KISS Designed Rudder and Tiller System

If anyone knows a simpler way to do this please let me know. The two things that guide my boat building efforts are the Kiss principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and Frugality. Yes I’m a tightwad. I won’t spend money I don’t have to and I hate complexity for complexities sake. My boats are for sailing not looking at and “workboat-finish” is fine with me. Your “workboat-finish” is probably a lot better than mine. When Larry the Cable Guy said: “Git ‘er done!” I paid attention.

On to the matter at hand, the rudder assembly I use on my PDR. Since the Armed Forces decided to use picture books to ease the learning curve I will do likewise to claify my points so the text will be kept mostly to explaining the pictures.

Picture #1 shows the parts. From left to right are, hiking stick, long chord for controlling the rudder, short chord for attaching the hiking stick to the tiller, pin for mounting the rudder assembly to the boat transom, rudder head and rudder assembly.

Picture #2 shows the LR in place and the pin being removed.

Picture #3 shows rudder in place with the pin securing things. The rudder blade is held in place with a ½” stainless steel bolt that has washers on both sides and is double-nuted to secure the bolt and allow adjusting the tension for the rudder swing. The starboard side of the rudder head cover is held on with two screws and a screw eye. The eye is for the rudder hold down chord routing. There is a screw eye on top of the rudder head for routing the pull-up chord and a blue ¾” PVC pipe double jam cleat. On the starboard side of the rudder housing, the cover, is removable once the rudder blade has been taken out.

Picture #4 shows the full rudder assembly installed and ready for the control chords to be hooked up. The piece at right angles to the rudder blade contains lead to take the blade down in the water enough for the hold-down chord to pull it into a full down position. It also has a screw eye on top for attaching the pull-up chord.

Picture #5 shows the longer chord with a stop knot threaded through the pull-up hole in the rudder blade.

Picture #6 shows the other end of the long chord tied to the screw eye on the top of the rudder blade weight with a bowline.

Picture #7 shows the long chord is fed through the screw eye on top of the rudder head.

Picture #8 shows my two-way jam cleat. As you can see this is a piece of ¾” PVC schedule 40 pipe about 6” long and tapered on the ends to let the screwdriver get to the screws when mounting. There is a vee notch cut into the top on the tiller end for rudder control and the side notch’s purpose will become evident in a moment.

Picture #9 shows how to continue the loop of chord through the jam cleat.

Picture #10 shows the rudder control chord in place and ready to use.

Picture #11 shows the jam cleat in use holding the rudder up. I leave the chord permanently on the rudder assembly and remove and install it with the rudder locked in the up position. In use I launch with the rudder cleated up and when in deep enough water release the chord letting the rudder drop and pull the other side of the chord’s loop to get the rudder into the down position and then cleat that side to hold it down. The vee cuts in the pipe that make the jamming slot are angled in so they offer a sharper edge to grip the chord.

Picture #12 shows the a close up of the cleat in use so you can get an idea of how it works. I have used this same type of cleat to hold a mainsheet and not had one fail yet. If it does wear or become damaged then a drill, saw and a buck for a 6” piece of PVC pipe and a couple of screws will solve the problem. I have used a 2” PVC jam cleat to hold the halyard and downhaul on a bamboo mast with two screws holding it and and two long electrical tie-wraps around the assembly for insurance. It held for me. In fact if you’ve seen my maiden video that’s how the standing lug was set up.

Now on to the hiking stick.

Picture #13 shows my hiking stick and about a foot of chord with a stopper knot on one end.

Picture #14 shows the chord through the hiking stick and resting on the tiller arm. Notice the two holes in the tiller arm. This is what we are going to use to attach it.

Picture #15 shows the the chord threaded down through the end hole and back up through the other one. Snug it all up and pass the end of the short chord through the tiller cleat in the opposite direction to the rudder control chord. (From the front of the boat towards the back.)

Picture #16 shows the chord snugged up and captured by the vee notch on the rudder end of the jam cleat. Tighten or loosen this to give the feel you like.

Picture #17 shows the the completed assembly ready for the water with hiking stick installed and rudder up and ready.

If you think there are too many loose ends hanging down then tidy them up any way you want. A possible option would be to use some bungee rubber in the rudder blade hold down position to avoid anything bad happening if the rudder hits an obstruction but I have used this system on several boats and not had any trouble so far. BTW. The tiller is removable with 3 screws and can be replaced by a Tee-Head-Arm for "rope loop steering or a push pull setup.

If you want to try this and have any questions you can contact me through the pdracer member list.

Clear skies and fair winds to all.
Steve. AKA: Cybernaught