Sunday, August 29, 2010

Noakes shipwrights - Carbon fibre rudder shaft and Edson quadrant repair

Our first task at Woolwich was removing the starboard rudder and carbon fibre rudder shaft. The job did not take long and after removing the broken Edson quadrant and upper stainless steel holding pin the whole thing just fell out. Well we had to lift the boat a bit to allow the assemble to slide out gently, but it was an easy job….

Lagoon continues to impress in terms of quality. The rudder, shaft, bearings and overall steering system are all massively over engineered according to Noakes – the lower bearing alone is over 30 cm long and made of solid carbon fibre. The fact that you can still order replacement steering components for an 18 year old catamaran also speaks volumes for US build production boats – at least those that were kitted out with quality equipment.

With the rudder out and available for detailed inspection we spend a while ensuring there were no hidden problems. After carefully consideration Noakes decided the best solution was to grind away the damaged area and laminate the shaft to a slightly larger diameter using vacuum bagged carbon fibre and epoxy. The repair took a few days, but the end result is stronger than the original shaft.

While Noakes worked on the rudder shaft I installed a new plywood panel for the “steering stopper” – the original panel was a bit too small and the forward bolt holding the “stopper “ in place had worn its way through the timber over time.

The repaired rudder and new Edson quadrant were not installed until just before the boat went back in the water about two weeks later. I missed that event, but by all accounts the task was straight forward up until they had to realign the steering system. Senior shipwright Gary Ferres said they had three guys working under torchlight tweaking and tuning the steering system to ensure the rudders were parallel and had full turn left and right. At one point they were out by 45 degrees because the cable steering had come off the Edson idler. But in the end – under failing torchlight – they prevailed and bolted the rudder assembly back in place.

I am glad to have the job done and really happy it all went so smoothly.

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