Introduction: Free Yacht Chapter 3: Fix Broken Stix and Other Trix

Picture of Free Yacht Chapter 3: Fix Broken Stix and Other Trix

On the maiden voyage of the free yacht I broke the tiller by standing on it. Sure it sounds dumb, but if I hadn't done that I'm sure something worse would have happened. That's the sort of relationship I have with tillers and rudders.

Continues the saga begun at How to Get a Free Yacht

epoxy pix by Nick Papadakis

Here's the broken stick we're going to fix.
If you like hospital shows, please note the comminuted fractures on the proximal end of the avulsed fragment.

continues the Free Yacht saga begun at How to Get a Free Yacht

Here's the table of contents of the whole saga:
Chapter 1: How to Get a Free Yacht
Chapter 2: Maiden Voyage of the Free Yacht
Chapter 3: Fix Broken Stix and other Trix
Chapter 4: Outboard Motor Mutilates Foot
Chapter 5: It's sinking and it's on Fire.
Chapter 6: How To Give Away a Free Yacht
Chapter 7: Get an Even Better One and Fabulize it.
Chapter 8: Celebrate Freedom
Chapter 9: Technicolor Dreamboat
Chapter 10: Privateer Knot
Chapter 11: Dismasted!
Chapter 12: Kiteboat!
Chapter 13: Mast Raising

Step 1: Clean Out the Injury

Picture of Clean Out the Injury

The splinters on both sides of the break prevent the pieces from fitting together properly.
So I cleaned up the mating surfaces with a crooked knife.

Step 2: Decant Some Epoxy

Picture of Decant Some Epoxy

Don your chemical suit (gloves and goggles) and squirt some epoxy. I get mine from US Composites in W. Palm Beach FL with metering pumps. I did half a shot each of A and B. The pumps wear out, gulp air and give you short shots unless you use the right body english. Replace them with each new jug. This is "fast" style epoxy, contrasted with "medium" and "slow". Fast means you leave it overnight before it's strong.

Don't ever use "Five Minute" epoxy for anything. It's unpatriotic, not waterproof, poisonous, bad tasting, and makes girls hate you. Avoid polyester resin also. It's not a good adhesive for most woods. This is mahogany, which means it's reddish and no one knows what species it really is, so stick with epoxy.

Step 3: Mix It Up

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I like to mix epoxy, paint, and anything else with a bent wire. Size it for the job at hand. I've tried many different shapes of bent wire and have settled on the asymmetrical right angle. All other shapes are equally good. Purists don't like to beat so much air into their glue so they mix it by hand 27 strokes with a straight stick. That's good also.

Step 4: Thicken It With Flour

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Add enough white flour to to thicken the stuff. Some say "like pancake batter", some say "like peanut butter". I like it in between, like organic peanut butter. The thickening keeps it from running out of the joint. The nightmare that terrorizes epoxy users is the "starved joint".

You can add fumed silica to make epoxy thixotropic (not flowing)or hollow glass or plastic microspheres to make it light and bulk it up. Wood flour is conventional for gluing applications. That's fine sanding dust. You can get it segregated by fiber length if you crave certainty and perfection. White flour is just as good. Whole wheat flour isn't. The extra vitamins make it too greasy and lumpy.

Step 5: Goober It All Up and Squish It Together

Picture of Goober It All Up and Squish It Together

You want plenty of glue so it will squeeze out of the joint. Leave the blobs on there, because some if it will get sucked into the joint when the wood soaks up epoxy.

Step 6: Clampett

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I mean clamp it. With a wrapping of innertubes. Then go home. It'll be ready in the morning. If it slides the wrong way pound in a thin little nail and leave the head exposed so you can pull it out later.

Step 7: The Next Day, Unwrap It

Picture of The Next Day, Unwrap It

You just cut yourself on sharp pieces of dried glue and are bleeding all over.
That's where mahogany stain comes from.
Your hand is a mess but the tiller is looking much better.

Step 8: Sand It Flat

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Grind off the glue goobers with a beltsander or other flattening device.

Step 9: Round the Hole

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Chip the major goobers out of the hole with a chisel, in this case a sharpened screwdriver like Michaelangelo used to use. Then use a rasp to grind off the rest of the irregularities. Got some crutches or a ski pole I can have? I could use a handle for that rasp.

Step 10: Varnish It

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Or use linseed oil. After this I chopped the brush handle short so I could leave it in the can.

Step 11: Ta Daa!

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And there it is, happily on the boat and ready for action. I think I better make a spare out of ash or oak, this one seems kind of wimpy compared to what our neighbors have.

Step 12: Other Tricks: Shore Power

Picture of Other Tricks: Shore Power

I had the right goofy connector so I made my own shore power adapter a.k.a pigtail.

If you unplug this, my bilge pumps stop and our boat slowly sinks at the dock.

Step 13: Ball Fenders

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Storebought fenders cost mucho dinero. These two were free, work just as well, and are better tetherballs.

Step 14: Boxing Glove on Bowsprit

Picture of Boxing Glove on Bowsprit

It definitely needed one.
Maybe the other glove should go on the boom.

Step 15: To Be Continued...


prospector (author)2008-10-10

Great fix, it looks good! A hint though as you move along in yachting circles, you will find that most sailors who go to sea in small boats carry a spare tiller. An expensive spare tiller can be bought at West Marine for about $50 (for my boat) and will be glossy and have laminations and whatnot. A cheap spare tiller can be bought at Home Depot, but will be mislabelled as "Wheelbarrow Handles." It is handy that they only sell these spare tillers in sets of 2, and that the wood is rough hewn allowing you to sand it down to the right feel before you stain or varnish it. Also the Home Depot Spare tillers are long enough that you can cut them in half before attaching, which means you actually get 4 for the price of one!

dmccormick1 (author)prospector2011-07-28

i agree with J.W.Mills, i fell over laughing at the mislabel...

j.w.mills (author)prospector2010-04-18

ROTF! Splat... Fell out of my chair! Good one Prospector!

Thats right use the mis labled stuff from the HomeDespot and your local hardware.

Xtreehouse (author)2010-04-01

To anyone whom wants to give away a 220' sea worthy Yacht, Ship, Craft ect, or larger ;  Please Email me at , If theres one thing in life that I want to do before I go to the after life it is to live on the sea and travel till that day comes.. I wanna a Yacht !

Xtreehouse (author)2010-04-01

To anyone whom wants to give away a 220' sea worthy Yacht, Ship, Craft ect, or larger ;  Please Email me at , If theres one thing in life that I want to do before I go to the after life it is to live on the sea and travel till that day comes.. I wanna a Yacht !

GearsFC3S (author)2009-06-24

Is that a rum cask / beer keg installed on your forward deck?

benner81 (author)GearsFC3S2009-08-17

It's probably an inflatable life boat. I've seen them in packages like that.

Whales (author)benner812009-08-23

Looks like a keg to me..

benner81 (author)Whales2009-08-30

You might be right. I can't see that well.

Kryptonite (author)benner812010-01-31

I think they're filled with fuel or gas, because Bobcats and Dingoes (the machinery!) use them to go forward.

GearsFC3S (author)Kryptonite2010-01-31

I'm familiar with bobcat's(not so much dingoes), but I've never seen them with any kind of fuel cylinder on the back. I've used forklifts that used propane cylinders, but they look totally different.

Whatever it is, its definitely an old beer keg that could have been converted to hold diesel.

Kryptonite (author)GearsFC3S2010-02-01

Sorry, I meant forklifts. Hmm, I could have sworn they looked the exact same, because the ones I've seen upon the forklifts around here aren't your average propane cylinders...

MT-LB (author)GearsFC3S2009-12-09

i think he said it was a beer keg filled with diesel.

Wasagi (author)2009-12-28

 "Don't ever use 5 minute epoxy for anything. It is unpatriotic, not waterproof, poisonous, bad tasting, and makes girls hate you."

as if the bad tasting and poisonous weren't enough to dissuade me, it's unpatriotic, and makes the girls hate me!

acer73 (author)2007-06-14

Of course 5 min expoxy would make girls hate you

mazeka.14 (author)acer732008-12-17


Dr.Bill (author)mazeka.142009-03-28


mazeka.14 (author)Dr.Bill2009-04-23

still dond know why...

SaveFerris (author)mazeka.142009-07-06

5 minute epoxy finishes in 5 minutes.

man ray (author)SaveFerris2009-07-14


crickle321 (author)man ray2009-10-04

funny how it took 2 years from joke to punchline, heh.

ChrisEnder (author)2009-08-24

Big tires are heavy so try and get the spare tires if you can. Make sure there is no hub (duh :P) and maybe even cut the tire in half before you rope it.

anwaya (author)2007-07-29

You could also go to a "Just Tires" and ask them for old tires: they have to pay for them to be taken away, and are grateful if you can take them off their hands.

Grey_Wolfe (author)anwaya2008-05-20

Make it look like Captain Ron's boat. lol. Still, not a bad idea.

Lemon (author)2007-01-04

The boxing glove on the end of the bowsprit was a classic... ah, good times, good times... do you mind if i use that image as my MSN display pic? Your saga of your free boat is very well documented, keep 'em coming.

TimAnderson (author)Lemon2007-01-04

thanks and please be the boxing glove bowsprit!

SmokeyTheBear (author)2006-07-06

if your so woried about cost that you cant buy bumpers, why dont you get a moring insted of a slip then maybe you could save 200 bucks a month. asuming of course that there are morings availible in your localharbor, a big if though, the waiting list at my local harber has an ETA of 12 years

radioeyes (author)2006-07-05

I'd say some artwork is in order the next time you paint. Looks kinda flat to me.

The Full Belly Project (author)2006-07-05

I'm trying to make one of these into a an adapter to 12 V, any advice or thoughts?

AnimalChin (author)2006-07-05

I absolutely love these Instructables. They're perfectly written, full of detail, have lots of great photos, and they're funny! Thanks!

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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