CD 33 Refit: Clunck!

I was moving the rudder back and forth one day (on the hard) to check the swing, when I heard a CLUNK below the cockpit sole. I looked around and found this little beauty. This is the rudder stop that was welded to the steering bracket. It stops the quadrant from turning too far either side.

rudder stop
rudder stop

Cape Dory builders made use of generic steel in certain areas. The steering bracket and the horizontal backings for shroud pad-eyes are two such areas. When surveying a Cape Dory, these are two places to check first for corrosion. My chainplate systems were in good shape when I surveyed Sanderling for my own purchase, and still are. Just a little surface rust near the toe-rail edge. The shroud pad-eye bolts are OK. Re-bedding is important if they start to leak.

looking up at the hull-deck joint area port side

I knew from the initial survey I did that the steering bracket was corroded. So the time to deal with it had finally come. Tied to this project was a pedestal renovation and cockpit sole rebuild, since the long standing water intrusion also got into the core (see the post Get Some Sole).

pedestal leaking for many years – serious corrosion (bronze quadrant and ss wires spared)

The stock metal used in these areas was only covered with a slim coating of primer by Cape Dory builders. The leak in this area was due to either poorly bedded pedestal at build (others have suffered this condition), or movement of the pedestal over time, which compromised the caulking. Lots of water came through here. There was most likely galvanic corrosion also.

cable guides
cables coming out of pedestal – not much left of backing plate

The pedestal backing plate on these Cape Dory boats came with the Edson steering solution kit they used, and Edson calls it the cross-wire idler. It was a fairly thin piece of cheap metal in the 1980 version, and was actually a weaker link in this system than the original metal Cape Dory used to fabricate the overall steering support system.

used idler plate
what the original Edson idler plate looks like – someone selling a used one on the internet

I do not believe Edson has any of these older idler plates. They pointed me to the new versions when I inquired. They are $459 (not cheap) and made of aluminum. Edson was really only interested in selling me an entirely new system. There was no way I was going to toss out my bronze sheaves for these cheap aluminum ones.

Edson 6″ Idler $459

When I got my rotted steering bracket out it looked like they just welded the Edson idler plate onto their yard-fabricated bracket that holds three things together ( pedestal idler/backing plate, the four sheaves, and the rudder stop) . You can see below the original Edson idler plate attached to my CD fabricated steering bracket was almost entirely GONE.

rotted backing plate

The two outboard sheaves were still OK. So I had a local fabricator take the entire thing and cut away all the bad stuff, and he made a replica using stock metal for about $400 (New England area price). Down south you can probably get it done for half that.

new steering bracket

I had him embed two stainless grommets as primary wire-guides that were machined to take retaining rings, so the sheaves would mount on them as before and swivel to adjust, but could be removed. These were originally press-fit ss grommets from Edson that allowed the sheaves to swivel but made them permanently fixed to the plate. I also called for a 1/4 inch solid idler plate, and a rudder stop that would be removable for doing maintenance on the quadrant area.

there was enough room to double-up the clip rings on each, so it was snug but could still swivel

I did not get fancy with machining a swing arc for the hold-down bolts like the original Edson plate had. There was no need since it was not going to be critical to adjust the positions of these first two sheaves continually. It was easy to put the bracket in and out via the port lazarette. So I installed the sheaves on the bracket, aligned all the sheaves and wires, marked the positions of these first two sheaves, then removed the bracket and drilled the thru-bolt holes needed.

bracket near outboard sheaves was OK -so that part of the setup didn’t change

That long adjuster arc for the tie-down bolt is really only necessary if you are installing a new system (or building a new boat) and don’t know where exactly your pedestal, sheaves, and quadrant will be in relation to each other. On a boat already built, those are already fixed and won’t change. Being able to still fully adjust the second set of sheaves proved to be more than enough for fine-tuning the wire leads to the quadrant.

two coats of two-part primer

I did not feel this needed to be stainless steel fabricated either. That would have been a much higher cost and difficult to drill, modify or tweak. I gave it 2 coats of epoxy two-part primer. With proper bedding of the pedestal and leak mitigation it can last indefinitely.

first set of sheaves – clearance to swivel but will be through-bolted to exact position needed.

And obviously the pedestal had to come off to do all this. Forty year old aluminum Edson bolts are pretty much ready to break….especially with continuous water intrusion.

this one was easy…..

…but other times you gotta fight with them. If they are aluminum, which is soft, using the correct type and size of bit you can can drill the head off cleanly from above without damaging the pedestal flange. But it will not be fun if those old bolts are stainless steel. You’ll need to go at those from below, and may need to cut the nuts off with a specialized cutter or even a torch.

aluminum Edson bolts – head drills off easily.

The pedestal guard (the cockpit oh-shit handle) has these two feet to hold it in place, which were through-bolted (piercing through the steering bracket below). These are also a huge potential for leakage onto my nice new bracket, so when I redid the cockpit sole I made it thicker overall, with a synthetic core, and solid glass in those footer bolt areas, so I could get the holding power I needed for these footers using lag screws instead of through-bolts.

During a cleanup and wash-down after that cockpit sole project, I also noticed a little drip coming from one of the cockpit drains. It was not the hose connection, it was trickling down the outside of the bronze fitting, so the cockpit water was actually getting around the glassed in drain fitting. I didn’t rebuild that area of the cockpit sole, so I may be able to deal with it using caulking applied into the gel coat cracks around the drain. I’m not sure why Cape Dory glassed those in, they could have just used a typical flange thru-hull with backing nut and hose barb.