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Old 03-26-2010, 01:14 PM   #1
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Steering gear adjustment

I am about to install a wheel pilot on my MT 34' sedan that still has the original mechanical steering system. There feels like a bit of play in the steering and it probably needs to be tightened up for the wheel pilot to function properly.

I see lots of chains, sprockets, pipes and a few grease nipples in the electrical cabinet and under the deck all the way back to the steering gear.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom to share on what I should be looking for, things to avoid, tips, tricks, traps, etc?

Thanks
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:58 PM   #2
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Mine has turn buckles in the elect compartment that can be adjusted to tighten to remove slack
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:21 PM   #3
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Mr. BL,
** Ditto on the turnbuckles.* Get in there and grease all the nipples.* There will probably be pillow block bearings along the length of the steering shaft running aft, most likely innaccesable.* Start at one end (I would start at the stern myself) and take the slack out of each chain run using the turnbuckles.* Have someone standing by at the wheel to wiggle the wheel as you adjust.* The last thing you want is to tighen the chains too much so as to create binding.
** Why not install the wheel pilot first and see how it works and then adjust accordingly?
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:13 AM   #4
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Steering gear adjustment

The usual problem is the boat will have some cabeling ., along with chain and shafts.

The shives for cable are required to be very large , and sometimes are not.

Either way chain and shafting is usually almost "forever" but the cable service life is never.

A really good inspection end to end , every cotter pin every clevis pin, every universal, every bearing and perhaps new (or at least measure and carry aboard) cable sections.

Most folks will accept more errors in their steering than a good AP will, so the AP will be moving the system far more (in small bits) than even an awake helmsman.

Much of the old bronze steering stuff is wonderful gear , a bit of grease , every decade or two keeps it that way.

Many times the U joints will have worn and suffered from lack of a grease gun Edison has them in stock, and if you buy one , you will be greasing the rest with great vigor!



-- Edited by FF on Saturday 27th of March 2010 05:16:25 AM
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:02 AM   #5
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Steering gear adjustment

Darrell, I posted a couple of pics of my installation on another thread where wheel pilots came up a few weeks ago. If there are any other details of the installation that might help, let me know. It was put in by a PO but I've fiddled with a little to improve cosmetics, etc.

The advice here and on MTOA listserv is right on.. the slop is almost certainly in either the chains behind the elect. panel, or the cable connected to the steering quadrant. Grease the chains well when you're in there.

When you select a spot to mount the control head, (ie fluxgate* compass) be sure to check proximity of any mounted VHF equipment. Transmitting too close to the compass will send you in crazy circles. Voice of experience.

Al

-- Edited by ARoss on Saturday 27th of March 2010 07:03:47 AM
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:53 AM   #6
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Grease the chains well when you're in there.

Good advice , but most folks dont know how.

To grease the chain remove it and soak it in diesel, gasoline whatever.

Hang it up to dry and get some waterproof grease .

My choice is synthetic as used to grease the front wheels of cars and trucks.

Put the grease in a double boiler (any old pan with the grease , heated in a second pan of boiling water) till the grease is really thin and soak the chain in the hot grease for 1/2 hour or so.

Turn it off and let the chain and grease cool together.

Before installation wipe the grease off the chain.

Outside grease does nothing , you refilled the areas that counts , inside the links and pins bu heating and soaking.

FF
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:49 AM   #7
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Make sure you check the condition of the mounting of the first sheeves from the quadrant.
I spent a very busy Xmas once in the Dry Tortugas glassing back a 3/4" failed plywood bulkhead, on a Dufour Sortilege, that had developed flex cracks and then failed catastophically. When I checked the other side, the same flex cracking was present.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:09 AM   #8
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Thanks to all for the input, lots of good stuff there.

So far I have inspected the chains & turnbuckles in the electrical cabinet.* The lower helm chain seems fine, the upper chain turnbuckle needed a turn or two to be as taut as I was comfortable with.* They were well greased and seemed fine.

The chains in the cockpit lazarette need a little attention.* Bone dry and rusty.* Depending on how big* a deal it is to get them out of there I may follow FF's recommendation to remove and soak them.* If it's more hassle than I want to deal with I'll grease 'em down and move on.

But, back to the whole issue of play in the system - there is very little play between the helm and the chains.* Maybe less than 10 degrees, just by eyeballing it anyhow.* I need a helper to watch the rudder for me to see how soon the rudder moves once the chains start moving.

- Darrell
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:29 AM   #9
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Just thought of another possibility -- is the steering quadrant loose on the rudder post? Heaven forbid... the rudder's loose on the post?
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:36 PM   #10
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Quote:
ARoss wrote:

Just thought of another possibility -- is the steering quadrant loose on the rudder post? Heaven forbid... the rudder's loose on the post?
Hopefully not.* But I need that helper to be sure.* My belief that there's slop in the system is because of 1) that small amount of travel between the wheel and when the chains start moving and 2) spending all my previous boating time in a tiller steered sailboat that has great "feel" and instant response.

Maybe, just maybe I'm steering a lumbering ox of a boat and expect it to have the feel of a smaller, faster, more nimble sailboat.* As in, "operator error"!



*
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:33 PM   #11
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Quote:
BaltimoreLurker wrote:
Maybe, just maybe I'm steering a lumbering ox of a boat and expect it to have the feel of a smaller, faster, more nimble sailboat.* As in, "operator error"!
That's a distinct possibility! It was true when I transitioned to a trawler.

*
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Old 03-31-2010, 04:49 PM   #12
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RE: Steering gear adjustment

Amen. My Catalina 34 would turn in its own boatlength. My Marine Trader 34 turns in ... well . a week?
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