After scouring the interweb and reading the forums over at the Pearson Ariel Association, I think I’ve gathered enough information to start construction on the boat’s new rudder. There are two schools of thought on rebuilding the rudder on an Ariel- copy the original hardwood-plank style or encapsulate in fiberglass. I’ve been vacillating between the two, but I’ve finally decided to go with the glassed version.
The plank style rudder requires tight-grained quarter-sawn boards of either teak, mahagony, locust, or white oak cut from the north side of the tree on a full moon in December. Not really, but those wooden boat guys take that stuff pretty seriously. I found a couple of places where quarter-sawn white oak was available, but the other species are prohibitively expensive. The plank-style rudder also requires holes to be drilled edge-wise through the boards for the drift bolts that hold the rudder together; this is something that I don’t have the tools for and I’m not confident in my ability to do accurately.
The glassed rudder’s primary drawback is that the expansion rate of the bronze rudderstock and the fiberglass encapsulating the rudder is different, which results in leaks over time. I think a careful job, high-quality marine-grade plywood, and liberal application of chemicals will result in acceptable longevity.
Another advantage of fiberglass rudders is shipworms don’t eat them.
So with all that in mind I traced the old rudder, made a rough template, and tried it on for size.
Next I set to work removing the old rudder from the rudder stock. I fired up the skill saw and was greeted with a god-awful grinding sound, the result of a bent saw tooth rattling around in the blade guard, courtesy of my prior attempts at rudder surgery. I removed the “abscess” with the dremel tool and we were off to the races.
A few cutting discs, a bruised knuckle, a litany of profanity and blasphemy later the upper half of the rudderstock is free. I’ll get the lower half and slap some more paint on the hull soon, just as soon as it stops raining.