Should My Rudder Bearings Be Self-Aligning?

Published: 03/03/13 at 10:51am

PYI Inc. offers both self aligning and non-self aligning Jefa rudder bearings. Which should you have on your boat? What is the point of the self aligning feature? Why would you spend the extra dollars on it?

Typically, self aligning rudder bearings are a necessity on non metal rudder shafts (i.e. carbon, GRP) because the composite shafts tend to flex under heavy rudder load. When the rudder shaft flexes, the inner housings of the bearing will articulate in the outer housing allowing the rollers to stay aligned with the shaft even at high loads, eliminating any concern of the rudder binding in the bearing. Self aligning rudder bearings will also make the installation a quicker, easier, less expensive process. When an installer installs a non self aligning rudder bearing, either the rudder shaft or a dummy shaft will need to be used as an alignment tool during installation to ensure that the bearings are installed perfectly in line with the shaft. This can result in a more time consuming installation process.

The non-self aligning rudder bearing would best be suited for a metal rudder shaft that has a nice, round, clean, machined surface. If your metal shaft is not clean and round, we can also provide a sleeve that can be glued to the existing shaft to provide that clean surface for the rollers to ride.

Jefa rudder bearings are available as a retrofit on most sailing vessels. Please feel free to call us or write us if you would like to further discuss the opportunities for your boat. Thank you for reading!

-Ian Smith