Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Corroded Radial Drive Wheel

When Ken and I were cleaning out the aft locker of our cockpit recently, we noticed that our drive wheel had a lot of surface corrosion ... ugh!  The drive wheel controls the boat's rudder through the steering wheel, so like everything on a boat ... it's important.  The aft locker shouldn't be getting wet, so we were surprised to find this.  After further inspection, we noticed that the drive wheel was wet at the center, where it meets the rudder post.   We then noticed that the aluminum emergency tiller head has little cracks around the perimeter ... maybe this is the source of the problem.   Some tape on it for a quick, temporary fix.

Emergency tiller head, with plenty of cracks for water to seep through ..

We had big plans of installing our lazy jacks and new sail pack this past weekend, but rain messed that all up.  However, Sunday afternoon was dry and overcast.  Ken decided to clean a couple of winches (see how here), since we have seven of them.  Hurricane Isaac made an unexpected visit after he cleaned one for the first time last year, interrupting his plans to clean the others.

Since it was a cloudy afternoon and actually pleasant outside, I figured I'd take advantage of the weather and clean our drive wheel while Ken was cleaning the winches.  I lightly sanded some of the corrosion off, but the area around the rudder post had a moist layer of crud on it.  I started getting this off with my fingernails, and then came up with the bright idea to use a little screwdriver ... I'm such a genius, right.  I was careful not to scratch the surface, and about 2 hours later I had removed just about all of the crud.  Removing the crud wasn't hard, but reaching it wasn't an easy task!  Getting to the drive wheel required bending over the aft locker with my butt in the air, burying  my head inside, working upside down, and reaching my hands into tiny little crevices.  I'd loosen the crud with the screwdriver, then use it and my fingers to remove it.  Two days later, my butt and legs are still sore!

My work area .. the aft locker and emergency tiller head (behind the wheel, back of cockpit).

When opening the aft locker, there's a removable piece of fiberglass which leads to the drive wheel.

  Using our camera to get in areas we can't, we're able to see the wheel a little better.  Pic below ... top of the wheel.  All the brown stuff in the middle is the crud that I removed.

Another view of the top ...

The wheel ... side view

The bottom of the wheel ... gonna need to clean this real soon from our quarter berth.

After removing all the crud, I wiped the wheel lightly with some paint thinner.  The "after" picture below looks a bit better ...

than the "before" picture.

Ken cleaned a couple of winches, then had dinner coming off the grill as I got out of the shower.  Perfect timing!

If you have any suggestions as to what we can do to prevent further corrosion, feel free to share!  Obviously, we've got to seal the emergency tiller head, but any suggestions regarding that or what we can spray on the wheel ... or anything would be welcomed.

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising! 


Sandee said...

We know nothing about this kind of repair except call the mechanic. I know Ken does his own, but hubby not that talented.

It's always something with boats. Always something. Bugger.

Have a terrific day. ☺

Carolyn Shearlock - The Boat Galley said...

Boeshield works on most metals. We used tons of it.

Anonymous said...

Use Zinc Chromate as it adheres to aluminum, it is a god awlful green but it helps to slow down the corrosion. Most airplanes are coated internally with it, especially is they are seaplanes.

S/V Iron Jack said...

Use zinc chromate primer, available at hardware stores. Used as a primer on aluminum.

Dave Santangelo said...

Zinc Chromate is more of a primer and is microscopically porous. It will also eventually flake off. Super lube on the cables and WD-40 on the radial drive. And a new rudder washer underneath your tiller head... possibly one that's oversized slightly on the OD to better cover the hole.

How were your cables for condition and taughtness? Did you ever drop the rudder and check for pitting on the shaft? Now would be a good time to see if the sea gods are tellinh you it's time to replace it... possibly with my elliptical one: http://s44.photobucket.com/albums/f17/kaptaindave/Rudder-C30/?action=view&current=DSCN6768.jpg

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