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Old 05-03-2016, 20:08   #1
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worm gear steering play

Hi. Not sure I am posting this to the right part of the forum, but I'll give it a go. We have a Pearson Countess, 1965, with worm gear steering. There is play in the steering. It looks like the worm gear or the running nut joined to the worm gear may have worn threads, causing play in the steering (i.e., a "loose feel" to the helm, especially when turning the wheel hard to port or starboard and stopping abruptly when at anchor, and likewise when at anchor in a swell). Is anyone familiar with this problem? Is there a risk of total sudden steering failure, or just gradual worsening over time? Is there another cause that I may have overlooked? (Though I think I can see play in the worm gear/running nut, I want to be sure there is not something else that I might be missing. When I first noticed the problem, I thought the rudder might have somehow become loose on its shaft, for example, but I dove on it and that is not the case.) Thanks for any advice or suggestions! -bill (aboard Rocinante, currently in Guatemala)

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Old 05-03-2016, 21:41   #2
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Re: worm gear steering play

So when you dove in to check the rudder, did you yank on it mightly, back & forth, with the steering gear firmly locked in place, & yet experience zero play in the rudder?


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Old 05-03-2016, 22:04   #3
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Re: worm gear steering play

Welcome to CF, Bill (or at least your first post). Can't help you on the steering issue, but wanted to say hello. Hope cruising life has been going well for you and L., and that you find good help here. It's a nice group -- most are fairly well-behaved, too

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Old 05-03-2016, 23:48   #4
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Re: worm gear steering play

We have an Edson double arm worm gear. What type do you have? The part that rides the threaded shaft is what you're calling the nut?

The wear components tend to be a couple heavy (presume bronze) bushings in the arms. But all in all the worm gears are pretty indestructible so I would tend to look elsewhere in the system for problems.

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Old 06-03-2016, 15:17   #5
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Re: worm gear steering play

Bill, I had a similar problem a few years ago with my now 36 year old Edson warm gear. The problem, in my case, was the retaining ring in the worm shaft just aft of the rear pillow block bearing. It had loosened and slipped back allowing the worm shaft to have fore and aft play. I simply move it forward against the pillow block and it removed the play in the steering.I had another incident of play that was contributed to cap that retains the aft pillow block. The two 9/16 bolt had come loose. I retightened them, also added lock washers and the problem went away.
As I recall, I found some good setup and maintenance info on the Edson webpage.
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