Nor’West 33 Rudders — Haven’t You Always Wondered?

Haven’t you always wondered how the rudder on a Nor’West 33 is put together? Sat around scratching your head, consulting google, Calder, and all other holy reference materials, trying to figure it out?

I thought so.

Ever since we read the line “small amount of play between the rudder and the rudder shaft” in the 2005 survey (that the previous owner had done), we’ve known that we would need to dig in to the problem and determine exactly what the cause was. Rudders being, you know, a little important to a sailboat.

So without further ado, please allow me to overwhelm you with the trivial minutiae that make up our daily existence (aka photos of every detail on this damn rudder):

The Source of All Our Fun: The Rudder (Bronze rudder cap recently unveiled at the top)


The problem was that the rudder could be moved a very small amount (less than 1/8″) independently of the rudder shaft. (Sing along with me: “The rudder is connected to the… rudder cap, the rudder cap is connected to the… rudder shaft, the rudder shaft’s connected to the… steering quadrant, the steering quadrant’s connected to the… steering wheel…lala deeda lala”)


Close up of the rudder cap. The play we've discovered is between the bronze cap and the actual shaft (also bronze). Here Jon is working on removing the second bolt that connects the two.

We thought that once we’d taken out the two pins, the rudder would spin completely independently of the rudder shaft. But it didn’t! (Are you with me? Are you feeling the excitement?? Can you stand the tension?!?!). A new mystery… until this discovery was made:


Which means good things for us. Since we can now see where the play comes from (a small amount of wear between the key and the shaft), and we can see that we have some redundancy in the system (from the 2 bolts), we can actually cross this project off of the “urgent to do list” and move it to the “to be monitored over the next few years list”. That never happens around here!!

Now to balance out the workyard boat-project photos… here are a few from our last days in the water.

Brio looking quite pretty (if I do say so myself) at anchor in San Carlos


Token self-shot from our last little dinghy trip around the bay


Brio being hauled -- we were sitting in 5'6" of water when they got to us (we draw 5'4"), but we made it 🙂


Nor’West 33 Rudders — Haven’t You Always Wondered? — 2 Comments

  1. Hullo. At the moment considering purchasing a Nor West 33, do you recommend the boat which would be used as a cruiser. I am of a somewhat advanced age, do you think it suitable for an old guy to mess around in doing nothing serious except coastal cruising etc. Would appreciate your comments. Regards. Bob, Sydney, Australia.

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