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!