Pintles and Gudgeons

David Urban

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am working on a rudder for my Kipawa I am building. I have looked around for pintles and gudgeons, but have either not found exactly what I am looking for. I did not get a response back from an email to Bristol Bronze, nor did I like the stainless ones I found at Duckworks. I am thinking of making my own from brass- and will have access to a machine shop when I go on vacation in March. I am thinking of the Willets style -but am wondering what thickness brass plate I should use. Any comments/ advice?
If I don't end up making my own, any sources for brass or bronze ones?


Dave Urban
Hi Dave,

You might want to give Roger at Bristol Bronze a call. 401-625-5224

He's a one man shop and very busy, very knowledgeable and I have found, very accommodating.

a little different

My system is a little different than the norm,
I use a Gudgeon on the stem and on the rudder assemble, held together with a clevis pin. The clevis pin is secured with a clevis clip.
The pin and clip have a short piece of line attatched to them so you can't drop them in the water, but I keep an extra onboard just in case.

the gudgeons were machined ot of 1/4" flat stock semi hard brass,
the part you can't see that is buried in the stem and the rudder assemble are
machined 1/4" square and then threaded with a 5/16-18 die.
yes that's a round thread on a square shank, It only threads the corners of the 1/4" square shank but it holds a nut just fine.
The stem and rudder assembles were drilled with a drill jig to ensure proper
alignment. The stem was drilled all the way through with a washer and nut on the inside


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Not knowing what canoe these are mounted on, doesn't through-drilling the stem weaken the stem inmmensly? I would presume so, if it is typical wood-canvas construction. That's one of the advantages of the Old Town or Willits style gudgeons.

In any case, nice metalwork!

I found a website where a guy in Japan made his own gudgeons and pintles I think I will model what I do after this. It is hard to tell dimensions,but I guess the brass is either 3/16 or 1/4" thick. I won't be getting to them till the end of the month- but will post pics when I get done.

I was wondering like Dan if drilling through the stems might weaken them too much.

Thanks for the replies.
The stems on this canoe are quite beefy and made of Oak so I had little concern over weakening them.
It's a molded mahogany veneer hull of unknow origin.
I took the simple route by folding brass around a hingepin and clamping it in a vise. A bit of hammer work to round it around the pin and it was done. Very simple.
I didn't want to drill through my stem, either. If you run into something, and your rudder is mounted to the boat in that manner, damage will ensue. Like others, I prefer a clamp-on bracket that will kickup when needed. The rudder blade does as well. Here's an example:

I had a picture handy of what I think is an Old Town gudgeon and thought I would post it for reference. It was riveted through the stem.

A previous owner did apparently hit something with the rudder and twisted and partially broke the ash stem. It must have been quite a collision though.


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Thanks, Fitz! Yeah, things get hit and damage will be done regardless of the power. All those little whacks add up. I guess if you sail only in deep water, it's pretty safe, but I reckon most of us sail where we can (like Thoreau) and need to protect our boats from the inevitable.
David Urban said:
I found a website where a guy in Japan made his own gudgeons and pintles

Ah yes My friend Yasushi whom I corresponded with for about a year until he took some time off and flew to Canada to visit Bear Mountain canoes and myself.
He certainly picked my brain(or what little I have)and toured my shop while staying at Killbear Park.I took him sailing nearby.
I'm not sure where he got his brass design,but certainly he does nice work.
His boat is a Bear Mountain stripper,rig he bought from me.
There is an interesting progression of canoe sailors in Japan.
I have one or two readers from Japan. Thanks for the insight, maybe I can reach more. Are you aware of any canoe sailing organizations there?
I know where he got his design. It's from a certain book that I've seen, but I can't remember the author's wife would probably know it....
Hi Ed, Winter sucks. We've had 8' of snow here this winter and it won't quit. I've actually considered getting one of the kayaks out of the loft to see if I could paddle through the snow in the back yard, but haven't gotten quite that crazy yet. Mostly though, I'm too busy to worry about it. I have 39 old original songs from 33 years ago to relearn the bass or giuitar parts on in a month. We'll get one day of face-to-face rehearsal to figure out which ones work and which ones don't and then we're on stage the next night. Thank goodness for old albums, old studio tapes and modern e-mailable mp3 files. At least we'll pop out this weekend for an afternoon at Canoecopia. It's become kind of a challenge to go there and actually find something that we need but don't already own. I've somehow developed a serious hankerin' for an old Chestnut-style freight canoe or big Ogilvie. I'm not sure what I'd do with it if I ever got one - probably just paddle or motor around, but luckily for my wallet there won't likely be any there to tempt me.
Pernicious Atavist said:
I have one or two readers from Japan. Thanks for the insight, maybe I can reach more. Are you aware of any canoe sailing organizations there?
Yes i know they have had a couple of meets.Unfortunatly I had a virus wipe out my old e-mail files.Yasushi writes good English and does not consider himself the best canoe sailor in Japan so if you can find a link....
There was a mention in a recent WB magazine of another Canoe Sailor/Builder in Japan that I had dealt with previously.What with the winter blahs and all I can't remember anything useful at the moment.
Certainly my apologies to Todd.Of course you have reached sailors all over the world through your efforts.Too bad your not rich eh?
Don't play any bad notes.
See, we went and hijacked the thread....mea culpa!

Another way to hang a rudder is to use four gudgeons, two on the rudder, two on the mount--whether it's the stem or a removable one like I recommend--and drop a long pin through them.

Todd--you have an example of that, eh?