So a couple weeks ago, I was finally able to get my wife out on the boat, even if it was just a brief trip to motor around for a hour.

During the trip back into the marina, I noticed the rudder was feeling quite sluggish and loose. It certainly wasn’t a loose tiller since I had recently repaired that.

I looked down at the bottom of the rudder and saw what was wiggling….the lower gudgeon was extremely loose.

Not my boat, but here's the external view of the lower gudgeon and pintle attached to rudder

Not my boat, but here’s the external view of the lower gudgeon and pintle attached to rudder

A gudgeon is mounted to the transom and has a fitting designed to hold a pintle, which is attached to the rudder. This system allows the rudder to be mounted on the transom (stern).

Lower gudgeon bolts

Lower gudgeon bolts

I’m able to access the lower gudgeon bolts from inside at the aft of my starboard quarter berth. Thankfully there’s a small access panel. That’s when I noticed just how much the nuts had backed off. I also saw (and I’m sure you noticed too) how damn small the original washers are! They’re not distributing any of the load, just digging into the transom board.

So I got the larger washers, but when I tried to get that blob of stuff off, it was extremely difficult. I’m assuming it’s some type of epoxy or 1979 version of lock-tite. It was somewhat brittle, so I was able to remove most of it as you can see on the left bolt. But it was still too embedded in the threads and I couldn’t remove the nut to replace the washers.

I re-tightened the nuts in the meantime, but my next step is to get a wire wheel and get the threads cleaned off. In addition to the bigger washers, I’m also going to fashion a backing plate that covers all three bolts to help distribute the load. That should prevent me ever having to make any any more repairs on this.

I’m also hoping the upper gudgeon continues to hold tight because it doesn’t look like there’s any way to access it like I can this lower one.

Stay tuned for updates.