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Rudder, Rudder Post and Rudder Tube Problems and Repair

Replacing my Hurely 22 rudder tube - an essay

Hurley 20 Rudder Repairs

Darren has sent us a sequence of pictures showing the repair of his rudder and rudder post He says:

"You can see how little of the original rudder post remained, the cut from the narrow grinder blade, the rudder split in two, the rust inside from some water ingression (although not as bad as some others have seen). You can also see the interesting trick of Second Wind standing on her tip toes to make enough room to get the rudder back in (I tried to dig a hole, but just short of the required depth there was a small boulder). I also added a zinc (turned down on the lathe) to do double duty to protect from further corrosion and to act as a spacer to remove play in the rudder. After the photo shown I had to bring the zinc back to the lathe one more time to shape it so it fit better against the hull. On the topside of the rudder post I added a delrin disc which is thick enough to pull the zinc right up against the hull which removes all the vertical play in the rudder."

Old rudder Close-up of split rudder Material rusted away from rudder post Split rudder around perimeter  
Rudder split in half and post removed Rust in rudder blade Lots of clamps    
Zinc collar On her toes New rudder in place    

New Hurley 24 Rudder

These pictures show a new Hurley 24/70 rudder being fitted by Maurice Huffy of Blaxton Boats

Hurley 22 Rudder Problems

Hurley 22 leaking rudder tube. Leaking rudder tubes and glands are an issue on Hurley 22 yachts. The Hurley-built 22 had a rudder tube of galvanised steel that would rust and fail with foul consequences. This is a common problem and the weakest link in otherwise sound boats.

You need to cut the tube out with an angle grinder from inside of the vessel, crawling under the cockpit and squeezing past the cockpit drains. This is not a pleasant job but will be helped by creating an inspection hatch with cover at the aft end of the cockpit sole. The tube should be replaced by an item of stainless steel, cut to length and threaded at each end to allow for a skin fitting nuts to secure. These skin fittings should be reamed out to create a rudderpost bush at top and bottom.

However, your friend might have a rudderpost with stuffing box gland? These are easy to stop leaking just by re-packing with cotton wadding and grease.

Or you could use the easier method that later Hurley 22s had. That is a PVC hose between two bronze skin fittings that are reamed out to 1" to act as bushes. The hoses are held in place by hose clips.

Rusty rudder tube - Hurley 22
Rusty rudder tube - Hurley 22
Hurley 22 - weak GRP in rudder area - from Harmut Dietrich
Hurley 22 rudder drawing
Hurley 22. Rusty rudder tube inside boat - normal
Hurley 22 - rusty rudder tube
Hurley 22 rudder tube modified with PVC hose
Hurley 22 rudder tube modified with PVC hose
Hurley 22 - rudder tube access hatch

Hurley 22 Replacement Rudder Tube

Work carried out for Ben Hillwood-Harris by Ryan at The Metal Clinic Ltd.

Rudder Tube:316 grade stainless steel

Dimensions:Tube Length 840mm

  • To allow approx 10mm at either end for external s/s nut skin fittings

External Diameter 42.2mm with 4.5mm wall thickness
Internal Diameter (with nylon bush) 28mm

  • (plus due to the nature of my rudder stock, a nylon bush with an internal diameter of 25mm was required at the base of the rudder tube)

Length of thread along tube (both ends) 100mm
4 s/s nut (as skin fittings)
4 s/s washers (as skin fittings)


My rudder tube was the original (I think) and was completely rusted through; Nick Vass who surveyed the boat was surprised it hadn't sunk. It appeared that somebody in the past had made some repairs, as there was some epoxy/glass fibre seal internally at the hull end of the tube. I managed (through an inspection hatch) to break the tube and release the top half on the old tube through the rudder tube hole in the deck. The bottom half wasn't half as easy. I had to carefully grind the old section of tube and skin fitting nut (bronze) but eventually it came free, with out damage to the hull!

I took the whole rudder and stock to the fabricator to ensure that the fit was good. Ryan turned the job around fairly quickly, a week or so once he had sourced the tube.

Because my rudderstock had various 'collars' (i.e. its diameter wasn't uniform ranging from 25mm - 28mm approx) Ryan had to split the bush into two parts, the bottom (hull end) was also split into along its length to allow fitting as the rudder and stock was refitted. Click here to see a drawing.

Replacement Rudder Tube - Bilge Keel Hurley 22

Gary describes how he replaced his rudder tube.

When I bought my Hurley 22 bilge keel,the owner told me she had recently had a rudder repair after a brief grounding incident and that there had been some minor fibreglass work to the bottom edge. Ihad a quick look and sure enough there was some evidence of recent repair, with that Ioverlooked the rudder stock and tube thinking, wrongly now, that it would have been all in good order. I suppose that's the danger of buying a boat full of enthusiasm and trust, but with little knowledge.

After I paid up and on my first real poke about, Itook a torch and inspected the aft end through the rear hatch. The rudder tube was a galvanised pipe of 2 inch diameter, fixed at the top and bottom with steel nuts and an oak washer to protect the hull at the bottom end. The tube appeared to be in good shape apart from some rust at the bottom end where the water had probably seeped through the top nut and steel washer, which were looose, resulting in the whole rudder assembly slopping about in its seat. I crawled up the rear compartment, pretty tight, smelly and itchy on the arms, so wear some long sleeved overalls, and got a real good look at the tube. Sadly after a prod with a screwdriver the flakes of rust peeled away and there appeared to be serious thinning of the tube around the bottom nut, so Idecided to replace it before she went back in the water. The next time I crawled into the hole, I took a hacksaw, hammer and chisel. I managed to cut the edges off two sides of the nut and with a bit of persuasion from the hammer and chisel the nut came away and the tube dropped onto the rudder. The top nut was cut off in the same fashion. The back end of the boat was lifted with the yard crane and, just before the bow touched the yard, the rudder came out.

After talking with Nick Vass I decided to replace the tube with a stainless steel pipe and nuts. I tried a few boat yards, engineers and chandlers but the cost was fairly high, so I went to a local engineer in town. Again he said he would thread a pipe and fabricate some nuts but the cost was increasing, he suggested trying a company who made equipment for milking machines and transport and after a quick phone-cal,l they said they had the pipes and nuts in stock and all Ineeded to do was give them the length and they would thread it as required. They were brilliant, even said they would post it to me but I went down to Salford and picked it up. They even turned me a brass collar on the lathe whilst I was there, to prevent the rudder stock moving sideways in the tube. The cost for all this was £27! I was amazed. The replacement was the reverse and the tube was firmly secured with the new nuts and reassembled

Hurley 24 Rudder Post Replacement

Old, rusty, galvanised rudder tube New, stainless-steel rudder tube

See also the FAQs page