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Auto release cleats ... for leeboards and rudder blades

This page is documenting my groping towards a simple auto release cleat for lee boards and kick up rudders. Some ideas are mine and some contributed by others.


Above is my latest idea using a clam cleat horizontally. It requires screwing a small clam cleat to a wood block on its edge. A hole is drilled through the block for a bolt to attach it to the till handle. A wing nut and plastic washer (cut from a yogurt or coffee lid.) between the block and the tiller. Altering the tightness of the wing nut effects the tension needed to pivot the block. Under regular use it stays straight and grips the down haul line to the rudder blade. When the bottom or an obstacle is hit it pivots and releases the line. In some ways this seems a little simpler than the commercial ones shown below. And a $3 cleat and a bolt and block of wood is cheaper than the $20 "store bought" ones and can be made to use smaller lines. (1/8" to 3/16") The drawing shows an edge/end view of the tiller on the left and top views middle and right. This arrangement could be bolted to on the outside of a gunnel near your leeboard, the inboard wingnut being easy to adjust, and nothing on the rail to catch other lines.

Below was my first attempt at solving this riddle. .

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This could be mounted on the tiller handle, or on the inside of the rail near the leeboard.
Reinventing the wheel!

Turns out West Marine sells Rudder Auto release cleats - so I am reinventing the wheel. I've heard they are made smaller than this one, but I haven't yet found them. And since this one is $20 I may still make some. But it does offer a good alternative to my hinge plate. Put the cleat in a piece of aluminum channel and attach it with a pin at one end. It could still be held down with Velcro or bungee or some kind of cam arrangement.

Here are ones from the ClamCleat people.
And this great idea from Duckworks Chuck:

"There is another way to do it with those molded Jam
cleats - just drill out the bottom of the pinch so that the rope gets
tighter and tighter as you pull on it until it busts out the other side. -"
Chuck

I'm definitely going to try that!  djb

Below  is Chuck L's set up on his Caprice. (Visit his Duckworks Magazine.)

 leeboardrelease2.jpg (21439 bytes) leeboardrelease3.jpg (19554 bytes)  The left image  is a simple eye bolted to the rubrail. Its job is to anchor the bungee cord. The right  part consists of a button and thumb. The button (on the left) merely limits the motion of the pivoting thumb. The thumb will swing forward, releasing the rope holding the board down, if there is sufficient pressure. The result is that nothing breaks when you run aground. I have tested the system, and it works, in fact, you get a loud report when the thumb snaps back.
leeboardrelease.jpg (33917 bytes) An overview of the contraption. That is a regular bungee cord providing the "spring" action. The rope from the leeboard loops over the forward thumb.
leeboard_releasesketch.gif (5082 bytes) Here's a sketch of a similar bungee arrangement. I found this in the Yahoo Bolger2 group under files. It was just attributed to "Richard."

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