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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Caribbean
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    2,262

    Default New yachts rudder bearing failures

    We met a lovely couple who came over to the Caribbean on the 2018 ARC they have a Jeanneau 54 that is still in warranty. Apparently they have warranty work needed. The rudder bearings need replacing! They said all the Atlantic down wind sailing was hard on the bearings! I may be wrong but I would have thought that was the least load on rudder bearings. He also said that lots of boats had rudder bearing issues following the ARC. Since most boats on the ARC in 2018 were less than three years old, what is going on with these modern boats and rudder design? I cant imagine buying a new boat and having rudder bearings issues in such a short space of time

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    North Wales, sailing Aegean Sea or Menai Strait
    Posts
    21,587

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Were these all rolling element bearings? There seems to be a trend to fit them now, especially on larger boats where they will reduce friction compared with a plain bearing. However, rolling element bearings are not very long-lasting in oscillation and this may be the cause of the problems. Bearings with cages are more susceptible but angular contact types with cages accept axial thrust and are probably the type selected.
    Answers to some technical queries at new website http://coxeng.co.uk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Devon
    Posts
    2,202

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Rudder bearings get a pretty hard time sailing downwind in any waves, as the steering movement is greater and the loads higher as you try to stop the boat being pushed off course from the following waves and it's constant for 20 days or more. So 480 hours of wear at quite high loads is probably more than many boats will see over a couple of years of weekend sailing. We also saw a boat where the hull had cracked around the rudder bearing which was brand new so the owners were looking at warranty repairs.

    The thing is there are now far better materials than Delrin as a plain bush and rolling element bearings have their downsides. It would be interesting to know what types of rudder bearing had issues.
    quicKutter rope cutter, shaft and rudder bearings
    www.h4marine.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    36,287

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    A lot of yachts, it seems to me the autopilot is on a mission to wear out the bearings, needlessly sawing the wheel from side to side?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    up on the moors.
    Posts
    33,154

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    There is a not uncommon cause of roller bearing failure called "brinelling" where instead of a rotary load, there is a side to side linear load which causes the balls to make dents in the bearing races. This can set off corrosion , distortion, spalling leading to bearing seizure or other failure.

    The rolling motion of a boat going downwind may generate alternating lateral loads on the rudder and transfer these to the stock and bearings.

    I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Mooring, Faro
    Posts
    1,348

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Would be interesting to know if all the failures are on spade rudders. Don't understand the explanation about bearing failures above, vehicles go tens of thousands of miles with much higher stress on wheel bearings which can be either ball or roller.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Caribbean
    Posts
    2,262

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_Y View Post
    Rudder bearings get a pretty hard time sailing downwind in any waves, as the steering movement is greater and the loads higher as you try to stop the boat being pushed off course from the following waves and it's constant for 20 days or more. So 480 hours of wear at quite high loads is probably more than many boats will see over a couple of years of weekend sailing. We also saw a boat where the hull had cracked around the rudder bearing which was brand new so the owners were looking at warranty repairs.

    The thing is there are now far better materials than Delrin as a plain bush and rolling element bearings have their downsides. It would be interesting to know what types of rudder bearing had issues.
    I have no idea what kind of bearings are installed in modern production boats but surely a single Atlantic crossing should not be enough to wear the bearings out? It sounds like it was a common problem. Are modern 54 ft production boats built for just weekend sailing?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Caribbean
    Posts
    2,262

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham376 View Post
    Would be interesting to know if all the failures are on spade rudders. Don't understand the explanation about bearing failures above, vehicles go tens of thousands of miles with much higher stress on wheel bearings which can be either ball or roller.
    I think most modern production boats these days use spade rudders. The loads on the bearings must be considerably more than those rudders mounted on skegs.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Mooring, Faro
    Posts
    1,348

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Quote Originally Posted by geem View Post
    Are modern 54 ft production boats built for just weekend sailing?
    In theory no but, accountants are too involved with reducing production costs these days and spade rudders much cheaper to build than a decently supported skeg.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boat (now back in) the Clyde
    Posts
    5,287

    Default Re: New yachts rudder bearing failures

    Was on ARC 2018 and didn't hear any chat on the dock at St Lucia about a lot of rudder bearing issues. Ripped sails yes. Rudder bearings not convinced- though a few older boats did have a couple of unrelated failures.
    Plenty of wheel twiddling in 3000 miles quite fast downwind though

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