This is a first pass at getting information out on removing and replacing the rudder. Someone on the Hunter site asked about working on the rudder on his 27' Hunter, I wrote the following. When I have time, I'll try to clean it up a bit, but in the meantime it might help someone.
I've done several repairs on my rudder, and removed it several times in the water. Mine is a H37 Cutter, I don't know if it is the same construction, but I suspect it is. If so, these tips may help.
> 4. Tie a line to the rudder because it will sink.<
Assuming it is a foam filled rudder like the bigger boats, which I strongly suspect it is, it won't sink, but the opposite is true - it will be hard to push out the bottom.
Yours will be a smaller rudder, so less buoyancy, but what I did was to take all the hardware off, then, standing on the ladder at the transom, I pushed it out the bottom with my foot. This is a bit more trouble than it might sound on the surface, because the buoyancy will make it want to get to the top. It will try to go sideways, causing the shaft to bind in the bearings, and with the leverage, you'll have to work at it, wiggling it from side to side and fore and aft. The second problem is, when it comes free it will shoot to the top, and being like a flat wing, it will take off which ever way it wants to. You can't really stop it, but you can guide it until it hits the surface. You don't want it shooting crossways through the water and have it hit your leg or another boat. Be prepared for it and you'll do ok. It may be a bit of a shock if you weren't expecting that. It might be good to tie a line to it with some slack so that you don't have to swim too far to get it.
If it is water logged, though, it may sink like a rock, so I would tie a line to it before removing anything just to be safe. Again, if yours is like mine it has a flat piece welded across the opening in the top of the tube to keep the emergency tiller from turning in the tube. You can tie a line around that and let it go down through the bottom.
>5. If you shear the bolts trying to get them out you might want to price a new quadrant. Getting the stubs out after they've been sheared will be a real bugger<
Very true, and I doubt you'll get them out in one piece, or at least without bringing half the aluminun threads with them. However, you can easily drill out the stubs to the 3/8" hole size and then through bolt it, using lock nuts on the other side. In my mind, that is the way it should have been done in the first place, but they probably saved a nickel each on the bolts, and maybe another dime each on the nuts. If you're concerned about getting the bolt stubs drilled out, email me, it's not too difficult. Unless your quadrant has other damages I don't think you'd need to replace it. The neversieze is a great idea regardless.
If your rudder is like mine, it isn't a gel coat, it is plastic on the outside. Just under the plastic is foam, and the only other thing in there is a stainless frame. I'd make certain of what the construction is before starting to grind on it.
On mine, the cables go around the quadrant, then through some stainless eyebolts. They are held in the eyebolts by the cable being doubled back on it's self, then held with cable clamps. You don't need to remove these clamps unless they are in poor shape. The eyebolts come out the front of the quadrant, on the top, and take (I think) a 1/2" nut. It's a long threaded end, but taking those nuts off removes the cables from the quadrant. Assuming, of course, that yours is similar construction to mine.
If worse comes to worse, I expect that you can get a new rudder made by Foss Foam in Clearwater. They priced a new one for my H37 cutter at about $1200 3 years ago. I'd think yours would be less.
Putting it back in, in the water, means that you must make it sink and then come up in a controlled way. I did that by tying a couple anchors (it took about 70 lbs to sink mine) to it, tying it in such a way that it will hang vertical in the water about the same way as it would go in the boat. Run a line through the bearings where the rudder will end up, just like you did when it came out, then take it to the hole in the top of the rudder shaft. make sure you've planned on how to remove the anchors or whatever you weight it down with - the first time I had a real bear of a problem removing all the stuff with the load on it!
Put the whole mess in the water, work the anchor back up through the bearings, using the line to pull it, problably a helper in the water to wiggle the anchors and rudder around, (I didn't have a helper - it sure would have been better) get it in place and take all the extra stuff off. There is nothing that is real difficult, it's just another one of those boat projects that take about 10 times the effort that you'd expect.