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Old 23-12-2008, 16:06   #1
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Steering Wheel Cover - Not Leather

I'll start by stating that I have grip problems - carpel tunnel and age. On my last boat I had a tiller, and I had it nicely taped up, and I spent a lot of time with my leg over the tiller as well. And of course, there is the autohelm, but it isn't sailing if you don't hand steer part of the time.

A polished stainless wheel seems the worst of all possible choices, at least for me. It looks fine. Leather is OK, but I would rather have something that increased the diameter of the wheel as well. That would help me. I have seen wheels nicely wrapped in rope and liked the feel, but I have been unable to find any description of the line used or the process involved. It occurs to me if I just start wrapping, it will slid around when the dampness stretches the rope. Perhaps some sort of cloth tape should go under the line. Is it tied off or wrapped in some special manner at the spokes?

Any advise would be appreciated.
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Old 23-12-2008, 16:56   #2
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You can tale a very long line and tie hitches which will look like a spiral! Depending on the thickness of the rope will determine how much the diameter increases. It will look "pretty", nautical and provide excellent grip! It's cheap, fun and can be changed and cleaned!
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Old 24-12-2008, 11:21   #3
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When I purchased a leather wheel cover, it also came with some precut closed cell foam which was installed first. It was spiral taped in place, then the leather was put over that and laced.

Maybe this foam could be used beneath spiraled line as a base to keep it from slipping and add a measure of softness for increased grip.

Steve B.
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Old 24-12-2008, 11:50   #4
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Senor Mecanico where did you purchase you wheel cover and how do you like it? can you post a pic? I am considering one at this time, thanks in advance.
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Old 24-12-2008, 13:29   #5
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I can't see a wheel as a substitute for a tiller. About the only way a wheel is easier to use is if it's a dead feeling hydraulic one. "All cable steering wheels that I've used require more force than a properly proportioned tiller and it's all arm strength. At least with a tiller you can use your whole upper body backed up with your legs to input steering. Further, you can steer with your legs with a tiller which can't be done with a wheel. I wouldn't be looking at a wheel if my problem is grip strength.

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Old 24-12-2008, 13:41   #6
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Thinwater,

There's a fancy piece of decorative ropework called the "long Turk's Head" that's sometimes used to fashion a comfortable hand grip on a tiller or an oar. I've done the standard Turk's Head, but never tried the "long" version.

You might try a Google search to see if it would work for you.
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Old 24-12-2008, 13:47   #7
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Edson makes wheel covers for all the wheels they sell. I added a leather cover . It came out fine but it was a lot of work to sew the cover on and pull the threads tight. Once done it does not slip even a little. Since the cover sews around the spokes you should see no slippage. You don't need anything under it. When it's just a bit cool the plain steel wheel gets pretty cold. Gloves add thickness as well.

Using half hitches with a quality double braid cord would add thickness and be inexpensive. Something small like 6 mm might work the best. The half hitches will stand up where the line bends to make it twice as thick along a spiral. You could get fancy and change colors at the wheel center point as well or add a turks head after. It just takes a little practice to get the tension right. It shouldn't slip either since the spokes will prevent it. You just need to lay down the wraps as tight and as closely spaced as you can. Friction should hold it well and the half hitches won't unravel.
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Old 24-12-2008, 13:47   #8
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Tiller vs wheel

First, thanks for all of the responses.

I agree on the wheel vs tiller on a 32 foot boat, to be honest. Wonder if it is a matter of what the "market" wants. Perhaps it is mounting flexibility and that wheels are easier to locate on a catamaran. I would chose a tiller, I think. Steering with the feet in the spokes is not too bad, either.

However, cats can be heavier on the helm for their size. There is twice the waterline to force through a turn.
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Old 24-12-2008, 15:51   #9
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Senor Mecanico where did you purchase you wheel cover and how do you like it? can you post a pic? I am considering one at this time, thanks in advance.
Your wish is my command, even though it's blowing and raining.

We purchased it in Seattle from a place called Boat Leather.
Boat Leather, Leather Products for the Marine Environment

It was $175. Spendy, but it is very good quality thick Elk hide.
The closed cell foam made the SS wheel noticeably thicker which was fine with me. My wife and I stitched it on together. Two people working together makes it much easier and faster to install, and the stitches are consistent.

We didn't follow their stitching suggestion, we did a herringbone type stitch. I think it looks a little more elegant. Also, we left the end seams on the sides instead of the top and bottom.

In the PNW, you need either a covered or wood wheel. That SS if wet or cold will freeze your hands very quickly.

As you can see in the picture, most of the last 2 weeks worth of global warming bits have melted.

Steve B.
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Old 25-12-2008, 11:14   #10
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You're lucky, senormechanico; we still have about 2' on the deck this morning.

Cockscombing in a soft cotton line over something even softer like the closed cell foam would be an interesting knotwork project. Another idea might be some of the bicycle handlebar foams or wraps with gel in them - they're already designed to take a lot of wear and tear as well as exposure to weather.
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Old 25-12-2008, 12:02   #11
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Senor Mecanico, thanks a lot and thanks for following my wishes under the rain lol lol

Hope to see you on board sv Softair one day
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Old 25-12-2008, 12:02   #12
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Simple ,cheap and easy...wrap it with one piece of continous nylon cording while wet...start at a spoke..and just wrap as tight as you can, jump the next spoke and keep going..soft on the hands yet great grip...dirt? who cares..

As far as wheel steering ? sounds like ruder or sail trim issue problums to me...I steered with 2 fingers in 47 knots running or to wind didnt matter.
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Old 25-12-2008, 16:25   #13
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Quote:
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Simple ,cheap and easy...wrap it with one piece of continous nylon cording while wet...start at a spoke..and just wrap as tight as you can, jump the next spoke and keep going..soft on the hands yet great grip...dirt? who cares..

As far as wheel steering ? sounds like ruder or sail trim issue problums to me...I steered with 2 fingers in 47 knots running or to wind didnt matter.
That is my plan, when/if there is ever a boat.
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Old 25-12-2008, 17:29   #14
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I have a book The Marlinespike sailor by Hervey Garrett Smith it describes and illustrates, cockscombing, french spiral hitching, grafting, pointing, coachwhipping and many other decorative and functional ways to wrap a wheel. Many other ropework and old school methods. I recommend.
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Old 25-12-2008, 20:08   #15
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Forsailbyowner,

You beat me to the recommendation for The Marlinspike Sailor. A "must have" for all sailors.
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