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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone, I hope everybody is doing well.

If anyone has a moment, I would like to get some suggestions on an issue that I need to address. The tiller on a newly acquired sailboat has a void. There is ordinarily a hole in the tiller where you can add an extension. I'm not exactly sure how this happened, but the wood around the hole for the tiller extension failed. I was looking at options for filling the gap and creating a new hole to accept the extension. I contacted the System Three and asked about using T88, which I have available. They were concerned that the void was too large and suggested that I layer the T88 in 3/8" sections to avoid excessive heat buildup and potential failure. I thought this forum might be able to suggest some alternatives. I'll attach some pictures of the tiller.

I also considered trying to cut a small piece of hardwood and epoxy it in to reduce the size of the void.

Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you in advance!
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Guy, can you post a photo of the whole tiller from a distance to show where the damage is ?
and - what kind of stress is in that area where the metal goes through the hole ?
 

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From what I can see, the rear section of the tiller is a total loss. If the tiller is just a long 'stick' with bolts to metal securing it to the rudder, I would replace the tiller. Even if you tried to sister on a new piece, most of the existing piece would have to go.
The damage is extensive in a most important place.
Keep in mind that the safety of you and your boat are at severe risk, not 'if' but 'when the tiller fails.
I can see it now...........nice day on the water, a quick squall comes through with 25K winds and you with a jury rigged tiller that would probably flex even if it were new tiller. However, your jury rigged tiller would possibly be stiffer than a new one and then C-R-A-C-K !
.Hope that scares you
 

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it appears from the photo the wood did not "fail" - it rotted out.
considering the consequences of "Look Ma! no tiller!" - there's no fix I would trust.
a complete rebuild is in order.
 

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a broken tiller out on open water is not going to turn out good.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies ! The tiller is actually in good condition with the exception of where the tiller extension hole had been. If I wanted ensure the integrity of the tiller, I could literally cut it where the extension hole is - sand it down smooth and drill a new hole for the tiller extension. I would lose about 6.5" of length - but that should not affect the overall operation. That's my plan B if the repair doesn't hold - best case scenario would be an epoxy putty that I can I can add a wood tint to. I have an A/B epoxy that's white that I've used for underwater repair in an IGP - It says it's good for wood, but not sure this is the right application. I definitely will look at a replacement, but hoping that's plan C for this summer coming up

More pictures below - happy to send close ups or additional pics. Thanks again !!

Duct tape was simply to hold the epoxy in place - that's not actually doing anything
 

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so, this is a tiller "extension" and not the tiller itself ?
for the amount of wood involved, and the time it would take to make another one,
there is no way I would fiddle around trying to fix it. (but, that's just me).
make a new one - and next time when you start to see issues, take care of it then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is the actual tiller - the area that is "rotted out" had a hole in the center where you would insert a tiller extension. That would allow someone to steer the boat from the cabin as opposed to the cockpit. I just took possession of the boat the other day so I can't be sure what actually happened.
 

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Aside from this thread, what kind of sailboat did you buy and do you have any previous sailing experience?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's a Rhodes 22 - and Yes I have had several sailboats over the years. I don't believe the pictures are illustrating how the tiller attaches to rudder - the integrity of the tiller is fine with the exception of where the extension connects. Despite the comments above, there is no risk "losing" my tiller due to the damage in the photos. We can scrap this thread, I'll figure it out.
 

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The Rhodes 22 is a nice sailboat. has nice lines.
I sailed mostly the ******* Riviera off the Mississippi coast.
Also did some sailing off the Texas Coast.
My first sailboat was an old el cheapo McGregor 25 with a swing Keel
It sure did get around though
 

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if you just want to patch it, I would mix a handful of rough-chip sawdust with epoxy and pack the cavity tight as you can get it and drill a new hole. (saturate the raw wood in the handle first for good adhesion)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you John - I was considering trying something like that.

Yes, the Rhodes 22 has a good reputation - I'm excited to test it. I don't want you guys to think I'm irresponsible, but I got this boat for an excellent price and I'm trying to determine whether I'm going to restore it, or sell it. My main objective right now is to get this into the water and start identifying what exactly it needs. There is a lot of rigging that needs to be addressed immediately. I haven't even had an opportunity get a good look at the sails, but I understand they're in "descent" shape. Engine is good. If it turns out that I'm going to keep this boat, I would definitely invest the money in a new tiller.

Appreciate the help - and hopefully the boat stays afloat. Included a pic what I'm dealing with
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Nice lookin'.
Over the years I have learned that the sooner you get to sail it, the more you will enjoy working on it. If it is just an investment, you will reach a point that you will hate working on it.
I have had several boats in the past, both winners and losers. My attitude in the past 20 years years has been 'if you cant sail it and motor it the fist day you own it, dont buy it'. That's just me though. It took me 2 losers to get to this point.
Fair Winds
 

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Since you don't want to replace it I would cut out the rot back to solid wood. You may find it is worse than it looks too. But make it a nice smooth notch and then glue in a big Dutchman. You would want a very good fit of the glue is not going to hold. A sloppy fit is just asking for it to fail.

There is no good way I see other than replacing the rot with good wood with a good glue joint.
 

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I'm sure you already saw this, but in case you haven't, it is very interesting reading.
Well made boat
 

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you could cut out a chunk and patch it in, but it wouldn't look as nice as all the curved lamination.
carve, file or grind out any wood that looks iffy. if you can flex the handle to open up those cracks on top. flex the cracks open and run some thin super glue in every crack you can and clamp it tight for a while. then do the epoxy repair to the missing piece. if you are familiar with fiberglass you could put a couple layers of thin matt over the patched area, a couple layers will still allow the grain to show thru and add substantial strength to the repair. tight curves like that can be a bear to fiberglass, the cloth is stiff and will want to pull up, creating bubbles. cut the matt into thin 1/2"x6" strips might assist in laying flat, use 1/2"x8" strips for the next layer
 

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for the record, this is 6 layers of 1/2 oz matt on printed cardboard in the bottom of my console in my avatar truk
obviously my milwaukee V18 stuff was new enough that i still had the box laying around. wood grain will show thru 2 layers just fine, especially for the added strength

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Are you planning to drill it for the tiller extension again? If not, you could fill it with thickened epoxy or a wood patch and do a rope wrap around that area to strengthen it a bit and provide a decorative wrap. (see link to video)


I once shortened a tiller to "fix" a crack and the loss of leverage was noticeable.

Alternatively, you can get a new tiller for $125 - https://anytiller.com/stock-tiller

If it's going to get drilled again for an extension, I don't think I'd trust the repair.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Everyone – Great suggestions. I still haven’t done anything with the tiller. I’m not sure whether I’m going to drill or leave a hole for the tiller extension, or just seal the entire thing.

Just out of curiosity, if I try to fit in a Dutchman – what kind of wood would you suggest I use ? I know it’s a hardwood, but not sure whether the tiller is teak, mahogany, etc ? Does it matter ? I might have Oak

The replacement tiller is listed at $395.00, so If the “Stock Tiller B- Unfinished” is the correct dimensions, $125.00 is a very reasonable price. I’ll definitely check that out. Either way, I’m going to attempt a repair on this one. My fiberglass work is poor at best. I can slop it on to stop leaks in the bottom of my dinghy, but rarely have I made anything look good. I’ll post back to thread once I do something .

Appreciate the help!
 
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