Rushton rudder?


My IG came with a sail and a rudder. I am curious to know if this is a Rushton rudder. It is oak like the trim on the boat. The hardware seems to be original although it has been "massaged" to keep it working.


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Attached are images from the 1907 Rushton catalog (from the catalog collection on CD). If this doesn't seem to be the right year, I can look further-- but the selection is limited.

Someone else may have knowledge based on personal acquaintance with Rushton rudders... no such luck for me!



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a bit more...

Here's information from the 1915 catalog... describes woods used and details involving the rudder connection that may help in answering your question.

Isn't this rudder a beautiful thing? The Rushton catalogs display quite a bit of detail re fittings, etc.


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I suspect that it may be the real deal. It's very similar to some of those that I looked at in old photos when making the drawings for my book......except I can't remember where I originally found them. There is one that's similar and shown on a rowboat in a photo in the Atwood Manley Rushton book. This is as much detail as I can pull up from that photo and you can see that if nothing else, it is a rudder style that might have been possible on a Rushton canoe.


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Here's one of ours that's pretty different. We believe this to be original to the boat (fairly good history with the boat and it matches a form seen in Rushton catalog images... no offense intended, anyone, but I don't want to post images from other peoples' hard work). The rudder braces, as Rushton called the pintles and gudgeons, look like his No. 58/59. The rudder includes a very nice cast head piece.

Yours is clearly very different, but it looks well made and Rushton's shop produced a variety of types. And who knows what was going on in the Rushton shop during the difficult times after J.H.R. died. As an example, the rudder shown below is made of mahogany and white oak, though Rushton catalog pages state that wooden rudders are made of maple, cherry or spruce.

If you don't have confirmation of the rudder's authenticity, it certainly wouldn't hurt to repair or replicate it for use with your canoe. At the very least, this rudder is part of your canoe's history.

A LITTLE WHILE LATER... I should be asleep... almost none last night, so not thinking clearly. I was just taking a break and thinking about the MGC rudder photos- surely this rudder wasn't made for this canoe. The forward vertical edge of the rudder is dead straight, as though made for a square stern. Given this and the distance between gudgeons, it seems very unlikely that this rudder would have fit the curve of an I.G.'s stem.



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Hi Ed! Good to hear from you. How's life on your coast? Not so many fires here now that you guys have finally sent some rain over this way!

Re White, we do have E.M. White, but not White Canoe Co. Shall we start a new thread or converse by email?

Hope all is well,
I'm of the mind that your rudder is not an original Rushton rudder. I've attached a photo of a typical Rushton wood rudder. Notice that the shape of both the rudder and the rudder head are distinct and quite refined. This one happens to be curly maple, but most I've seen are cherry.

Rushton would have mounted pintles on the rudder, whereas yours has gudgeons. Rushton gudgeons would have "closed eyes" (for lack of a better term), whereas yours are open, see the top views in the second image Kathy posted.

I've never had the opportunity to see an Indian Girl set up with a Rushton rudder. Unfortunately, my reprint of the Indian Girl reprint (available from WCHA) is 200 miles away, so I can't peek in that to see what they offered, but none of the other catalogs we have access to, including 4 from the IG period 1902-1915, show a rudder designed to fit the Indian Girl. As Michael points out, the wood rudder as shown in the image is intended to go on a straight stern post. The Nomads, which are another Rushton model to be regularly fitted with rudders, have the metal drop rudders.

One last point, a couple of Indian Girl Paddler magazines from 1909 describe setting up the Indian Girl for sail, and only discuss using the paddle for steering - no mention of a rudder. It is possible Rushton, Inc., never offered a rudder specifically designed for the IG...



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I took some photos this morning of rudder hardware from a Rushton boat and from a Rushton canoe for comparison. See below.

But first, the Indian Girl catalog reprint from 1910 has one full page devoted to sailing canoes. The text describes a lateen rig, "a special fitting, known as a "Mast Step and Band"", and leeboards. There is no mention of a rudder. The accompanying image shows a canoe set up with lateen rig and leeboards, but no rudder. I also found mention of birch being used for rudders in another Rushton catalog, but still no mention of oak (nor mahogany for that matter).

The photos attached here show gudgeons (attached to the boat, not the rudder) from a decked sailing canoe first, and then from a square-stern boat. They look very similar and are identical to those from Rushton's catalogs. They are heavy castings, and the hole is enclosed. Because the second photo shows hardware from a square stern, similar to the one in the old photo in Todd's post, the upper gudgeon is cut down to fit the stern post which only provides a small attacment point after the transom.



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Assuming that the gudgeons on the blade are in their original positions (which it looks like they are) I think MGC's rudder was built for a canoe with a curved stem, not a square stern or a boat with a straight sternpost/skeg on it's back end. The first thing that struck me when I saw the photo was that the gudgeons on the rudder were abnormally close together. On a straight sternpost, they would probably have been farther apart for more strength. However, when you mount their mates on a curve (using gudgeons on both the stern and the rugger blade, connected with one long pin, which is the reason that the blade itself has gudgeons) and the pin holes have to line up, then the upper and lower gudgeons have to be pretty close together and relatively high in order to keep the rudder vertical.

I'm certainly not a Rushton scholar, but nearly all the Rushton rudders that I can remember are straight along their front edge (rather than a shape which somehow followed a curved stern). If the rudders you build normally have straight leading edges and someone with a curved stern stem wanted one, four gudgeons, close together and one long pin would be the way to do it. Functionally, whether the leading edge of the blade is curved to match the canoe or straight and plumb doesn't matter much. I could certainly be wrong, but this is the probable scenario that came to mind.


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I have no way to authenticate this, hence the question.
Looks like there is no consensus. It's clearly an old rudder. The boat was setup with this so any doubts about a girl with a rudder, sorry, here tis........ I also have the sail.
The canoe came from a camp on the Racquette River in the Colton area. My friend and I traded a Grumman for it about 35 years ago. It had been in the same family for about 30 or so years. That leaves a 25 or so year gap.
They said that it was always setup to sail. Interestingly they were using the rudder to mark the road to their camp.
I will eventually restore it and I'll mount the rudder hardware when I do.
It's going to be a while, the boat is in pretty bad shape. I have some easier projects lined up.
Someone asked about a White? I do not own one. I have a 20 foot Stelmok and a 17 1/2 Traveller.
I'd be interested in having this boat featured in Canoe Sailing Magazine, regardless of its condition. Following any restoration would also make for some very worthwhile articles.
Another rudder

Here is a rudder off of my other sailing canoe as a contrast to the one that I posted earlier. No point being made here other than to illustrate an alternative canoe rudder mounting.


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Interesting. It appears--if I'm seeing this right--that the lower pintle inserts upward into a hole in the hull bottom and is secured by some means at the top. Curious....
Found this while poking around the internet. Just another photo (circa 1882 according to the St. Lawrence County Historical Association) to compare with in this now very old thread.

This may be a well-known shot, so I apologize if I'm not bringing anything new to the conversation. I just found the thread interesting.

This is Rushton himself with a Stella Maris canoe. I know next to nothing about sail rigs, but the overall shape looks similar to me. The way it's constructed seems similar as well; I think I can see a very faint line above that bottom curve - perhaps a separate piece like MGC's example.


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