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Thistle Rudder Head Mod

by Dwaine

In preparing Weatherly, Thistle 3669, for 2007 Nationals, we discussed what items might give us trouble. I had built our existing rudder head using fiberglass a few years ago. At the time quite a few rudders were failing and we believed ours might be next. It was time to see what we could do to make it bulletproof.

Welded tube inside rudder head hood

I wanted a solution that would not break, held the tiller with minimal slop, and did not require fiberglassing skills. I contacted Dave Sexton who used to sell a bolt on rudderhead kit through Northwest One Design.

I had heard a rumor about a rudder having this kit pulling one of the two bolts straight up out of the wood rudder. I also knew that Dave's kit had a tiny bit of slop between the machined tube and the blue hood. After receiving Dave's kit I decided a few improvements could be made. I installed the kit as instructed. I then made two modifications.

The first was to tighten the tube inside the hood. I removed the assembled tube and hood. My friend Jack fired up his Tig welder and tied, with molten aluminum, the tube to the hood. This effectively eliminated any slop.

Rudder head extension plate spreads load down the rudder

Next I cut a couple aluminum plates out of some scrap aluminum that tied the rudder head bolts to the top pintle bolts. The idea is that vertical forces on the hood's bolts will be shared by the pintle bolts. I haven't fallen on the tiller hard enough to verify this but testing is continually ongoing.

I started with an attractive rudder head kit from Dave Sexton, tarnished it up with some exterior welds and covered the sides with home made brackets. It ain't pretty but it is built like a brick house. Mission accomplished.