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Old 23-03-2015, 10:48   #1
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Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

I have broken my Teleflex Light Duty Helm Unit for the third time in six years . This is in my dinghy; it steers a 25 horsepower Mariner outboard.

I am surely doing something wrong.

I don't have a lot of experience with wheel-steered outboards, so maybe someone on here can give me some tips.

The problem is that whenever I don't use the dinghy for even a few weeks, the cables start sticking. I replaced the cables last summer, and made sure they were well-greased (at least I thought I did). I also grease the rod which is located next to the motor -- it has two grease nipples for this purpose, and I have a grease gun.

But it still sticks. Sometimes I can work it loose, then it works fine as long as I don't let it stand. But sometimes it doesn't -- and even slight force against stuck cables breaks the Teleflex helm unit

I'm really sick of this -- what am I doing wrong?
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Old 23-03-2015, 10:51   #2
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

Hmmm... that's the rack and gear system? Where is it breaking? the cable or the gear? That should be an easy task for that unit. They are used up to 250 hp or so.... or is yours just a smaller very light unit?
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Old 23-03-2015, 11:11   #3
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Hmmm... that's the rack and gear system? Where is it breaking? the cable or the gear? That should be an easy task for that unit. They are used up to 250 hp or so.... or is yours just a smaller very light unit?
This is the "Teleflex Light Duty Helm" -- for up to 53 horsepower. It has a plastic gear which grips ribs in the cable. This plastic gear gets torn up if you force it.
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Old 23-03-2015, 11:34   #4
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

I don't know, I've had them on many boats with no issues, to include even "stick steered" boats, but none had plastic gears that I know of.
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Old 23-03-2015, 11:38   #5
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

Hopefully someone knows that unit. How hard is it to turn the engine without the gear on the cable but with the cable still attached? The type I know of are metal gear and linear gear operated. If you have room for one of those they should work fine.
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Old 23-03-2015, 11:41   #6
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Hopefully someone knows that unit. How hard is it to turn the engine without the gear on the cable but with the cable still attached? The type I know of are metal gear and linear gear operated. If you have room for one of those they should work fine.
That looks a good bit sturdier than what I have.

My steering is fine when it's not stuck. You can steer almost with one finger. Then why it seizes up so fiercely, I just can't imagine.
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Old 23-03-2015, 11:43   #7
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

Yeah, I reread your post, the cables are failing not the plastic gear right? Seems weird. Can you get Teflon lined cables for those? or are you greasing a Teflon lined cable? not sure that would be good.....
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Old 23-03-2015, 13:22   #8
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

The three sources of this i have experienced are:

1) sticking in the cable itself. For a newish cable this is usually caused by the cable being bent too severely at some point. This can have a huge impact on cable lifespan. When they're new the cables have a lubricating layer of something like teflon between the moving bit and the outside sheaf. If it's bent too severely this teflon layer gets worn through really quickly. Once it's gone, all the grease in the world will only be a temporary solution, if it fixes it at all, and can actually make the situation worse by interacting with any remaining teflon to make it brittle and not slippery any more. Try to lead the cables differently to minimise tight bends.

2) Sticking where the cable attaches to the engine. The engine end is usually lubricated via a grease nipple and requires a grease gun and regular squirts. That pressure is really necessary to get the grease in there properly and keep water out. However, if it's already sticking then it's too late. You have gunky old grease in there or, worse, corrosion. You'll have to take out the steering rod from the engine, figure out how to really clean out that tube on the engine really nicely (when i had this issue i cleaned with solvent first then found a little circular wire brush on a really long stick, attached to a drill) and then re-assemble before squirting liberal quantities of grease through the nipple. If no nipple, you'll have to grease the rod regularly by taking the whole thing apart.

3) Sticking in the engine mid-section. Since you can turn the engine fine when the cable is disconnected entirely, this is not the cause of your problem.

Good luck!
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Old 23-03-2015, 13:49   #9
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

I don't know what year your outboard is, but I've had this problem with a lot of outboards when I used to work on them a bit. The tube through which the steering shaft passes is not stainless and would get pretty foul, causing the shaft to stick in the tube freezing the steering. It would happen to well maintained as well as not so well maintained engines.

The manufacturers may have changed to a stainless tube, in which case this may not apply (though I've seen dried up grease be as much a problem as rust), but what I always did was remove the shaft from the tube, get a long dowel that would fit loosely in the tube, saw a 2" slot in the end of the dowel, slip a 2" x 4" piece of 100 grit or so sandpaper in the slot, put the other end of the dowel a drill, and clean out the inside of the tube, using lots of solvent (I used diesel) to keep everything flushed out. Eventually it would get clean, and after cleaning and re-lubricating the inside of the tube everything would be fine. It's a pretty messy job though, and usually you had to take the motor off to do it.

I didn't have an example of the tool described, but I had one I made for something with a larger bore diameter:
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Old 24-03-2015, 08:50   #10
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

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3) Sticking in the engine mid-section. Since you can turn the engine fine when the cable is disconnected entirely, this is not the cause of your problem.
Dockhead, did you say "can turn the engine fine when the cable is disconnected entirely"?

If not, then the problem could be lack of lubrication of the engine steering post which should have one or more grease nipples.
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Old 25-03-2015, 11:52   #11
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

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Dockhead, did you say "can turn the engine fine when the cable is disconnected entirely"?

If not, then the problem could be lack of lubrication of the engine steering post which should have one or more grease nipples.
Nope, i just re-read what he'd written and he did not in fact! In that case, the first thing to do is to disconnect the cable and see if the engine turns easily by hand. If so, your problem is indeed with the cable of the rod going through the engine, but if it doesn't move easily then it's likely sticking in the mid-section. There is usually a grease nipple for this as well and you could try giving it some squirts, but if that doesn't work then you need to pull apart the mid-section from the rest of it (which usually involves disconnecting a few things like the gear shift rod etc. first, depending on manufacturer) and clean that up.

Have you looked into it any more since you started the thread?
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Old 26-03-2015, 03:04   #12
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

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Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
Nope, i just re-read what he'd written and he did not in fact! In that case, the first thing to do is to disconnect the cable and see if the engine turns easily by hand. If so, your problem is indeed with the cable of the rod going through the engine, but if it doesn't move easily then it's likely sticking in the mid-section. There is usually a grease nipple for this as well and you could try giving it some squirts, but if that doesn't work then you need to pull apart the mid-section from the rest of it (which usually involves disconnecting a few things like the gear shift rod etc. first, depending on manufacturer) and clean that up.

Have you looked into it any more since you started the thread?
Thanks; I'll do exactly that when I get back to the boat today. Sounds like the right approach ; cheers.

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Old 26-03-2015, 05:19   #13
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

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... I replaced the cables last summer, and made sure they were well-greased (at least I thought I did). I also grease the rod which is located next to the motor -- it has two grease nipples for this purpose, and I have a grease gun...
For the inner cable, better than grease is auto-transmission fluid. Grease dries out and gums up.

Completely remove the inner cable. Point the motor end of the outer cable up while you feed the inner cable back in, dribbling ATF down into the cable at the same time.
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Old 26-03-2015, 16:23   #14
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Re: Teleflex Steering for Outboard -- Maintenance Issue

I have the same problem with sticking. For me, it is the steering shaft on the engine. I have just learned to move the engine back and forth, couple of times every 2 months. No problems since starting doing this.




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