DTA

How to Fix RS CAT 14 Crossbar "In The Field"

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So my planned trip down to Big Shell Beach (in yellow) in my RS CAT 14 did not go as planned (sail out in pink; sail back in red). Lightning drove me close to shore so that I sailed ~100 yards outside the breakers. I then got caught by several fishing lines of a shark fisherman who had kayaked his lines far offshore. The fishing lines eventually broke my rudder crossbar. Below is my plan to better prepare for this kind of failure in the future, especially when sailing to a remote location with no possibility of support. I'm curious if the board has a better backup plan than what I plan below.

I'm not sure how rudder crossbars work on other CATs, but on the RS Cat14 the rudder crossbar is hollow. At each end of the rudder crossbar is a hole into which a hard rubber plug is inserted. The part of this plug that remains outside the crossbar has a standard male rectangle, which fits into the complementary female rectangle on the rudder tiller. 

The rubber plug stays inside the crossbar by virtue of two rivets. Each of these two rivets are shot about 1/5 of the way into the rubber plug. This keeps the rubber plugs securely inside of the rudder crossbar. Except, of course, when there are several fishing lines applying strange forces on the rudders, which rip one of the rubber plugs out of the rudder crossbar. And then, of course, it's impossible to re-insert the rubber plug into the crossbar because the rivets remain in the crossbar and refuse entry to the rubber plug.

In this instance, I was able to borrow fishing line and piano wire from the shark fisherman and thereby connect the crossbar to the rudder tiller in very crude fashion (see pic below). And by cutting the plug short so that it only inserted as far as the first rivet, I was at least able to insert the rubber plug a very small ways into the crossbar which gave some minimal stability. However, the plug kept popping out if I hit a wave, at which point the entire system would wobble because the crossbar was only loosely connected to the rudder tiller. Although this solution got me home, I was lucky to have calm winds and seas. I don't think it would have held together very well in rougher conditions. As a result, I'm looking for a backup plan in case this happens again in the future.

Unfortunately, the only thing I can think of is to carry a backup rudder crossbar on my next long distance trip. I'll order a new crossbar, and then fix up the current crossbar by drilling out the rivets, inserting a new rubber plug, and then re-riveting. However, carrying a backup crossbar does kind of suck. I'd rather just carry smaller parts to fix it on the fly, but I can't think of how to do so.

Any ideas? Also, why do you think the manufacturer would keep the plug secure with a couple rivets that only go 1/5 into the rubber plug, rather than a screw or bolt that goes all the way through the rubber plug and comes out the other side of the crossbar? That seems like it would prevent this sort of problem from happening in the first place. But, of course, there's probably something I'm missing.

Thanks in advance for any ideas you have about how to minimize my repair kit and keep from carrying a completely new crossbar on my future trips.

BigShellBeachTrip.thumb.JPG.efe0d0d1478a2140f02916f6d092ffca.JPG

CrossbarPic1.thumb.JPG.26c7fd2678eff32cea01cb5ddb6e5511.JPG

 

CrossbarPic2.thumb.JPG.3a203cbe6d35a3a4a47357e3035c06aa.JPG

 

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It's an interesting problem. One question you need to ask is what would have happened if the fitting had not pulled out. Sometimes, you improve the strength of one part of a system only to have another fail. While this weakness may not have been deliberate, it might have saved a more major failure.

I also think this is unlikely to be a common problem, so carrying a spare cross bar is probably overkill.

The set up is very common on cats, although I am not sure about the sue of rivets.

I would drill out the rivets and replace them with short screws that only go in the same amount as the rivets. That should allow the fitting to pull out with about the same load. Then all you need to do is carry a spare Universal Joint (this is the name for the fitting you describe) and a screw driver, which you should be carrying anyway. It would seem a good idea to carry a spare joint anyway, because I suspect that there are 3 on the boat (the 2 cross bar ends and the tiller extension).

You should also have been carrying enough spares to have handled this repair without needing to get bits from others. Besides a multi-tool (leatherman or similar) you should carry short lengths of various sized rope and a piece of shock cord, shackles, clevis pins and split rings, tape. The further you are going, the more you need to take. I am sure others will have ideas of what else you should carry. Maybe start another thread.

BTW, why do you keep posting in dinghy anarchy with cat questions?

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3 hours ago, A Class Sailor said:

I

BTW, why do you keep posting in dinghy anarchy with cat questions?

Because DTA is a dinghy legend - wave sailing lasers and an aero, single handing a 700, and now into a cat ... an inspiration to all us late 40's guys to get out there and simply give it a rip!!!!

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Add some hose clamps to the A Class list of spares. Small ones for rudder tubing and some big enough to go around spars. You can unscrew small ones and join them together to make bigger ones in a pinch.

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3 hours ago, Stanno said:

Because DTA is a dinghy legend - wave sailing lasers and an aero, single handing a 700, and now into a cat ... an inspiration to all us late 40's guys to get out there and simply give it a rip!!!!

You want legend? Find out what happened to the Aero

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10 hours ago, sail(plane) said:

Cant you just bolt the plugs yourself and end with a stronger system?

You know, I was thinking of doing just that: drill a hole opposite the rivet hole and drill a small bolt through the rubber Universal Joint. But A Class Sailor made a good point. What if that Universal Joint hadn't have ripped out? Maybe the tiller would have broken off from the rudder, or the rudder would have broken off from the sleeves holding it to the boat. So, maybe it's a feature rather than a bug that the Universal Joint failed when it did.

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16 minutes ago, DTA said:

You know, I was thinking of doing just that: drill a hole opposite the rivet hole and drill a small bolt through the rubber Universal Joint. But A Class Sailor made a good point. What if that Universal Joint hadn't have ripped out? Maybe the tiller would have broken off from the rudder, or the rudder would have broken off from the sleeves holding it to the boat. So, maybe it's a feature rather than a bug that the Universal Joint failed when it did.

I´m not sure they designed it as a fuse, although it may end up working as such IN SOME CASES. Will not work as a fuse for all kinds of other forces your rudders may encounter in the future. There are any number of systems in your boat that don´t have a fuse. So I´m not sure I see the need for having a weak link. It won´t save you from avoiding shit... and shit happening!

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9 hours ago, A Class Sailor said:

It's an interesting problem. One question you need to ask is what would have happened if the fitting had not pulled out. Sometimes, you improve the strength of one part of a system only to have another fail. While this weakness may not have been deliberate, it might have saved a more major failure.

I also think this is unlikely to be a common problem, so carrying a spare cross bar is probably overkill.

The set up is very common on cats, although I am not sure about the sue of rivets.

I would drill out the rivets and replace them with short screws that only go in the same amount as the rivets. That should allow the fitting to pull out with about the same load. Then all you need to do is carry a spare Universal Joint (this is the name for the fitting you describe) and a screw driver, which you should be carrying anyway. It would seem a good idea to carry a spare joint anyway, because I suspect that there are 3 on the boat (the 2 cross bar ends and the tiller extension).

You should also have been carrying enough spares to have handled this repair without needing to get bits from others. Besides a multi-tool (leatherman or similar) you should carry short lengths of various sized rope and a piece of shock cord, shackles, clevis pins and split rings, tape. The further you are going, the more you need to take. I am sure others will have ideas of what else you should carry. Maybe start another thread.

BTW, why do you keep posting in dinghy anarchy with cat questions?

Thanks A Class Sailorthat's good advice. I'm not sure though if a screw would hold tight to the Universal joint the way the rivet does. I would think that the screw would jiggle around in the hole in the crossbar a bit. But what I think I will do is try to figure out some way to remove the rivet in the field, and then use your screw idea as a backup. I carry a small but strong collapsible camp shovel, which could double as a hammer, and a flat-head screw-driver might double as a chisel. I'll give it a go at home in my garage to see if that can work.

By the way, I had no idea that the Universal Joint was an industry standardized thingie! So, if I understand you correctly, I don't need to buy that part from RS Sailing. I can just go to Amazon and buy this (which does indeed look like it):

https://www.amazon.com/Nautos-HT5098-Flexible-Tiller-HPN470/dp/B071GD66MM/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1536067710&sr=8-6&keywords=universal+joint+sailing

Thanks! I feel silly for not knowing that!!!

And roger that on carrying more stuff to repair this in the field. To be honest, I didn't really understand exactly how the crossbar and Universal Joint worked before I broke it, so I wouldn't have known how to prepare for fixing it in case of a failure. While I'm getting my feet wet with this long(er) distance sailing, I'm trying to be safe by sailing in onshore winds in mild-to-moderate conditions and trying to plan my adventures so that if I blow up onshore with a broken boat I'm no more than a 50 mile walk from civilization. I always carry plenty of water and a small backpack so that I can just walk out if worst came to worse.

Regarding posting in this forum, I don't know - I just know the guys who prowl around on this dinghy board. This is where I've lived for years while dinghy sailing. I pop over to the CAT board for super-specific CAT stuff (e.g. CAT Trax), but I try to hang out w/ my old peeps on this board when I can.

 

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5 minutes ago, sail(plane) said:

I´m not sure they designed it as a fuse, although it may end up working as such IN SOME CASES. Will not work as a fuse for all kinds of other forces your rudders may encounter in the future. There are any number of systems in your boat that don´t have a fuse. So I´m not sure I see the need for having a weak link. It won´t save you from avoiding shit... and shit happening!

I still may end up putting a bolt straight through per your suggestion (and my own original inclination). It's just weird, because once I got back home safely, I tried pulling the other Universal Joint out by hand and couldn't. So, in my mind, some really weird monstrously large force was somehow generated amongst all those fishing lines, and it seems like something else would have broken had the UJ not ripped out. Plus, I seem to have a penchant for getting wrapped up in fishing line!

So, still not sure which solution I'll pursue.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Dex Sawash said:

Add some hose clamps to the A Class list of spares. Small ones for rudder tubing and some big enough to go around spars. You can unscrew small ones and join them together to make bigger ones in a pinch.

Dex - at first I wasn't understanding how hose clamps would be helpful. But now I think I understand. Do you mean use hose clamps to attach to the rudder tiller, and then I would have a better platform to which to attach line, wire, whatever, in order to jerry-rig a solution? That makes sense; but I just wanted to make sure I understood you correctly.

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20 minutes ago, DTA said:

I still may end up putting a bolt straight through per your suggestion (and my own original inclination). It's just weird, because once I got back home safely, I tried pulling the other Universal Joint out by hand and couldn't. So, in my mind, some really weird monstrously large force was somehow generated amongst all those fishing lines, and it seems like something else would have broken had the UJ not ripped out. Plus, I seem to have a penchant for getting wrapped up in fishing line!

So, still not sure which solution I'll pursue.

 

 

well, If the original design is not actually weak, then you can just rivet it back in as it was and not mess around modifying things. 

I also get yelled at regularly for snagging fishing lines. I try to pass at a prudent distance of anybody that might be fishing but I´ve been surprised by how far those lines go. And sometimes I have no choice, if they are fishing in the channel I need to go in because I can´t sail over the sandbar! those times I go slow, slow, get daggerboard up as much as I can and start saying "sorry pal" to myself beforehand

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6 minutes ago, sail(plane) said:

well, If the original design is not actually weak, then you can just rivet it back in as it was and not mess around modifying things. 

Yep. If I can figure out a way to remove rivets in the field (hammer & chisel method w/ camp shovel and screw-driver?), then a nice back-up solution is to carry a couple screws to screw into the universal joint (ala A Class Sailor's suggestion) in the event of a similar future failure.

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Just now, DTA said:

Yep. If I can figure out a way to remove rivets in the field (hammer & chisel method w/ camp shovel and screw-driver?), then a nice back-up solution is to carry a couple screws to screw into the universal joint (ala A Class Sailor's suggestion) in the event of a similar future failure.

yeah ... you know how it is...  that one is never going to fail again, something else will! 

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30 minutes ago, DTA said:

Dex - at first I wasn't understanding how hose clamps would be helpful. But now I think I understand. Do you mean use hose clamps to attach to the rudder tiller, and then I would have a better platform to which to attach line, wire, whatever, in order to jerry-rig a solution? That makes sense; but I just wanted to make sure I understood you correctly.

Usefulfor a general purpose get home bodge for lots of things. A short length of line hose clamped to both tubes might make a useable connection on a crossbar or tiller extension. Might reattach a block to a spar to get home. Etc.

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By the way, this happens to be the shark fisherman who "caught" me. I'm not joking:

 

 

 

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DTA - looks like you crossed paths with quite an interesting guy! You'll have to watch to see if that fisherman adds a picture of you or an RS Cat to his montage of caught fish!  Years ago while reaching out of Masonboro Inlet (Wrightsville Beach, NC) on a Laser, I got briefly tangled with a fishing line on a boat trolling as they were entering the confined space of the inlet jetties. I knew to stay well clear of fishing boats on the ocean but didn't expect one to be trolling just out of the inlet. 

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4 minutes ago, Alan Crawford said:

DTA - looks like you crossed paths with quite an interesting guy! You'll have to watch to see if that fisherman adds a picture of you or an RS Cat to his montage of caught fish!  Years ago while reaching out of Masonboro Inlet (Wrightsville Beach, NC) on a Laser, I got briefly tangled with a fishing line on a boat trolling as they were entering the confined space of the inlet jetties. I knew to stay well clear of fishing boats on the ocean but didn't expect one to be trolling just out of the inlet. 

Ummm ... that sounds truly frightening. It's one thing to be pulled to shore by a stationary fisherman. It's quite another to be dragged about the ocean by a motoring fishing boat!!!!

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4 minutes ago, DTA said:

Ummm ... that sounds truly frightening. It's one thing to be pulled to shore by a stationary fisherman. It's quite another to be dragged about the ocean by a motoring fishing boat!!!!

More pissed and startled than frightening at the time! I was reaching along just cleaning the jetties and all the sudden this "thing" (the fishing line it turns out) jumped out of the water, hit the mast (it finally registered that it was a fishing line from a boat that was heading into the inlet) and then the steel leader proceeded to hit me in the head. I was pretty close to whatever was on the end end. I never got "hooked" and the boat never slowed down.... After that I paid even closer attention to what was in my vicinity as I sailed in /out of the inlet.

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2 minutes ago, Alan Crawford said:

More pissed and startled than frightening at the time! I was reaching along just cleaning the jetties and all the sudden this "thing" (the fishing line it turns out) jumped out of the water, hit the mast (it finally registered that it was a fishing line from a boat that was heading into the inlet) and then the steel leader proceeded to hit me in the head. I was pretty close to whatever was on the end end. I never got "hooked" and the boat never slowed down.... After that I paid even closer attention to what was in my vicinity as I sailed in /out of the inlet.

I'm pissed off on your behalf, so I can imagine how angry you were. I've never seen that at any of the inlets around these parts. No boats ever drop their lines until they are well clear of the inlet. What a complete jerk!

However, what we do have are some fairly narrow inlets, and fishermen on both sides will cast their lines into the inlet channel, leaving very little room for a non-motored sailboat to maneuver through the gauntlet. The only thing that keeps the fishermen in check is the fact that a motorboat racing through the inlet will cut their lines.

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8 hours ago, DTA said:

I'm not sure though if a screw would hold tight to the Universal joint the way the rivet does.

A screw will hold the UJ far better than a rivet does. While some people will put a bolt right through, I always use a screw and have never had it fail. You simply need to make sure you only drill a pilot hole so that the screw grips the rubber of the UJ and can be tightened so that there can be no movement. A bolt would be OK if you prefer, so long as you carry tools to be able to undo it so you can change UJ if there is a problem.

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17 minutes ago, A Class Sailor said:

A screw will hold the UJ far better than a rivet does. While some people will put a bolt right through, I always use a screw and have never had it fail. You simply need to make sure you only drill a pilot hole so that the screw grips the rubber of the UJ and can be tightened so that there can be no movement. A bolt would be OK if you prefer, so long as you carry tools to be able to undo it so you can change UJ if there is a problem.

Thanks man. I'll give it the ol' college try with the screws and see how solid it feels. Like you said, it's way easier to fix/maintain w/ screws. If Amazon delivers the UJ by tomorrow evening, I'll give Big Shell Beach another go this weekend. But I'm not counting on another shot until the weekend of the 15th. Fortunately, Corpus stays warm (no wetsuit) until around Halloween.

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I normally use a self tapping screw to hold the UJ in place & then wrap some tape around the pole to stop the screw coming out or use some heat shrink tubing, which is neater.

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Thanks much to everyone above for the assistance. I got my new UJ in the mail. Drilled out the rivets and just used stainless steel screws to hold the UJ in place. As A Class Sailor said, it holds very tight. No need to drill all the way through the other side and use a bolt to go all the way through the crossbar and UJ. The solution was so elegant and simple and amenable to easy fixing in the field that I almost opted to drill out the rivets on the other side and do the same, even though there had been no failure on the other side. But, alas, I opted to just leave well enough alone for now.

Also, per the suggestions above, I have a better emergency kit. It now includes:

* Piano wire

* Leatherman (Rebar version)

* Cord of various diameters

* shock cord

* Hose clamps to fit around tiller and crossbar

* A spare Universal Joint

* Various spare shackles

* Electric tape

*Duct tape

Only thing I'm missing right now are the clevis pins. But I'll eventually get an assortment of those in the emergency bag as well. Weather permitting, I'll be attempting my trip to Big Shell Beach again next weekend!!!

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sounds like you also need a knife for cutting fishing line. :ph34r:

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