Has anyone replaced the rudder bearings on a beneteau 40 2008/9? 

If someone has done this job could they please tell me what the part numbers are for both the bronze upper and lower bearing sleeves and also for the nylon thrust washers. The jefa? rudder shaft diameter is 60mm.

I have !ooked on the beneteau spare parts website without success.

Also I am trying to find the workshop notes for rep!acing the bearings as I know with the oceanis 411 the bottom bearing is glued (3M 5200) in but I don't know if the bearings are glued in on the beneteau 40.

I'm also hoping to find out the torque settings for the quadrant Bo!ts.

Many thanks for any information.

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I'm a bit surprised you need to replace the bearings on an 2008. I've not heard of any issues other than early model 43s required a brace be installed at the quadrant. Actually the issue was discovered by Franc who happens to own and run this site. Bottom line I'd call Beneteau and talk to someone meone about it. They're always very helpful with parts, technical issues, etc.
Good luck
October Moon

Hi Mike, thanks for the input!

Are there any rough guidelines for when the bearings need replacing? What is too much play? it seems a hard question to answer! I think there's about 15k miles on the bearings.

we've been sailing full time for the last 3 years and just recently I noticed slight clunk, clunk noise coming from the helm it's not a regular occurrence, to exercise any play in the helm it requires either a particular seaway(, we need to be going dead downwind with the waves slightly abeam) or the autopilot is searching too much. 

The ball joint on our LS hydraulic ram had a bit of play so I tightened that up, the noise disappeard.

 But after hauling hard side to side on the steering quadrant while my partner listened she thinks the sound is still there. Diving under the boat hauling on the rudder, it seems to move more than I remember the last time I checked.

Also the quadrant also seems to move more than I would like.

One thing I did notice when we were hauled is there is play in the rudder shaft up and down , perhaps the quadrant and auto helm arms through-bolts were drilled a bit off, we are talking about 2 or 2.5  mm play, which increases the rudder play, perhaps the nylon thrust washers are a bit worn?

We're heading through the Panama to the Pacific and I thought, despite the expense it would be good insurance to replace the bearings.. 

Thanks for any input!

I haven't see any recommendations on rudder bearing replacement. You may want to discuss the issue with your local Beneteau dealer service manger.

As for what you've identified I'll share my thoughts. 

As I mentioned before we have over 10K nautical miles on our 2008 43 and haven't noticed any change in the helm. I would expect some vertical play in the rudder. The 2, 2.5mm play you have does't seem excessive to me.

The side to side motion could be due to excess play in the cable/chain system between the wheel and quadrant.

Do all the cables look good and without any unraveled strands?

Are the pulleys and sprockets lubed and free moving?

Make sure the cable/chains for both wheels are not overly tight. While at the dock in calm water the wheel should have a small amount of play.

Are the wheel keys on the spline stainless steel and properly seated?

Is the starboard wheel lock backed off enough?

Is there any interference from the Autopilot drive unit?

I would make sure the entire system is checked, adjusted and lubricated as necessary before going after the rudder bearings. Always start with the simple things and leave the complex for last. And like I mentioned above contact your local Beneteau service mgr and get their thoughts.

Good luck and keep us posted.


Thanks for your thoughts: For us it's always difficult to get any useful information from a beneteau, we brought the boat from a useless dealer and no longer try to get any information from him.

This is also complicated by the fact we have been on the road quite a while and the internet access is pretty patchy. 

Do you know of a technical oriented dealer that might field a few email questions.?

Today I asked one neighbor beneteau boat if i could shake their was an older 38, well the play in the bottom bearing was scary, really scary, perhaps as much as 5mm!! I didn't know what to tell the owner, they are just about to leave heading north for 1000 Guatemala.

If you're not comfortable talking to your dealer try calling the factory in South Carolina. I've called them a number of times when I had exhausted my usual resources and they've been very good sharing information. I'd start with the parts dept as they work closely with the technical guys.
Their numbers are:
Main office 843-629-5300
Parts 843-629-5320
Good luck

hi i have an 87/89 43 whats this brace you're talking about my boat keeps wandering and i have to keep correcting

Robert, I'm afraid your 43 is a different model. The 40/43 this forum is made up of were introduced in 2007/08. That's not saying the discussion on rudders isn't helpful though.


I've been wondering, if I should do the same in my B40/2007. The rudder has become heavy (high fricton?) and the problem is not in the steering cylinder. Anyone had similar problem?


Simo, see my reply to the original post. There are a lot of items in the steering system that can cause heavy steering. Ensure everything is properly adjusted and lubricated before you do any major work on the rudder bearings.

Good luck


Reporting in with more nformation:��

(1) I talked to a marine engineer he had some VERY interesting bits of information about rudders.

He told me there should be NO play in the bearings any AT ALL, any is out of spec.

He fixed a loose bearing on one boat, underway, by inserting a plastic Coke bottle, it has lasted several thousand miles and is still OK!

He suggested the [lower] autohelm arm's through shaft bolt is critical and should be replaced or a clamp added, a fail is catastrophic from the leverage if the rudder drops onto the top quadrant.

A very recent beneteau rudder failure was caused by resonance from the propeller amplified buy loose steering cables that destroyed the bottom bearing housing causing a slowish leak.

In a thousand miles the shaft might go through 80,000 cycles, but bearing failure isn't normally unpredictable, so the play will slowly increase to the point there is a mechanical failure - replace early or check regularly.

(2) I talked to Beneteau tech support:

12mm is the maximum play allowable on a NEW beneteau at the bottom rudder tip. Old boats: "If you can feel any movement of the rudder shaft IN the shaft log then it's time to sort out the problem"

Perhaps it's the bearings, could also be the shaft is warn thinner, the shaft log itself has been ovaled or one of many other factors.

"The quadrant and autohelm arms don't have published torque settings for the through and clamping bolts". I forgot to ask about cable tension.

Scary! It is obvious that the torque is critical as both arms clamp the rudder shaft, to much torque crushes or weakenes the (hollow) rudder tube to little and the rudder is only held by the through bolts.

(3) Measurements I made when the boat was 5 years old are very! surprising - in light of the spec beneteau provided of 12mm! Perhaps my figures were contaminated by the force I used (blade flex?)or the way I did the measurements?! Hmm not sure..

Rudder dimensions:
shaft = 500mm (between top and bottom bearings)
blade = 1600mm (below bottom bearing to tip)
Total length = 2100mm

Fore-aft play: = 51.15mm(bottom tip)
When pulled really hard and held under tension. calipers used.

Side-to-side play: = 42.21mm
Pulled as hard as possible, loverly assistant using calipers.

Wow looks like you found the answers. I find it strange that new 12mm is acceptable. I would think new would be zero or close to it and that the 12mm would be the indicator that it's time to repair it. Clearly the play you measured is well beyond normal. It's easy to understand why you're concerned.
As for the quadrant the 40/43 had a retrofit introduced early on that was designed to strengthen the area where the quadrant met the hull. I think I mentioned that in an earlier post. Not sure it's the same potential issue you mentioned above.
The steering cables should be snug with some but very little play in them. The idea is to have them snug enough to provide tight steering but not so tight they'll cause stress on the cables connections, pulleys, etc.
All in all it sounds like you're facing a major repair on the bearings. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Drop a big concrete block near the rudder of any B40/B43 as a measuring reference and pull really hard on the rudder and I bet beer you see similar figures, 30,40,50mm Flex, it's not dead play from the bearings something else, not sure what, everything is plexus-ed together, perhaps that? Perhaps I pulled hard enough to flex the boat in the cradle?!

When I first got our B40 I compared the measurements I got to a hellberg-rassy in the yard which had none at all and a full skeg rudder which had a small amount of play in the bearings but no "flex".at that time I don't think there was any play in our bearings at all.

I just checked an old B38 here in Panama which has a large amount of play, it was obvious that the shaft was moving in the log, I'm not saying ours is ok but with the b38 it is clear it needs immediate attention, the owner was oblivious.

I'm going to ask the marine engineer anchored a few boats down if he can take a look while I haul on the rudder, he has 35years as a chief engineer and has been through, was it 16 boats!


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