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Old 02-27-2021, 04:14 PM   #1
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Rudders are seized!!!

Hello everyone. Long story short, boat has been sitting for a while. Been catching up on maintenance. About once every month and a half I’ve been down to the boat. Diver has been diving every 5-6 weeks. He replaced zincs a few months ago.

6 weeks ago my buddy and I doing oil changes and other things. Ran the engines. All was well.

Yesterday I bring the family down with plans on taking a 4 1/2 hr trip to Fernando Beach and back. We arrived to a dead boat. Shore power was still working but all the batteries were dead. No idea why the charger stopped working. So I isolated the house batteries and that came back overnight. Now I’m letting the start batteries charge. So we were getting ready to fire up the engines and leave when my 2 1/2 year old discovered my rudders are locked up. Here’s what I found.

Are my dead batteries and this corrosion possibly related? Do I have a stray current? How do I check for that?

Also can I on blaster these stuffing boxes? Or is the damage beyond repair? The diver said every thing looked great 6 weeks ago.

Thanks guys.
Steve
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Old 02-27-2021, 04:47 PM   #2
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Hello everyone. Long story short, boat has been sitting for a while. Been catching up on maintenance. About once every month and a half I’ve been down to the boat. Diver has been diving every 5-6 weeks. He replaced zincs a few months ago.

6 weeks ago my buddy and I doing oil changes and other things. Ran the engines. All was well.

Yesterday I bring the family down with plans on taking a 4 1/2 hr trip to Fernando Beach and back. We arrived to a dead boat. Shore power was still working but all the batteries were dead. No idea why the charger stopped working. So I isolated the house batteries and that came back overnight. Now I’m letting the start batteries charge. So we were getting ready to fire up the engines and leave when my 2 1/2 year old discovered my rudders are locked up. Here’s what I found.

Are my dead batteries and this corrosion possibly related? Do I have a stray current? How do I check for that?

Also can I on blaster these stuffing boxes? Or is the damage beyond repair? The diver said every thing looked great 6 weeks ago.

Thanks guys.
Steve
Maybe you lost shore power for some time and the batteries went dead but usually it wouldn’t take your start batteries as well but it depends on how your boat is wired.

You have some serious corrosion going on on the rudder stuffing box. You can try loosing the stuffing box and see if the rudders free up some. However you may get some water leaking in, or a lot of water but probably not lots. I would just loosen up the nuts and see what happens then get some new packing and repack the box. I like Duramax stuffing. I would clean up all the verdigris that you can and see if it come back quickly.

Maybe get a certified marine electrician to check the boat out for the charging and for current leakage.

Good luck.
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Old 02-27-2021, 04:51 PM   #3
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Maybe you lost shore power for some time and the batteries went dead but usually it wouldn’t take your start batteries as well but it depends on how your boat is wired.

You have some serious corrosion going on on the rudder stuffing box. You can try loosing the stuffing box and see if the rudders free up some. However you may get some water leaking in, or a lot of water but probably not lots. I would just loosen up the nuts and see what happens then get some new packing and repack the box. I like Duramax stuffing. I would clean up all the verdigris that you can and see if it come back quickly.

Maybe get a certified marine electrician to check the boat out for the charging and for current leakage.

Good luck.
Thanks. So there’s a chance they can be saved? I thought for sure the boat needed to come out.
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Old 02-27-2021, 04:59 PM   #4
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A lot of people repack shafts and rudder shafts in the water. Be ready for the water coming in and make sure your pumps are in good working order. It should not be a huge amount of water but it may startle you. Have some rags ready to stuff in while you work on it. If you can determine what size packing you need have some on hand. You may not be able to tell what size before you take it apart though. If you do get it apart and you aren’t sure what size you need, take a drill bit and see what size bit fits between the shaft and the side of the stuffing box. Then order that size stuffing. You may get by just cleaning up all the verdigris and see what happens.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:03 PM   #5
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My advice is change everything out. Even if you got everything free, you might find the bronze boxes are compromised. The metal could be turning to dust. I would not waste time and money trying to safe them.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:06 PM   #6
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Mine have some verdigris on them too, not as much as in the photos, but structurally they are sound. This is usually just on the surface and doesn’t compromise the stuffing box.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:16 PM   #7
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So is this a normal thing to happen or does it indicate another problem? Like I said I thought zincs prevented this
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:28 PM   #8
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There are several better mechanics on this forum than I am. But I just don't recall rudders seizing. The hydraulic steering system can operate at high pressure so this sounds unusual. But could be my inexperience.

Personally, before I did anything, I'd see if the rudders can be moved by hand. If there's a crossover valve between the two lines, open it. This allows the fluid to just move between the ends of the cylinder, not through the helm pumps. If there is no crossover valve, I'd disconnect the cylinder from the linkage. Rudders should move freely by hand. If it doesn't, I would certainly loosen the packing glands. And yes, repack. It's pretty straightforward. If youre not comfortable and have a decent mechanic, it would not take him long.

Not sure what I'd do after that. But would keep trying to isolate the component that is not allowing fluid to pass.

Good luck

Peter
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:28 PM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. 91. The verdigris is formed by a reaction between the bronze housing and salt water and probably hastened along by less than perfect grounding. You probably have had a long term seepage issue. Just a WAG.


Just read Mr. mv's post. YES. Try that first, then clean up the corrosion.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:30 PM   #10
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I would disconnect each rudder from the steering link and see if one or the other is the culprit. It may be neither and your problem is upstream. If you remove the linkage and both of them are locked up then I think it is time to pull the boat. Once disconnected they should free up. If so I would follow Comodave's course of action. My 1.5 cents.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:52 PM   #11
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I would disconnect each rudder from the steering link and see if one or the other is the culprit. It may be neither and your problem is upstream. If you remove the linkage and both of them are locked up then I think it is time to pull the boat. Once disconnected they should free up. If so I would follow Comodave's course of action. My 1.5 cents.
This.

A lot of other parts of the system (linkage, hydraulic ram, hydraulic pump, etc.) could be locked up making you think it is the rudder(s). A stuffing box with packing inside doesn't really have much to "seize" IMHO.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:57 PM   #12
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Some verdigris is normal, yours looks a bit worse than I would like. But who knows how long it has been building up. In salt water it is very difficult to keep it gone completely. Some manufacturers have painted the bronze fittings with clear Alwgrip or the like to try and stop it but it isn’t usually something to really worry about unless it is stopping the rudders from turning. But as mentioned it could even be the hydraulic system causing your problem. I like the idea of pulling the cross tie bar and see if one or both will turn.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:00 PM   #13
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Thanks guys. Boat has been in the water for 2 1/2 years. Everything including bottom paint was fresh.

I was watching the linkages as my wife moved the wheel and I could see it straining and binding. I’ll definitely take it apart tonight and see if it’s 1 or both that are seized.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:01 PM   #14
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Pulling the tie bar is easy to do and will tell you a lot as to where the problem is. Keep us informed.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:20 PM   #15
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If I ever saw that kind of corrosion on any bronze fitting in my boat, I'd have the take a while to recover from hyperventilating before I could even begin to form a plan. Personally, I'd be heading to the travel lift under tow to have the rudders removed for shaft inspection and probable replacement of the packing assemblies.

If you elect to clean that mess off there and actually see solid bronze, you should hammer test the fittings before proceeding. This is not a big honking whack but rather a careful taping trying to detect the soundness of the metal. If you get a thud instead of a "tink," return to paragraph one above.

Sorry for your troubles.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:21 PM   #16
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Will do. At dinner. We’ll get the kids to bed and then I’ll start working on it
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:22 PM   #17
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Should I grab some PB blaster?
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:26 PM   #18
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I don’t see that it will hurt anything except maybe damage the packing. Probably not, but I would use it as a last resort. I don’t know if it will hurt the packing or not.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:29 PM   #19
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I would certainly soak them well with nut buster or a mixture of A.T.F. and Acetone. Try working on the rudders with a wrench or "cheater pipe"

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Old 02-27-2021, 06:34 PM   #20
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A lot of other parts of the system (linkage, hydraulic ram, hydraulic pump, etc.) could be locked up making you think it is the rudder(s). A stuffing box with packing inside doesn't really have much to "seize" IMHO.
Would be unusual for both rudders to jam at once due to stuffing box. Jam is related to linkage. 1) Disconnect hydraulic ram, attempt to turn. 2) Disconnect wire cable, attempt to turn.

At some point I would wire brush the bronze and I would repack the stuffing box.
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