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Controls for a Macgregor 26 Rudder (88-89)

on "Whale"

During the last year I have been working on my rudder and its controls. This article discusses the controls for raising and lowering the blade. The goal was to make the rudder lift and lower easily and provide a safety release if the rudder hits bottom or snags something.

The first picture is of the down haul system. There is a rope that goes through the rudder and has a knot in it. This rope then goes through the pulley on the aluminum channel. (So far just like the original) The rope has a bowline in the end keeping the rope as short as possible. Next there are three loops of 5/16 shock cord. The other end of the shock cord is fastened to a pulley. I fastened a block of wood to the channel at the top so I could mount a pulley on it. The goal was to have the rope turn in line with the tiller pivot bolt so the rope would not change length when the tiller was raised. The block of wood is held to the channel with a bolt and an eye bolt. The top rope starts at the eye bolt, goes through the pulley attached to the shock cord and back up and through the pulley on the block of wood then forward on the tiller to the clam cleat. The set up gives a 2:1 purchase to make the control easy. The shock cord ensures that the rudder is always fully down and provides protection if the rudder hits bottom or gets caught on something. I sail where there are lobster pots all over the place and I am always running them down.


The second picture shows the other side of the channel which has the up haul rope. Attached to the rudder is a stainless steel tang that is 10 inches long. The tang has a pulley on the end which has the rope for raising the rudder going through it. This rope also starts at the eye bolt that holds the block of wood (The wooden blocks which are attached to the top of the channel have a notch in the back to go over the tiller bolt.) to the channel goes through the pulley on the tang and back through the pulley on the block and forward to the cleat. The purpose of the tang is to make it possible to attach the lift line further down on the rudder in order to get a better mechanical advantage. I first used a rope for this but it vibrated when the boat was sailing. The tang is thin and goes through the water without fuss.

The third picture shows the rudder in the fully down position. In the picture you can see how the new rudder was shaped to move the area further forward to provide a light touch to the tiller. Since the new rudder is made of wood it wants to float. At the bottom of the rudder you can see the lead weight which helps to sink the rudder. Before the weight was added I had to hang over the stern and put my foot on the rudder to get it to go down.

In addition to these modifications I have added a "Tiller Stay" to the boat. The "Tiller Stay" does the same job as the "Tiller Tamer" but works smoother. The "Tiller Stay" is adjusted for a light friction on the tiller and makes it so that I can let go of the tiller anytime and the tiller will not move. This allows me to adjust sails or do other short jobs without the boat changing course.

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