Changing the steering bearings of Dufour 40 performance

There is a fault in the design of the steering axle of the Dufour 40 (2004) this same kind of design is used on some Bavarias also I think. The self-aligning plastic bearings can bend out of shape due to cumulating aluminium oxide and/or calcium. This will freeze up the steering. This was the case with our boat. We first noticed the problem when we picked up the boat from the seller, Essex Boatyards ltd. During the crossing of the north sea, the steering proved out to be unbearably stiff. In the end we had to change the helmsman every 10 minutes just to keep going. We hauled the boat out of the water at Ijmuiden and had the lower bearing burred bigger. This loosened the steering so we could continue towards Finland, but left a small lateral play in the rudder, which manifested as tremble in faster speeds. So we had to change the lower bearing during the next winter. And to those interested: No, Essex Boatyards did not think that this was a problem they should have noticed or corrected before selling us the boat, so the expences are on us.


How to change the bearings for the steering axle in a dufour 40.


1. Take the quadrant off and lower the blade to the ground. You need at least 69cm of free space below the rudder blade to get it out. The Bolt that goes through the quadrant is stainless steel and the quadrant is aluminium, so anticipate problems. We had to cut the bolt and burr the bolt out. I had stainless steel spacers installed for the hole to prevent the bolt from seizing up in the future (see pic. below)

qudrant1      quadrant2

After removing the blade, you’ll have to remove the lower bearing. To do so, you’ll have to brake it (without damaging the aluminium casing). First saw with a steel saw two adjacent grooves

photo 1

With a small chisel (e.g. 8mm) carefully chip away the plastic between the just-made-grooves.

photo 2

After a while the bearing should brake free, at least after you’ve cut it completely. Turn the bearing and pull it out.

photo 3

Grind and polish the casing with a nylon brush, try to get it as smooth as possible.

photo 4

Aluminium Casing

Place the new bearings (order from your Dufour importer) and re-assemby the whole system. There you have it. With the right tools this takes about 1 to 1.5h.

6 thoughts on “Changing the steering bearings of Dufour 40 performance

  1. I do have a new Dufour 40 E performance. The vessel is launched in May 2014 and
    after abouit 1500 miles sailing the rudder starts to screaming in the golfe f Biscay and waves of about 2 mtrs and more. The rudder housing ispivotimng and rotating around the shaft at the lower end where the shaft leaves the housing and were the white teflon rings are sitting and sliding on each other. This is noisy and I ‘m unsure how this will end.
    I feel unsafe going further off shore than 30 of odd miles.
    Can you advise

    • Hi,
      I’m not sure if the dufour 40e has similar construction as the older models, but if the housing is pivoting and rotating it sounds quite serious. Maybe some of the supporting laminate structures have a problem. Given that the boat is so new I would contact dufour yachts directly for advice. Avoiding off shore excursions Sounds like a good idea until the promblem has been looked at. It might require lifting the boat. Hope that the problem is easily resolved. Good luck.

  2. Nice pictures and advices how to do it.
    Now I’m in the same situasjon, my Dufour 40 P is from 2005 and steering is “like frozen”.
    So my question, hope You can help, from which company did you order new bearings, JP3 or the danish JEFA ?
    Next question is if you remember the diameter of rudder shaft ?
    Awaiting for a good advice

  3. Nice pics about change lower rudder bearings.
    I have same model Dufour40/ 2005, and i may have to do the same work.
    The question is the dia of the rudder stock and from where did you buy the bering,
    JP3 , or JEFA ?

    Best rgds

    • Hi. I Ordered the bearings from the Finnish importer of Dufour Yachts (which in turn ordered them straight from La Rochelle / Dufour). The Delivery was very slow, almost 8 months, so it’s good if you find the bearings from somewhere else. The diameter of our rudder shaft is 54mm.

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