Questions about a Macgregor 26S Rudder

    I will try to answer your questions inside your email.

Paul Scaramucci wrote:

> Hello Roger,
> My name is Paul Scaramucci.  I live in Middlebury, VT and own a 93 Mac 26s
> (Stellaluna).  Like many other Mac owners, I'm planning to make a new
> rudder for my boat to improve its handling.  I've looked at your web page,
> as well as the write-up by Mike Corcoran and Robert White from the MOANE
> home page (both are great, by the way), and I have a few questions:

I am a good friend of Mike Corcoran and he lives about 15 miles from me. We have
collaborated on the rudders and other boat modifications. I also have met Bob White
and I am familiar with the rudder he built. I am also he webmaster of the MOANE web

>         - It seems that both rudder designs use pintles and gudgeons to attach
> the rudder to the transom of the boat.  Is this something I should modify
> as well?  Currently, my rudder and tiller attach to a stainless pole that
> runs through the transom.   I have more "wobble" than I would like with
> the rudder, but if I tighten it up to eliminate the wobble, then I can't
> raise or lower the rudder.  Both your design and the Corcoran/White design
> seem to use an alluminum rudder channel and stiffening plate.  Does this
> solve the "wobble" problem?  Is this something I can incoporate into the
> design for my new rudder without resorting to a pintle/gudgeon rudder
> attachment?

The Macgregor 26's built in 87,88 and 89 had the rudder mounted on the stern. The
boats made after that had the rudder like you have. Your rudder doesn't have the
black aluminum extrusion like the earlier boats but the fiberglass blade is the same.
I don't see any point in your changing to a stern mounted rudder.  You can fix the
stainless pole so that it works well.  Last year at the rendezvous in Sarasota Bay
(FL) I worked on one of the rudders like you have.
        The first problem his had was that there was wobble between the rudder blade
and the stainless plates on either side. The plates were not parallel but came
together in the back. The cure for this was to tighten the pivot bolt and then use
clamps on the plates near the front in order to bend the plates so they were parallel
and there was no wobble . The pivot bolt should hold the plates snug to the rudder
but not be tight enough to bind.
        The second trouble with his rudder was that the hole in the top of the tube
for the tiller bolt was worn and the bolt was also worn. We drilled it out to the
next larger size and used a larger bolt. The bolt should be long enough so that there
are no threads in the bearing area. You will probably need to buy the bolt so the
unthreaded part is long enough and then shorten the bolt.
        The third problem was that he was holding the blade down with shock cord. The
shock cord was not nearly strong enough. We revised the shock cord and made sure
there was enough hold down pressure.
        The owner of the boat said that it did not feel like he was sailing the same
boat. The helm that felt wobbly and gave heavy pressure to the tiller was now light
and had no slop.  You should check these things on your boat.
        The rudder blades, on the boats with the tube through the stern, hit on the
stainless bracket when they are lowered. They are usually chipped at the contact
point which allows the rudder blade to swing so the bottom is further forward than
was intended. This makes the rudder more balanced. A more balanced rudder means a
lighter force is needed to steer the boat. The older boat have no way to get the
rudder to swing down further. Therefore they must add to the front edge of the blade
in order to get lighter helm.

>         - With regard to materials, you mention that you used wood for the new
> rudder, then attached a lead weight to help it sink.  What kind of wood,
> and how did you finish it?  How did you attach the lead?

The rudder that is shown on the "Whale" web page was made of ponderosa pine. You
notice I said was. The rudder lasted half a season before it snapped. The wood was
not strong enough. Since then Mike and I have made several rudders that gave
problems. We have had a lot of warping with oak. Last year Mike made one out of 3/4
plywood laminating two pieces together. This was then covered with fiberglass. This
has worked well and we are planning to make future rudders this way. I will probably
be making one next week. The pine rudder was very light and needed the lead which was
screwed on with wood screws. The oak one I built didn't need a weight on it as it was
much heavier
        Bob White made his rudder out of poplar Which has held up well his is also
longer than Macrgregors.

>         - Are there any things you've learned since you modified your rudder that
> would cause you to change anything about the new what length
> did you finally come to feel is the best, is it better to leave the bottom
> flat, like in your photos or curved like the original design and the
> diagram that Corcoran/White posted on the MOANE page?

        The plywood rudders that we plan to build are 12 inches wide and 6 or 8
inches longer than the original. The fiberglass covering is needed to strengthen the
rudder. The leading edge will be 2 1/2 inches further forward then the original. The
shape of the bottom is a hotly debated subject. I like square and Mike likes the
front rounded a bit. Not like Macgregors with a big semi-circle.

> Thanks in advance for helping a rookie,
> Paul

I hope this helps.


Roger and Barbara sailing "Whale" 88 M26D from Hancock NH
Home page of 26C modifications
MOANE web page