The Eventider's News




Issue Six, Spring/Summer 2006


Page No 2

New rudder for Molly Jade


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Budget Transom hung rudder conversion on the Molly Jade

My intention never was to try and convert Molly Jade’s rudder to transom hung for nothing. But as the project progressed, and as we have a reputation up here for being ‘tight’, thrift became more and more of a driving force.

Rudder design – Once the boat came out the water at the end of last season I photographed and measured up the aft end and old rudder. I then drew the aft end of the boat in Auto-cad. I then translated the transom hung rudder design as shown in John’s article to Auto-cad and laid it over the drawing of the boat to check proportions.

A couple of adjustments later I dimensioned up the rudder drawing and printed it out.


Rudder Materials – I wanted to make a steel rudder, after a bit of scratching around I found (in my father’s garden) an old steel heating oil tank that someone had given me years ago. For the backbone of the rudder I found and old rock drill (I think!) that I had recovered from an abandoned quarry on one of my adventures in the past.

Construction – I first made a plywood template, this I took up to the boat, nailed to a makeshift rudder stock. I tied it in position and checked that everything fitted and looked right.

Once satisfied I made a couple of adjustments and then laid the template onto the steel and drew round it. I cut out the two side panels with a jigsaw, a long and noisy job.

I then tacked one of the panels onto the backbone and tacked it on. Copying from the way a friend of mine used to make rudders for minesweepers, I made darts which I tacked to the inside of the panel to give strength and also to stop the whole affair warping when I welded it up. The opposite panel was then laid on and tacked into place with a tack every inch to stop it warping.

Gussets were then installed top and bottom to fill the gaps of the ‘V’ and I was ready to weld the whole thing up.


The skeg extension was also made on the rig, profile cut from 30mm 50D plate (very strong). Also the bottom bearing for the rudder made up from a high tensile bolt and cup and cone bearing washers used to allow bolts to be made up to high torque with little friction. Again free.

Once all the seams were fully welded I dressed the welds and rounded off the edges, which made a few holes that I spent a fun few hours chasing around to get them filled.

I then cut a piece of steel for the leading edge which I tacked on well back and persuaded into shape with a big hammer, then cut off the tacks and repositioned it and welded it into place.


That was the rudder made, total cost – zero!

At work I found a sheet of 5mm stainless plate and from that with the assistance of "Alan the Weld" we plasma cut out the parts for the transom hinge. ¾" stainless tubing was used to create the ‘holey bits’ and all this was welded up with the TIG machine. The hinge pin was fabricated from a length of 10,000 p.s.i. rated, 5/8" stainless tubing (hate to think what that cost someone!). We also made the tiller bracket.

Total cost – Bag of Minstrels (expensive!!)

For the rudder stock I found an old pitch pine joist and planed it up.





The rudder is now fitted and swings back and forward perfectly. The new tiller is under construction, but again on a budget, it is being constructed from oak floorboards left over from when we re-floored our living room.

The most costly part of the conversion has proved to be other bits of the boat affected by the rudder. The new mainsheet horse has cost me £11 for 6’ of 12 round bar, and I have yet to get a cost for the stays required to split the back stay, but I think they may break the bank.


I did get a quote (as a matter of interest) from the yard where I keep MJ for the winter, £1000 - £1200!!

Justin Findlay



April 2006

Winner of the competition for best article last issue, Justin won the 'Tiller Mate' we offered, he is back in the water and we have an update!


Hi John
Molly Jade is back in the water again, launched on Monday. A miserable experience as the weather was horrible, rain, sleet, snow and hail. When in the afternoon it cheered up a bit and I went out to do a few wee jobs, the wind picked up to a lust F6 at the mooring, I did get the dinghy up to about 20 knots on the way back to shore though!!

We went out yesterday for a wee sail, lovely day, cold clear and sunny, nice force 3 wind. We were a bit puzzled when it started snowing at one point as the nearest cloud was about 5 miles away.

Had a pleasant sail out to and around Pabbay, about 12 miles. The new rudder performed well, the boat feels a lot more stable and the heavy weather helm we were getting in gusts has more or less gone as has the vibration we always got at 4.5 knots. The new tiller is a lot better, I have made it higher off the deck and hinging, so you can now see a lot more and sit more comfortably in the cockpit. Also the new mainsheet horse makes a great backrest. I chickened out of buying a mainsheet traveller as I hate spending money I don't have to (national affliction) so I made one, which works fine and has improved our performance close hauled.


The 'Tiller Mate' you sent is very good, means you can take hands off the tiller to drink coffee and roll cigarettes without the boat veering off upwind. I have found that you can set it with enough drag that when you take hands off the tiller is held where you left it, but you can still use the tiller without any effort. Thanks.


At the moment I have it tie wrapped onto the tiller as it requires a rebate cut and I want to make sure it is in the right place before I hack lumps out of my new tiller.


I have attached some photos of the tiller/aft deck, our house taken from the boat yesterday, Missy the basset hound guarding the jib sheet and a couple of others.

Must go and tidy the house now as we have viewers tomorrow, we are buying a tin shack over on the west coast of the island with views over the western isles, so we may be living in the boat for a while until we get it renovated.
Cheers Justin