PNW Olson 30 Class Association

How to on the Olson 30

Rudder Replacement and Maintenance

contributed by Alex Krawarik

Cracked tiller head, loose shaft

Ken Nelson's (Becuna) original tiller head had cracked and the previous owner did not fix it for a long time. The end result was that the 3/8" bolt that goes through the shaft was taking all of the load. The tiller head also is loose and wears the shaft.

Intially, Ken used these steps as a temporary fix:

  1. Tiller head off (the rudder should float, people! But tie it off just in case)
  2. Drink can of beer!
  3. Cut beer can to shape of long rectangle
  4. Use as shim between shaft and head
  5. Drill through beer can aluminum
  6. Etc..

However, as you can imagine this became loose again over time. Ken then followed these steps for the permanent fix

  1. Pull rudder assembly out of boat
  2. Buy new tiller head or weld (what I did) up old one
  3. Clean top area of shaft with sand paper, wipe with acetone to remove any wax/oils
  4. Mask off area below affected shaft tip, mix light batch of epoxy and silica, spread on upper area, let cure
  5. Carefully shape upper shaft area with long file and long board to internal diameter of tiller head
  6. Tape off one side of hole in shaft, fill hole with light/med epoxy and silica, let cure
  7. Reinstall rudder in boat
  8. Attach tiller head to rudder shaft, get it close to centered, tighten pinch bolt/s until tiller head does not move
  9. Sail boat, stop and adjust tiller head for centered position if needed, retighten
  10. Drill hole through shaft with tiller head in place, replace 3/8" bolt

It is very important for the tiller head to shaft interface to be snug/tight via the pinch bolt/s NOT the through bolt. My opinion is that the through bolt is only there for safety to retain the runner in the boat should the head become loose.

Rudder replacement using a stainless shaft

"I just replaced my glass post rudder with a new SS shaft rudder. The SS rudder weighs in about 5 pounds heavier than the class minimum of 30. Judging from what I have read and seen with the glass shaft rudder posts, going to SS was an easy decision. Can the glass shafts be patched back together? in most cases yes. Mine was not only split at the top, but had vertical splits down low around the lower bearing area."

"We raced last year in some pretty heavy storms, (50+ MPH) [ed: Winter Vashon and other races took their toll around here in the last few years] and there is no way I could feel comfortable with a patched together glass post in those conditions, especially when you consider the responsibility of keeping our crews safe. Perhaps if we primarily only Buoy raced, that would not be as big of factor, but I doubt it."

"As for the new rudder, it looks great, I found the Foss company is great to work with. For those that don't know, they own the original rudder mold for the Olson 30."

"On the question of using the elliptical rudder as a replacement, how many national championships have been won with it? As far as cost between the two, about $1600+ for an elliptical and around $700 for an original with a SS post."
Rob Webster, "High Flyer"

Original Replacement rudders can be purchased through:
The Foss Company
Contact Name: Don
849 West 18th St.
Costa Mesa CA. 92627
PH: 949-646-0244
Fax 949-646-8261