Tiller repair or replacement

I just bought a used Scot and the tiller has soft rotted spots on it. I would like to make a replacement copy. Does anyone know the type of wood used for the tiller.
Thanks, TomT


You can make a new tiller fairly easily using the original as a template for size and dimension. I made a new tiller three years ago to replace one that had rotted through at the rudder head (and failed on a heavy-air day, of course).

Make the tiller from ash. The width where it enters the rudder head is the only critical fitting part. Be sure to drill the hole for the retainer pin completely through the tiller. If you don't, water will collect in the hole and be absorbed into the wood. Ash is pretty porous, so the water will definitely fester into a case of dry rot (this is probably what is happening to your tiller).

I used Interlux Schooner varnish for the finish. Be sure to apply a thinned "sealer coat" to the bare wood before you begin puting on the straight varnish--it will make the subsequent finish coats go much easier. Before I varnished, I sealed the afore-mentioned retaining pin hole with some WEST epoxy and then applied a heat gun to it. The heat thins the epoxy to an almost water-like viscosity, so it absorbs into the wood grain and should keep the moisture out pretty well. I also store my rudder & tiller below deck when not in use and this helps the longevity, as well.

Thanks - great info! Actually the tiller is rotting in the middle. I could cut out the bad parts and fill then finish it with epoxy but it wouldn't look as good as natural wood with a clear finish. I agree ash is great for furniture and general wood working but not for marine use. Besides the cost of wood, would mohogany or another species be a better choice? Is the centerboard cap mahogany? That would make my decision easier. By the way, what kind of wood is the tabernacle?



You have got to thinking of strength. You may like the beauty of mahogony, but you would hate the way it will crack and splinter under the strain. Leave it for the trim. Ash has strength.


As Dennis says, stick with ash for the tiller. You should replace the tiller if the rot has progressed that far. Properly finished and protected, ash is a superb wood for marine applications because of its properties: strength and resiliency. Take the extra minute to store the tiller below deck. You don't need to baby it---just don't abuse it!

The centerboard cap is mahogany and I expect your tabernacle is also. Some Scots have teak tabernacles, but teak is a lot heavier than mahogany, so it's rare in a racing boat.

Ash has excellent bending strength and strength-to-weight ratio.That's why baseball bats are made from ash.
If you keep it out of the weather and seal it with a good exterior varnish it will hold up well.

Ash it is! Thanks to all.