George F. Campbell
The neophyte shipmodeller`s jackstay
The old type of rudder was made up with 3 or 4 lengths bolted together, each one stepped down in a "hance" to the rudder post. They also tapered slightly in thickness with the narrowest part at the heel. Originally the pintles (or hinge pins) were forged in one piece with the side braces which bolted them to the rudder. On the stern post were the gudgeons with side braces and holes for the pintles. The earliest rudders were flat on the front edge and with a wide gap at the sternpost to give room to swing. The gap was filled up later by separate wooden chocks, between the rudder gudgeons, which had to be beveled or rounded to allow the rudder to swing, or the solid post itself might be cut to shape instead of separate chocks Fig. 34E. A notch was cut out of the timber below each gudgeon to permit the rudder to be lifted clear of the pintles when required. The score next above the waterline had a separate chock nailed into it to prevent the rudder lifting when at sea. The rudder being of wood would tend to float off if fully immersed in a following sea and it frequently did too, so chains ("preventers") were fitted from each side of the rudder to the counter so as not to lose it altogether. The chains could also be detached and fastened to ropes to steer by in case the tiller or wheel was damaged in battle or gale.
With these types of rudder the sternpost was finished off flat along its edge. When the rounded rudder post came into being, 185'Q roughly, the end of the sternpost was also bevelled which allowed less bevel on the rudder post to swing over and also made the top part of the rudder post that much stronger. Also about that time the pintles instead of being all one piece with the gudgeons were made as separate pins held in place by a wedge projection on edge as shown in Fig. 34C. This was the general style during the clipper ship period.
About 1850 there came into vogue a variety of mechanical gears in which the rudder post went up to the upper deck and was directly connected to the gear which was operated by a hand wheel, and the post head was strengthened by an iron cap, usually octagonal, see 34C. As the rudder could not be lifted without shifting the gear out of the way, the portable bolt type pintle was used. Make your straps or braces out of brass strip or copper, or even hard thin cardboard. With a little care you can also hammer flat a piece of thin copper wire with a small loop in the middle for the gudgeon.
Cut the necessary hole in the counter (not over size), set the rudder stock in it and glue in place. Run a pin through the rudder diagonally upwards to strengthen in position. Attach the pintle straps before mounting the rudder.
The whole steering apparatus including the rudder is known as the HELM. The earliest form of helm was a large oar slung over the starboard (steer-board) after part of the ship or sometimes on each side, and held by various arrangements such as ropes, leather straps or wooden pads clamped on the hull. These oars were fitted on Mediterranean craft in Biblical times and on Northern European they lasted up to the 13th or 14th centuries. Fig. A. is a type common on English ships.
Sometime about the 14th century the centreline rudder with gudgeons and pintles on the sternpost, and a common tiller came into fashion. Fig. B. This type so simple and efficient for small craft is still used.
Ships grow bigger gradually and the Uth century types with an additional poop deck still gave the helmsman a clear enough view to work the common tiller. In the 16th century with additional decks the tiller was down below, well out of sight. A device called the WHIPSTAFF was used so that the helmsman could see ahead. Fig. D and E. The whipstaff was a long pole hooked to the tiller and swiveling in a well rounded hole in the deck overhead. The rudder could not be put very far over with this device, but the steering of old sailing ships was chiefly effected by trimming the sails