Tiller Pilot Stanchion: 2.0

My preparations for the Inside Passage included installation of a tiller pilot (an excellent investment!).  Installing it proved challenging, though, requiring the crafting of a stanchion to support it at the right elevation and distance from the tiller. One of my crises-of-the-day early in the trip was the delamination of the stanchion that I had taken sculptural pains to craft.  I describe this effort at length in an earlier post, but the pictures below show the approach and what I thought at the time was an elegant response to the functional requirement.


laminated oak stanchion
Stanchion in use














Except that it didn't hold up: it began to delaminate early on.  Bad epoxy mix? Oily wood? Under-engineered? I don't know.  Three long drywall screws driven at angles helped, and I followed up by taping the stanchion like a broken ankle with high tension strapping tape - at least a half dozen opposing diagonal layers. That sufficed for the remainder of the trip.

taped stanchion

Having taken the Center for Wooden Boats Bronze Casting Workshop a couple years back, I decided to do version 2.0 in bronze.  By the way, I strongly recommend this workshop.  In addition to having a great time, you will leave the course with a reasonable feel for making plugs for castings, as well as having gotten to pour 2000 degree molten bronze into molds of your own making. Using this experience I made a plug for my stanchion that with only minor modifications was suitable for casting by a commercial foundry.


On the recommendation of Mark Lerdahl (a Seattle shipwright of note) I took it to Morel Industries, a foundry in the SoDo district of Seattle and they did all the hard work.  I'll have to tap threads in the bottom to bolt it to the deck, and drill a hole in the top to receive the tiller-pilot swivel post, and that will be that.

Morel is a an industrial concern with lots of business, and I am grateful that they would take the time to fuss with a job as small as this.  I asked them when I took the plug in how much it would cost, and he said "As a one-off,  I can't be sure until we do it... more than $100, less than $500".  When I picked it up, he charged me $104 and change.  Plus tax. I am a very satisfied customer.
finished stanchion and mold plug
All buffed up and ready for the show

 This will be the last tiller pilot stanchion I will ever do.  I think. 


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