Your Own Collapsible Lazy Jax

Here is an outline of the design of a collapsible lazy jax which Richard Gegenwarth is putting on his Aloha 8.2 #139 Dulcinea. Except that the total length of line required would change, the same arrangement could be applied to any model of Aloha.

Mount a cheek block (e.g. Ronstan 30151) on the mast below the spreaders on port and starboard.

A cleat (e.g. Ronstan RF5106 combination fairlead/V-cleat) is needed at a convenient spot on the lower section of the mast, again port and starboard.

There are three eye straps (e.g. RF134) on the bottom of the boom in front of the vang (D), in front of the mainsheet (C) and half way in between (A).

The length of Line#1 is twice the distance from (A) to (F) to (C). Thus when pulled forward, those lines lie along the boom. That line is connected to eye strap (C) at its mid-point with a simple loop.

You need two of Line#2 (one port, one starboard) of length equal to (F) to cheek block and back to the cleat. Line#2 has a stainless steel thimble on one end and a stopper knot on the other end.

The length of Line#3 is twice the distance from ( D) to (F). It is connected to the eye strap (D) at mid-point by a simple loop. There is a 1″ x ¼” stainless steel ring on each end attached to the line with a stainless steel thimble.

To set up – attach Line#3 at it’s mid-point to eye strap (D) – attach Line#2s over cheek blocks to the cleats (port and starboard) – attach Line#1 at it’s mid-point to eye-strap (C) – now thread Line#1 through the port Line#2 thimble (B) and port Line#3 stainless ring (E) and attach to eye strap (A), then do the same on the starboard side.

When you pull on the two Line#2s to raise the structure you will have a problem with the rings – they fall down. Hence “Jamstoppers” (they look like split balls that get screwed together) need to be attached at an appropriate spot on Line#1 to port and starboard.

One last thing. To collapse the structure, release the lines on the mast and pull the rings forward. Then attach the rings and thimble to the mast using a piece of shock cord with plastic hooks or whatever works for you. The shock cord can be attached to the mast with an eye strap for example.

I figured that I needed about 90 ft of 1/4inch line so I bought about 110feet. Total cost was about $70 with most of the gear purchased through SailNet.

Written by Richard Gegenwarth

Aloha Cabin Side Logo

Many Alohas came with the name displayed on the cabin side. If yours either didn’t, or they have faded or worn away, we can help provide you with replacements.

This photo shows the transfers I had made for “Bliss”, based on a tracing which Dennis Clarke kindly provided from the original transfers on his 28, which he replaced a while ago.

Get some made!

To get these made, I created a Corel Draw file with an image the exact size (approx 21cm x 7.5 cm) of the originals. Many sign makers can use a Corel file as a starting point to import the logo into their own software, although they usually spend some time “cleaning up” the edges to produce the best result. The sign-maker I used charged CDN $35 to tidy up the artwork and CDN $20 for 4 logos themselves, plus tax.

If you want to approach a sign-maker local to you, then download either the  gif file by clicking here

Written by Keith Denham

Aloha 32 Rudder Post & Steering Rebuild (2)

When we bought our boat there was up to a 1/4″ play in the rudder post.  After the rudder was dropped (with much effort!) we found the quadrant needed to be replaced as every bolt had to be drilled to be removed.  We found some of the bolts were raw steel through aluminum and stainless steel, corrosion was an issue. An even bigger find was that there were no bearings in the fiberglass rudder tube. The rudder’s stainless steel post was worn at its base, equally worn in the fiberglass rudder tube.

Well here is an update of what we did.  To summarize, the rudder was dropped and the wear inspected and measured.  The quadrant was destroyed and had to be ordered new. The top nylon bushing was in fine shape but the aluminum spacers were fused together and had to be cut apart.

What we elected to do was to build a new bottom bushing out of aluminum and epoxy a nylon sleeve over the damage on the rudder post.  The two new bottom bushings were machined to fit inside each other and provide a new wearing surface for the rudder.Here is what we did:

  1. Measure the diameters of the rudder tube and the rudder stock in two directions for wear, draw up new bushings to be machined, select a machine shop.  I had the bottom bushings done plus the two upper aluminum spacers with the pin and check screw for $230.
  2. Prepare the bottom of the rudder tube for the new bushing.  The diameter of the new bushing will be larger then the existing rudder tube.  We used a hole-saw to increase the tube size.  First run a straight edge down the rudder tube from the cockpit deck to review the angle that the new hole needs to be drilled.  Cut a tapered plug from plywood and insert in the existing tube to help guide the hole saw at first.  Two people will need to guide the drill in order to keep the correct angle.
  3. Clean the rudder stock and sweat the nylon bushing down the rudder stock to the damage. Apply the epoxy over the damage and continue sliding the nylon bushing down to its final position.
  4. Dry run the fit. (We had to assemble the rudder 5 times before it was right). Insert the new aluminum bushing, friction should hold it in place. Next insert the rudder. We used a 2×8 as a lever once the two of us got it in place.  This allows one person to guide it in on top.  Check alignment and fit. Sand as needed. I wanted it to ride with the least amount of effort, but not be loose.
  5. Once happy with the fit we screwed the aluminum bushing in place and inserted the rudder for the final time and then assembled the quadrant.

Some extra notes:

  • You have to dig a 1.5 foot hole under the rudder to let it drop.
  • I removed the wood bulkheads into the space under the cockpit to allow more working space.  We also removed the fuel tank for cleaning, but that’s another project.
  • The rudder was full of water which I drained and then patched the crack at the top of the rudder.

Written by Chris Davison

Aloha 32 Rudder Post & Steering Rebuild (1)

We’ve just finished a complete rebuild of the steering system on our Aloha 32.  When we purchased the boat in November 2005, we noticed about 1/8″ play in the top rudder bearing.  After hauling the boat, we also noticed about 1/16″ play in the bottom bearing.

Upon pulling the engine for repair, we found about 1/2 gallon of sandy sludge on top of the quadrant, on the hull around the rudder post, under the fuel tank and engine, and on down into the bilge.

We disassembled the steering system to investigate.  I’ll describe the construction of the steering system in detail, because I think it will help in discussing the problems and the solutions we chose:

As built, the rudder shaft is a 1 7/8″ OD stainless tube.  Near the top of the shaft is a 1/2″ diameter stainless pin inserted through the diameter of the shaft. Under this are two 4″ diameter, 1/2″ thick aluminum disks.  The 1/2″ rod is secured to the upper disk with a stainless machine screw.  The lower disk rides on a plastic bushing which looks a bit like an inverted top hat.

A 1″ deep drain well extends across the width of the cockpit sole with drains in the outboard corners.  The “brim” of the rudder bushing rests on the floor of this well at the center, with the tubular part extending down through a hole in the floor of the drain well.  The “brim” of the bushing is secured to the drain well floor with three 1/2″ flat-head wood screws.

We found that the bushing, and thus the entire shaft assembly, was moving laterally at least 1/8″ inch when under load.  The bushing was also rotating about +/- 10 degrees when the rudder shaft rotated.  The screw holes were elongated, so the screws were no longer doing their job, and in fact their heads were gouging out the bottom of the lower aluminum disk.

It’s clear that the sand and grit, carried by water from the cockpit sole, migrated underneath the bushing, onto the quadrant, and thus down into the bilge.  In fact, the sand underneath the rotating bushing milled down through the fiberglass into the plywood.

Our lower rudder bearing is a simple fiberglass tube.  Over the 22 years since our boat was built, the rudder shaft was worn down about .003″ in diameter (as compared to the unworn parts of the shaft).  The tube was about .060″ larger in diameter than the shaft.

Unlike some other sailboats, there is no packing gland at the top of the rudder tube.  The top of the tube appears to be somewhere between 3″ to 5″ above the static water line, so when the boat was new, the close fit between the tube and the rudder shaft presumably kept the water out, even when under way.

It’s interesting to note that another Aloha 32 owner recently reported leaking from the front of his rudder tube at high propeller speeds.  We only had a few hours on our boat before we hauled it for refitting, so we didn’t observe any leaking.  (But with the mess in the aft space of our boat, it  might have been difficult to see in any case.)

The quadrant on our Aloha 32 is actually a complete wheel, and is clamped with several bolts, and secured from rotating with a pinning bolt through the shaft.  When we removed the quadrant (luckily it was easier for us than for you), we found the bottom of the quadrant severely eroded, to the point where the pinning bolt was exposed over most of its length.  The rim was also quite rough from corrosion.

Since the quadrant was mounted only about 1/8″ above the top of the rudder tube, one imagines that water splashed up the rudder tube onto the bottom of the quadrant from time to time.  The quadrant, being aluminum and anodic with respect to the stainless shaft, eroded away.

Here’s what we did to solve the various problems:

Bottom Bearing

After considerable research, we decided to rebuild the bearing surface by injecting graphite-loaded epoxy into the rudder tube, using the rudder stock as a mold.  This method is described in section 8.4 of “Fiberglass Boat Repair & Maintenance”, published by West System Inc.

In short, the technique is to remove the rudder, drill several holes into the rudder tube, reinsert the rudder, then use a syringe to pump graphite-loaded epoxy through the holes into the gap between the rudder stock and the rudder tube.

To begin, we dropped the rudder and cleaned up the shaft with coarse emery paper.  We especially concentrated on working down the unworn parts of the shaft to try to eliminate the .003″ step worn by the rudder tube.  We were concerned that since the new bearing diameter would be based on the lower, worn part of the shaft, the upper, unworn part of the shaft might not fit through the bearing when we needed to remove and reinsert the rudder.

Next, we drilled four holes in the skeg from outside the hull, diagonal to the boat’s centerline, and parallel with the waterline.  We originally hoped to find solid fiberglass here, but we found an air gap between the skeg and the rudder tube.  While it might be possible to fill this gap with a low-viscosity epoxy, we decided to simply find a syringe with a longer nose. We ended up drilling 1/4″ holes right through the rudder tube, and 3/8″ clearance holes in the skeg to provide clearance for the syringe nose.

We then applied two coats of mold-release wax to the rudder stock and inserted the stock into the rudder tube, blocking the shaft so it was approximately centered in the tube.

Following the instructions in the West System book, we created a 50/50 mixture of graphite powder and colloidal silica.  (The graphite power adds strength, hardness, and lubrication to the completed bearing surface; the colloidal silica is a thickening agent.)  We added this mixture to some  System Three epoxy to get a mayonnaise consistency, and loaded the result into a syringe.

The West System instructions suggest injecting only enough epoxy to form 1″ diameter pads inside the rudder tube.  We instead injected enough epoxy to form a 2″ to 4″ band all around the tube, since we wanted to form a barrier to water coming up the tube.  Using a bit of simple geometry, we determined that 20 ml should be about right, so we injected about 5 to 7 ml into each of the four holes.

It’s important that the syringe fit tightly into the hole in the rudder tube, since you need to apply significant pressure to get the epoxy to flow inside the tube.  We had one hole that didn’t fit well, so the epoxy squeezed out past the syringe.  The resulting bearing surface at that point was only about 2″ high, rather than the 4″ of the rest of the bearing.  Next time, I’d epoxy the bad hole and re-drill to get a better fit before injecting.

While injecting, we could tell that the epoxy was flowing as desired, and that our calculations were correct, because we could see the epoxy show up at the holes on either side of the first holes we injected into.

We let the epoxy cure for about eight hours, then turned the rudder to break it free, and then came back every few hours to break it free again.  We left the rudder in position for about a week to ensure the epoxy was completely set.  We wanted to avoid damaging the new bearing surface when we dropped the rudder for the rest of the required repairs.

Top Bearing

While the bottom bearing was curing, we set to work on the top bearing. Since we had hammered pretty hard on the top of the rudder shaft to get the aluminum disks off, the floor of the drain well, which was already damaged by the sand milling away the fiberglass, was now delaminated as well.  To begin the repair, we ground away the loose fiberglass and wet wood over an area about 8″ square.  We then used System Three RotFix (a penetrating epoxy) to stabilize the wood and secure the remaining fiberglass to the wood.  Finally, we laminated back up to the original thickness with epoxy and glass cloth.

We wanted to make sure that any water and grit in the drain well would drain away from the rudder bearing in the future, so we added a 1/2″ thick plywood land under the rudder bearing, beveling the edges and glassing it over.  On reassembly, we omitted one of the two 1/2″ thick aluminum disks to maintain the original rudder shaft height.

We eliminated the possibility of water in the plywood by drilling the hole for the bushing about 1/4″ oversize, which allowed space to pack in epoxy loaded with milled fiber around the bushing.

To ensure a really accurate fit of the epoxy around the bushing, we used the bushing itself as a mold.  We first applied a generous coat of mold-release wax to the bushing, then we dropped the rudder a few inches, inverted the bushing and put it on the shaft.  We raised the rudder back into position, pushed the bushing up until it met the bottom of the drain well, and secured
it there with duct tape.  It was then possible to pack in the epoxy and milled fiber around the bushing.  We let the epoxy cure well, then removed the bushing.

Once the hole was cleaned out and the bushing reinserted from the top, it was perfectly aligned with the shaft and had absolutely no slop whatsoever. Finally, we drilled for the bushing retaining screws.  Again, we avoided any future water ingress by drilling a bit oversized, packing the holes with epoxy and milled fiber, and re-drilling for the screws after the epoxy cured.


Even though the rebuilt bottom bearing should exclude water for some years, we wanted to avoid having to replace the quadrant ever again.

The Edson radial drive wheel used on the Aloha 32 is shaped like a shallow dish, with a hub on the bottom of the dish.  As built, the wheel is mounted dish up, with the hub below.  After much careful measuring, we determined that there is enough vertical space below the drain well to mount the quadrant upside-down.  The inverted position puts the hub above, with the
dish facing down.

According to the Edson manual, this mounting arrangement is completely acceptable, as long as the cable runs true onto the rim of the wheel. Mounted in this way, the quadrant is several inches above the top of the rudder tube, so that any small amount of water which may intrude will not be able to reach it.  Another advantage is that the quadrant clamping bolts are now on the top, so are easily accessible from the lazarette for the next time we need to drop the rudder.

Final Assembly

When reassembling the steering system, we lubricated both the upper and lower shaft bearings, the idler bearings, and the steering wheel bearings with Teflon grease.  On the advice of our mechanic, we also lubricated all bolts and the quadrant-to-shaft interface with the same grease, to help  avoid avoid them seizing in the future.

With a new cable assembly, a complete re-bedding of the steering column, and a bit of paint, we figure that with a little luck we’re now ready for another twenty years!

Written by David Querbach

Aloha 32 – The full “Mortar in the bilge” story!

We purchased an Aloha 32 late in the fall of 2001 and during the process of cleaning her up to get ready for launch the following spring we made an unpleasant discovery.  Our purchase survey suggested replacing the aft most keel bolt nut and adding a substantial backing plate.  When I got to cleaning things up and preparing for the job I discovered that Ouyang Boatworks had filled the aft most compartment of the bilge with cement based mortar.  In the mortar was bedded an oak 2 x 4 x 8″ long through which the aft most keel bolt projected.  Most of the mortar and all the oak were then glassed in leaving an arrangement that probably looked proper when new but in the long run didn’t seem to drain very well. It seems this arrangement was chosen because the aft most keel bolt is in too narrow a portion of the bilge to allow a nut (or even a washer) to be run down to the bilge floor.  The builder chose instead to use mortar to build the bilge floor up to a workable level.

The photos below outline the repair steps undertaken. Since these were completed, I’ve been corresponding with a few Aloha 32 owners and it seems there are a number of keel configurations on the water.  One of the people I corresponded with doesn’t know his arrangement because his bilge covers don’t go back as far as mine.  Another had a carbon steel 2″x4″ hollow structural steel piece wedged in the turn of the bilge.  It rusted away so he replaced it with solid steel.  Yet another owner has the keel bolt far enough forward that it can sit on the bilge floor as do the rest.  So there are a number of arrangements.  If you have mine, I hope this write up helps you when it comes time to clean things up.

When we started this “backing plate” project, we found half the glass over the oak had delaminated from the hull. This photo shows the arrangement reconstructed after having initially been disassembled for inspection.  In the photo it is evident that I had already started scratching away the mortar.

The oak board uncovered. When the delaminated glass was pulled off, the oak was messy but still basically sound.  The mortar under the oak was decomposing into sand; quite a mess.  Nevertheless, the oak was still bearing the load transferring it directly to the turn of the bilge.  Some prodding revealed that the mortar was breaking down to a sandstone form (easy to crumble) wherever it was against fiberglass.

The mortar with the very beginning of the excavations in progress. I used a 3/4 “ hammer drill to make swiss cheese of the mortar and then dug it all out.

The bilge cleaned out.  It is interesting to note that the lower half of the bulkhead that contained the mortar was rotted out and the mortar at its base was decomposing into sand and contaminating the rest of the bilge.

The next step was to glass in a new bulkhead well aft in the excavated compartment.  Into this new, smaller compartment was poured about a litre in 4 lifts of epoxy resin filled with chopped glass.  Over the fill were laid about 8 layers of roving and cloth as bedding for the recommended stainless plate.  Everything was arranged, with the help of poured resin, to ensure a clean drainage path from the aft end to the newly opened bilge.

The final arrangement with the new bulkhead in place and the space filled with epoxy and chopped glass. In the end, the plate was icing on the cake because all the other keel bolt nuts bear directly on the fiberglass through a washer.  In this case there is the stainless plate and two washers.  Notice the floor has been re-sanded in this one and has the first coat of varnish.  Another 2 coats, and light sanding has made it look pretty good.

Written by Zsolt Kecskemeti

Stuffing Box Maintenance

Another frequent discussion topic on the Aloha Discussion List is adjustment or re-packing of prop shaft “stuffing boxes” (aka “packing glands” or “propshaft glands”) so we have tried to summarise the most common questions and advice in a single article here.

Q. Which way do the nuts turn?
A. Just in case this varies from one unit to another check by looking at the exposed threads, and don’t exert too much force, until you’re sure you are turning it the right way. As far as we are aware (and please tell us if you know different) the stuffing boxes all have a standard thread. This means that looking towards the rear of the boat (i.e. from in front of the stuffing box with the compression nut nearest to you), the locking nut undoes clockwise and does up counter-clockwise. The compression nut gets slacker or is removed counter-clockwise and is tightened clockwise.

Q. What is the packing?
A. Packing comes either as “traditional” greased or waxed flax, or a more modern Teflon impregnated packing. It is available either ready-cut into pre-sized rings of various sizes to suit different boxes, or as continuous square sided rope also in various thicknesses to match the clearance between shaft and stuffing box body. Alohas usually require 1/4inch packing.

Q. At what rate should a properly adjusted stuffing box leak?
A. This depends on the type of packing used. With the greased flax packing the stuffing box should not drip when the shaft is stationary, and should leak 2 or 3 drops a minute when turning. The Teflon impregnated packing is usually drip free.

Q. How else should I check that it is adjusted correctly?
A. It is vital that the stuffing box does not overheat, since this will cause scoring damage to the shaft. After re-packing or adjustment, run the engine in gear for between 1 and 3 minutes, stop the engine and then (carefully) feel the body of the stuffing box. If it is hot to the touch it is too tight. Slacken the compression nut and re-test until the drip rate and temperature are correct.

Q. I can’t stop it dripping too fast no matter how I adjust it or when I do, it gets too hot ­ what next?
A. It’s time to re-pack the unit.

Q. Can the packing be replaced without removing the shaft?
A. This depends on accessibility and clearance. Provided there is room between the shaft coupling and the stuffing box for the compression nut/spacer to be undone and slide far enough away from the stuffing box to allow the existing stuffing to be removed, it can be achieved with the shaft in place. Note, however, that if you want to check or replace the flexible hose and clips that are used to mount the stuffing box, the shaft must be removed. If the boat is already out of the water this is probably the best option, and allows the cutless bearing to be checked/replaced at the same time.

Q. Can the packing be replaced with the boat in the water?
A. Provided the shaft doesn¹t have to be removed this should be possible. Some water will leak in whilst you do this, but Alohas usually have quite a tight fitting stern gland at the outer end of the prop shaft so the flow is quite limited. Nevertheless, speed is still important so make sure you have all the required materials and tools prepared and to hand before you start.

Q. What is the procedure for replacing the packing?
The steps are:

  • Before starting to dismantle, have four rings of the right size ready to insert. If cutting these from continuous rope, wrap this around the exposed shaft (or other circular tube of the same diameter such as the right sized socket spanner) five or six times and then cut across the windings at an angle with a sharp knife.
  • slacken the lock nut
  • undo the compression nut and slide this and the compression spacer up the shaft towards the shaft coupling
  • remove all of the existing packing. Any packing left behind will reduce the chances of the new packing sealing properly. This task will be made easier with a proper tool that looks a bit like a corkscrew on a flexible shaft, but this isn¹t essential and bent wire and pliers can also be used.
  • Insert the new packing, making sure the joint in each ring is offset from that in the previous ring. If your box has a metal greasing spacer it should be fitted between the second and third rings.
  • Re-fit the compression spacer and compression nut.
  • If your fitting has a grease fitting apply a couple of shots or turn the cup down a couple of turns.
  • Do the compression nut up hand tight plus about a quarter turn more. Secure with the locking nut.
  • Now run the engine for 1 to 3 minutes in gear and check for drip rate (not if Teflon packing is used) and temperature. Adjust as needed, and then run for rather longer and check that it is still only warm not hot.
  • Over the next few uses check for drip rate and temperature.

Q. Should the stuffing box be greased?
A. Some stuffing boxes have no grease fittings and rely on the greased packing and grease applied during assembly for lubrication. Others are fitted with a grease nipple, screw-down greasing cup or remote greaser, and in some cases have a metal spacing ring between the packing rings to aid grease distribution. In any event, this seems to suggest that occasional greasing is a good idea. If you have the greasing cup, a half or full turn, or until resistance is felt, each time you use the engine works well.

Q. Should the transmission be left in gear or in neutral when sailing?
A. A stationary propeller may cause more drag than one that is able to “idle” (although opinions on this vary). However, an idling shaft can be a significant source of noise and vibration, as well as creating wear on transmission bearings, seals, couplings and the stuffing box itself, and allowing the stuffing box to drip. The manual for the Hurst transmission fitted to many Alohas specifically instructs that it should be placed in reverse gear when sailing.

Q. What else can cause problems with the stuffing box?
A. Nigel Calder makes the point in his book that poor engine installation or alignment may manifest itself as (recurring) problems with the stuffing box.

Q. Is there an alternative to the stuffing box?
A. Several owners have fitted instead a PSS (Packless Sealing System) Shaft Seal from PYI Inc. This does not drip, and requires little or no maintenance or adjustment, but the risk of “catastrophic failure” may be slightly higher.

Written by Liam Fitzgerald

Westerbeke W13 heat exchanger

The Westerbeke W13 heat exchanger is very easy to service. It is located on the aft end of the engine and looks like a round can mounted crosswise to the engine, near the top of the engine. It’s about 12″ or 15″ long and about 3″ round.

On the A28 (8.5) it is usually possible to service the exchanger while it is still installed on the engine.

It is necessary to drain the engine coolant first, and there is a small drain cock on the heat exchanger for this purpose.

There are two caps, one on each end of the heat exchanger, which are held in place with a single screw through each cap. If you remove these screws, the inner core can then be removed for cleaning. It may not be necessary to remove the core as you may well be able to see any problems once the end caps are removed.

You may want to pick up a set of gaskets for the end caps before tackling the job as it is likely that the ones currently installed will be destroyed in teardown. Alternatively, you can make your own using the existing as a pattern or taking it from the end of the exchanger, and then cutting them from an old bicycle inner tube.

Be careful not to over-tighten the screws when re-assembling as the caps are made of copper or brass and will crack or deform easily.

Written by Bill Fleming

Amsteel Lifelines


A few years ago I replaced the lifelines on Ahoy Polloi (A 8.5) with Amsteel because I just couldn’t face the thought of paying $800.00 or so for something that was going to crack and yellow in a couple of years.

It wasn’t all that difficult and I am delighted with how well they are holding up even though my Genoa rides up over the lifeline.

Here is a link to the project Amsteel Lifelines

Written by Liam Fitzgerald