paint as is on the boat to stop the sunlight deteriorating the rubber. When it rains no water gets to sit on the top of the bearing. Has been on there a year and is as fitted.

I cut two large washers from a tractor inertube  which I glued in place on the shaft, fitted without removing the swan neck, others have used drive shaft gaiters 

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You may well find the inner race is rusted solid on the shaft.

I don't try to remove the bearing or the cast steel carrier whole. I cut through with an angle grinder, breaking away the parts as I come to them with a cold chisel in the cut and a sharp rap with a hammer.

Wear goggles, the hardened steel with throw splinters.

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Had exactly the same issue on ours when we bought her.

 

First issue is getting the Swan neck off .... for me the two big hammers (14lb sledgehammers) just didnt work. Maybe I was too gentle. I referred to Tony Brooks pages (fantastic info). I used a method similar to that suggested by ditchcrawler. Undo the swan neck nut. Then wedge something under the swan neck raising the whole rudder up by a bit say 1/2 inch now either refit the nut a good few turns and give it a bashing ,being  careful not to damage the threads or  a good tip I learned is to use a bit of copper (flattened pipe will do) between the top of the swan neck bolt and your big hammer. You want rge rudder stock to drop a bit and then you can remove the swan neck. I found I needed metal wedges as wood was too soft and 'gave' too much. 

 

The inner bearing race or what's left of it was firmly fixed to the rudder. There will probably be one or two grubscrews the you need to remove (I had to drill the buggers out) 

 

You may be able to raise the rudder enough to cut the bearing off as suggested by others being careful not to dislodge the rudder from the skeg.

 

I couldn't get in to mine and had to get a bearing puller to dislodge mine. I needed a serious hydraulic  one not the cheap 3 legged rubbish ones from Ebay or machine mart.

 

It's all eminently doable in the water ( I was in a marina)

 

Good luck

Edited by jonathanA
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On some boats the propeller sends a lot of water up the rudder tube when the tiller is hard over, which causes this sort of disintegration of the top bearing i.e. splash from below rather than rain from above. When it is all apart you can try fitting a large rubber washer to the rudder stock between the rudder blade and the bottom of the counter. It needs to be a sliding fit over the rudder stock and bigger than the rudder tube, and cut out of heavy duty rubber sheet.

 

Also, if the boat is not too deep draughted, you can reach in through the weed hatch past the propeller and feel around the bottom cup to get an idea of what is there if you're curious.

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I removed the rudder with a bearing puller, it was almost at shearing the bolts strain when the swan neck popped of and very nearly took a swim in the marina, just managed to catch it. upon replacement i smeared just a smear of oil on the taper subsequent removal easy and the oil is not enough to allow it to slip but stops corrosion binding.

 

Hi

I replaced the top bearing on my boat similar set up to yours, before refitting the rudder i got a rubber sink plunger cut out the handle from the rubber leaving a hole smaller than the shaft then pushed it over the rudder shaft sealed around with a bit of puraflex. I then painted the rubber with the same epoxy paint as is on the boat to stop the sunlight deteriorating the rubber. When it rains no water gets to sit on the top of the bearing. Has been on there a year and is as fitted.

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  • 2 months later...

Just to conclude this thread, here's what we (my incredibly helpful dad and I) had to do:

 

Getting the swan neck off was, as people predicted, a real pain. It took 2 attempts - the first attempt, with smaller/less powerful tools didn't work - so if you're attempting this, my advice would be to get some serious tools! We used a fairly beefy puller tool, then heated the outside ring of the swan neck with a powerful blowtorch and whacked it on all sides with chunky hammers. After about an hour or two of that, it did finally come off - slowly - but it was a lot of work. No way I could have got it off without a puller tool.

 

Once the shaft was exposed, we then had to remove the rusted bearing, which was of course, fused to the shaft. Several cuts with an angle grinder finally took it off, but again, a pretty mammoth piece of work - probably took another hour and a half or so to try and avoid grinding into the shaft itself or the bottom plate. That didn't actually manage to get the rusted bearing off the shaft though. The thing that finally did it was the puller tool again. We had to lift the rudder up slightly so that we could get the puller tool underneath the bearing (we'd taken the advice of putting a bit of rope through the hole in the top of the rudder, so we were able to lift it - it never slipped out of the cup that holds it at the bottom end, though on other boats that may be a risk).

 

All that done, we were finally able to determine that the shaft width was 1 1/2" as opposed to 40mm, which are the 2 available sizes of F208 bearing unit, which I got here - thanks @OldGoat for the Bearing Boys recommendation - no need to go anywhere else. I then sanded back all surfaces as best I could, liberally applied grease over everything and fitted it all back together. Just got a couple more nuts & washers to find, but it's solid enough to pilot the boat now, without the tiller clanging back and forth. One day we'll repaint some of it, but - of course - not the grease nipple!

signal-2021-06-17-110401.jpeg

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Well done and thanks for letting us know how you got on, somewhere, in some bit of canal, someone is looking at a mangled bearing and wondering how the hell to get it all apart, this thread might stop them from bending their best screwdrivers getting it apart.

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The fact that you say the boss came off slowly indicates that yours is a parallel rudder stock top rather than tapered. if it was tapered it would have jumped off with a bang and maybe with far less effort.

 

Anyway, well done and thanks for the feedback.

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We had ours replaced a few weeks ago at a boatyard at the top of the Erewash Canal. It was a devil to remove the swan neck off the rudder post. Hub pullers, heat, hammers of differing sizes were employed, even with me watching, the darn thing wouldn’t let go. Had to be cut in the end. Well welded afterwards. All is fine.

Dan the man did not give up, determined to persuade the thing to let go. I was exhausted, I can tell you.

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The problem is caused by water laying on top of the so called sealed bearing race and rusting the ball race. The grease nipple is a waste of time as it will only get grease round the self aligning part and not into the race its self

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In order to remove things like the swan neck from the stock or the inner bearing track ordinary blow torches are not really hot enough and too slow they tend to heat the whole thing up and everything heats up at the same time so no sudden expansion to release the female part. A hot oxy-aceylene flame played upon one spot on one side will cause sudden quick expansion and quick release, but no everyone has got oxy-acetylene.

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