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Old 10-28-2014, 12:18 PM   #1
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Best Angle for Ship's Wheel

I recall reading a study that concluded the best angle for a ship's wheel was 30 degrees from vertical. This is similar to most sport fisherman and center console boats, all of which are higher speed and require quicker maneuvering than an 8 knot trawler.

Does anyone have experience with an angled helm on a trawler, other than the traditional vertical wheel?
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:38 PM   #2
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I prefer the angled small wheel w/suicide knob of a CC over the larger straight mounted trawler wheel in docking situations because I'm standing. Cruising along and seated, I like the big wheel. I'm sure everyone is different and has their own preferences.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by High Wire View Post
I prefer the angled small wheel w/suicide knob of a CC over the larger straight mounted trawler wheel in docking situations because I'm standing. Cruising along and seated, I like the big wheel. I'm sure everyone is different and has their own preferences.
Exactly my feeling. That was the arrangement we had on our last boat - the angled wheel at the upper helm c/w suicide knob and the traditional wood spoked wheel at the lower. Always docked using the upper helm.

On our current boat we only have the traditional vertical wood spoked wheel in the pilothouse; what makes it work at the dock is the suicide knob attached.
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:36 PM   #4
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A vertical wheel takes up less space and provides a "traditional ship" feel.

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Old 10-28-2014, 03:17 PM   #5
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Actually, a vertical wheel takes up more space in my opinion, than one mounted out of the way on an angle up on the console. The vertical wheel is a bruise generator when trying to get from one side to the other, especially us big clumsy types. Hatteras was nice enough to put a nice bolt on the end of the shaft to sharpen the pain.

I also like those "Palm Beach" helms on the high performance sportfishers, with the big levered shifter/throttles on each side of the wheel for backing down on fish and close quarters docking that you can easily work while standing between them with back to the helm.
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:59 PM   #6
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The boat I fished on for years in Hawaii had a fairly small, angled wheel with hydraulic steering. It was okay. Our GB has a large, vertical wheel and virtually friction-free cable-chain steering. I find the large, vertical wheel much less tiring to use because I can simply rest my hand on top of it whether sitting or standing as opposed to reaching forward a bit and then pulling back and forth with my arms and/or wrists which is what we had to do with the angled wheel. This was part of the motivation for the owner of the boat in Hawaii to install an autopilot which we then used almost all the time.
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:10 PM   #7
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The size of the wheel is about leverage. Prior to power steering, the larger the vessel, the larger the wheel. Look at the old wooden ships and the size of those wheels. The larger the wheel, the closer to 90 degrees it will need to be mounted. Mount a wheel with a 4ft. diameter at 30 degrees and see how in the way it is then.
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Old 10-28-2014, 04:17 PM   #8
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As long as everything is hydraulic and has enough redundancy...I'd go jog lever.
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Old 10-28-2014, 05:43 PM   #9
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Vertical wheel and jog stick, however I let otto do a bunch of the steering.
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Old 10-28-2014, 06:01 PM   #10
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I see a lot of high speed ocean racers w flat wheels. Also was common on navy utility boats like 26 to 50' open personnel carriers. The flat wheel probably offers the best leverage though and the quickest response. But on a trawler valuable electronic equipment and compass space would need to be sacrificed.

I have a vertical helm and it's good for small harbor and rough going while standing. If steering effort is low enough (mine is) maneuvering in tight quarters requiring quick changes from full helm one way to full the other can be done w one finger against a spoke. Work's well .. for me.

However the time spent under way standing is for most all of us I assume not the majority of our helm time. It is while sitting that the big IMO drawback of the vertical helm raises it's head. Very little room for legs and knees. For this reason I think the 30 degree helm is probably best. But the seat position, the seat itself, the size (dia) of the helm and other variables are part of it.

When I bought Willy her helm was far too low to suit me. I raised it 4" and that wasn't enough but much much better.

But no I haven't had a trawler w a non vertical helm.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:21 PM   #11
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...If steering effort is low enough (mine is) maneuvering in tight quarters requiring quick changes from full helm one way to full the other can be done w one finger against a spoke. ...
Same here.
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:25 PM   #12
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If using the the Lower helm I usually use the AP follow up function since it's awkward to steer while sitting in the helm chair, if I'm coming into an inlet on the lower helm I flip the foot rest up on the chair and stand up and hand steer. Although I much prefer the angled helm on the FB.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:22 PM   #13
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At 6.3 knots...any angle is OK if I can fold my arms across it and take micro naps comfortably........
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Old 10-28-2014, 09:12 PM   #14
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I don't know the exact angle of mine but it's probably close to 30*. I have power steering that only requires a finger tip touch to make course corrections.

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Old 10-28-2014, 10:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
As long as everything is hydraulic and has enough redundancy...I'd go jog lever.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCOTTEDAVIS View Post
Vertical wheel and jog stick, however I let otto do a bunch of the steering.
I recognize those ideas . . . .
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:05 PM   #16
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I recognize those ideas . . . .

I really need to get one of those for my Ap-20, too bad there aren't any on ebay.
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:18 PM   #17
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A heavy, large, vertical wheel with external spokes can be "Thrown" hard over very quickly. (assuming a low friction system).

This guy demonstrates what I mean at about 2:00.



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Old 10-28-2014, 10:43 PM   #18
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I really need to get one of those for my Ap-20, too bad there aren't any on ebay.
Oliver,

Just create a saved ebay search with email notification and be patient. It took me about 3 months, but I found mine new for $950. I saw another a month ago for about $1,200 but it sold immediately. Here is a listing in the UK that might be an option.

I attached mine with a RAM mount so that it can be used in the pilothouse or the upper steering station when needed. Much less complicated than another hydraulic helm. Imagine 'fly-by-wire' on a 43-year old boat.

Good luck with your search.
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Old 10-28-2014, 11:06 PM   #19
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I have both and like the vertical wheel (SS with a leather wrap) at the lower helm for casual cruising. It is not a low-friction system and IIRC turns about 5 revs limit to limit but it's comfortable.

In a following sea, my semi-planing, square-stern boat becomes less well-behaved. It takes aggressive steering to keep the course. In those cases, I believe the FB helm with the smaller 30-ish degree offset SS wheel and suicide knob would be better able to keep up. The smaller wheel seems most comfortable to use while standing.
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:42 AM   #20
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The attached is a builder's photo of the bridge of a WWII Elco 80' PT. The wheel is about 18" in diameter and the steering was chain/cable or chain/lever/rod depending on the build number of the boat. I've had the opportunity to turn the wheel on a restored Elco PT and it was quite light. Of course the boat was out of the water and there was no prop blast against the rudders. There were a fair number of turns lock to lock as I recall.

PT crewmen I've interviewed told me that at speed the boat was steered by a hand on top of rhe rim or grasping one of the upper spokes. At slow speeds and maneuvering, the boat was steered by the steering knob fastened to the rim.
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