Rudders. They’re an essential piece of equipment on a boat. As essential as your mast, engines and trying to keep water out of the boat. What could go wrong? A lot. Frozen rudders, loose bearings, delamination and a plethora of other situations.
Since having only purchased this boat eight months ago, I decided to check every system before splashing and heading south. One of those systems is steering and I’m sure glad I did because of what I found. More on that later. I’ll preface this post with the fact I am not an expert. I will plead plausible ignorance. When I started this project I knew little and Google didn’t provide much insight. So this is a bit of an informative post for anyone coming upon similar issues. I suspect there are a few as there are many Lagoon cats out there.
Step 1: To start, you will need to have your catamaran blocked up at least six feet at the transom in order to be able to drop out the rudder posts. Block up the rudders from below. They’re not overly heavy but insure you have a saw horse or something stopping the rudder from falling out.
Step 2: Mark all attachments at the top of the rudder post with a felt marker. This will be a huge help when you go to reassemble everything. Simply draw a (straight) line from the metal collar onto the post. I typically take pictures as a backup.
Step 3: Undo all collars and attachments at the top of the rudders. Our Lagoon 410 has a collar with a pin through it to keep it from falling out. You may need to take a mallet to gently hammer that pin out. Once out, slide the collar off and you’re ready to drop out the rudder.
Step 4: Drop the rudder.
Step 5: Inspect. There are a few things to look for. First, understand that there are two bearings; lower & upper. Each bearing is comprised of the pieces; One attached permanently to the rudder post. The other to the boat. On our Lagoon, the upper post bearing is made of stainless while there is a delrin (plastic) bearing attached inside the rudder sleeve (boat). The lower post bearing is again, made of stainless while a brass ring is attached to the boat. The brass and plastic are the sacrificial components. They will wear while the stainless does not.
Investigate your rudders;
- Is everything firmly attached to the rudder post? Nothing should be spinning on the rudder post. They shouldn’t even wiggle.
- Are the components in the rudder sleeve firmly attached to the boat. Again, nothing should be loose.
- Are there any cracks in the rudder post?
- Is there any delamination in the rudder? Take a mallet or small hammer and tap the actual rudder blade to see if there are any inconsistencies.
Step 6: Fix all issues. Our problem, which I’ve heard is a common Lagoon catamaran problem, is that the stainless rudder post bearings were spinning freely on the post while the lower (brass) bearing ring was also spinning freely. Left unchecked, this would have caused wear on both the rudder post and sleeve.
To fix this is a tedious process but you need to first remove the stainless bearings from the post. Lots of patience, a Dremel tool, small screwdrivers and whatever else you can think off to get the existing bedding compound out. Once you are able to slide off the stainless sleeves, clean them and re-seat them with West System Epoxy using a 404 thickener. Re-insert the rudders into the boat to allow the bearings to set into the correct orientation while the epoxy is still wet. This is critical as you are dealing with thousands of an inch.