Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Evil Is...

Snapshot of what it looks like under the cockpit sole.

The dark underbelly of an Alberg 35 below the cockpit is no place for humans of any size, let alone someone who happens to be 6'5".   My helpers (kids) were away this weekend so I couldn't finish bolting on the rubstrake because I need someone to hold one end, so I turned my attention to the cockpit and how I am going to drop the rudder.

I started under the boat and began chipping away many years of bottom paint from the rudder fasteners.  To my surprise, once I scraped all the junk off, there were clean shiny bolts underneath that were actually serviceable.... amazing.  The rudder post is actually 2 pieces, the upper part goes up into the boat is 1.5" stainless and the lower end that terminates in the rudder shoe is 1.5" bronze.  There is one bronze strap located at the top of the lower post and keeps the rudder from riding up and out of the shoe. This gave me the most trouble but considering it's age, it wasn't bad at all.  The strap is pretty badly corroded and will need to be replaced, but I it came off easily enough. Once that was off there was nothing else on the outside that needed to be taken off to free the rudder other than lifting it off the shoe, which meant it was time to go into the dreaded 'under the cockpit hell'.

The slender lines of the Alberg when you see her sitting at anchor or sailing along make for some of the most diabolical access under the cockpit which is where a good chunk of the important stuff lives. My particular Alberg is further compounded by modifications by a previous owner that make access to the rudder from the engine/quarterberth area nearly impossible.

So basically I have 2 options, the aft lazarette is a good place to see (upside down) the work that needs to be done but none can be done from there because it is too far away from the rudder post to reach anything.  The other option is the cockpit lazarettes.  These are the only workable solution to actually accessing the rudder.  Of course if you are somebody who is 4'10" and works as a contortionist at the carnival, this might be a decent place to practice your craft, but for someone like me it is mainly suited for torture.

Anyway, given all my complaining things were actually going well.  I expected a corroded mess but was able to unbolt the quadrant from the rudder shaft with little difficulty. It still took close to 45 minutes because I had to keep coming up for air in the locker, but the bolts were completely free of corrosion.  Once the quadrant was free, I moved onto the wire rope sheave assemblies.  The port sheave was also corrosion free and didn't require me to reach too deep into my bag of profanity.  The starboard one was another matter.  The first 2 bolts came out fine, but the forward 2 were completely inaccessible.  I suspect they were installed when the previous owner's modifications were made.  My theory was reinforced when I finally found the last 2 bolts; they were encased (with fiberglass) in a bulkhead that made up the aft end of the quarterberth.  Unfortunately for me, this meant that if I really wanted to remove the sheave (I did), then I would have to cut the bulkhead. To make a long story short, I ended up using a drill to cut out a small (1"x 1") piece of the bulkhead where each bolt was located and then get an open ended wrench in to slowly turn the nuts off.  It took a ridiculously long amount of time and the only saving grace is that I was able to extract the sheave without any damage and will be able to sell it and the other bronze jeweler I dug out to help bolster the boat fund (Stuff for Sale).

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