Aluminium Tiller

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Stumble, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    My wood laminate tiller recently cracked on my racing sailboat. I was about to buy a new one, when I picked the thing up and realized that it weighs about 5 lbs. Now I know that I am just a tad weight sensitive on this boat, but I just can't seem to justify carrying that much weight for a tiller.

    I was thinking instead of fabricating an aluminum tiller from 2x1 rectangular tubing (the right size for the tiller bracket) with a handle attached at the end. This should reduce the weight by about 3.5 lbs, and I would think that it would be at least as strong or stronger than the original. I had also thought about then drilling out 1" holes from the top and bottom of the tiller to further reduce weight.

    However before I go this route, I was wondering if anyone can see a flaw in the design, or have a reason why it is a bad idea. I could very easily just be overlooking some basic problem, and would certainly prefer to know that before going through the hassle of making it.
     
  2. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    alloy is a good medium for a tiller, , BUT some form grip is essential cool waters, it gets cold, go for a higher tensile, will flex and always spring back
     
  3. gggGuest
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    gggGuest ...

    Unless you have plenty of experience playing with metal a carbon structure will normally be easier and lighter...
     
  4. Steam Flyer
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: North Carolina, USA

    Steam Flyer Junior Member

    new tiller FG over foam

    I had a nice laminated wood tiller that rotted on the inside. I got suspicious when I tried touching up the varnish and most of it turned black, but a few weeks later when sailing, it broke. It didn't even snap, it just sort of folded up with a mushy sound. The inside of it was a sponge.

    To replace it, I cut a piece of ABS foam to match the curve the & taper that I wanted, then 8-sided most of it, then rounded the last 8" or so. It was easy to shape with a razor knife & a coarse rasp.

    I then put strips of 18oz fiberglass cloth along it's length, resined it, then wrapped 6" strips of finishing cloth around it diagonally to hold the 18oz in place and give it a smoother surface, then wrapped the whole thing in a plastic sheet and rollered it good & hard... then waited for the resin to set.

    It took some sanding & filling, but it came out very nice looking, comfortable to the hand, super-light, and very stiff & strong. I could stand on it if the need arose (or if i stumbled across the cockpit).

    If you wanted to buy that fancy braided fiberglass sleeve material, you could do this even easier and it would need less finish work at the end.

    Best of all, it will NEVER rot!

    FB- Doug
     
  5. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    I looked at doing a composite one, but I am racing in a major regatta this weekend, so I just don't have the time to do a proper layup. Otherwise I think a carbon tiller would be fun to make. I am really curious if I am missing something here since I haven't heard of anyone using an aluminum tiller before and whenever I get an idea like this I am always wondering why not.

    Anyway I plan to go out tomorrow and pick up the bar, and at least make the replacement. But does anyone have a feeling one way or the other about take cutouts from the bar?
     

  6. Steam Flyer
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: North Carolina, USA

    Steam Flyer Junior Member

    I dunno if it's too late. Somebody mentioned earlier that aluminum will be springy. It tends to flex. Get the heftiest piece that will fit, just for stiffness.

    Cut-outs are great if you take them from the plane of the bending force. If it takes any torsion in a different plane, then the piece is dramatically weaker. Considering how much weight you're talking (even if it is at the end of the boat) I'd not worry about it. Instead spend the time planning your new composite tiller :D

    FB- Doug
     
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