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Old 05-09-2010, 05:45   #46
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OK, how about a "real world" case in line with this thread-- I am the proud owner of a "new" 1970 Soverel 33 (v. 1- the cruising version not the later racing sled) that I just sailed/motored from Bradenton, FL to Rhode Island thus providing me with 2000 some miles of experience with her present wheel steering arrangement (quadrant on rudder shaft with cables to binnacle and worm gear). I am seriously considering converting to a tiller for many of the reasons discussed here. She is 33', 11,000 lbs displacement, turns on a dime but has no feel whatsoever (compared to my tiller-steered Pearson 24). When I mention my plans to a few friends with more experience than me they have reacted in horror (but without specific reasons). As far as I can tell, the main drawbacks would just be repositioning the engine controls, compass, and GPS- all currently mounted on the binnacle (the latter two surely too close to each othe btw). What am I missing? All you wheel fans (or othrrs) please chime in with reasons to rethink my plans if there are any (beyond losing a place to mount the unopened teak cockpit table I found stowed on the boat). Oh, forgot to mention that there are signs that the boat was originally tiller-steered and re-conversion should be straight-forward.Thanks

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Old 05-09-2010, 06:17   #47
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Why not use a system like the "Charles W Morgan" has.
The tiller, 8" x 8" x about 12 ft long, has the pedestal, wheel ,and steering cable drums, mounted on its forward end. Helmsman stands on tiller. When wheel is turned, whole assembly moves P or St., by way of 2 part purchase with quarter-mounted turning blocks.
Lotta deep water miles on that rig. Jus sayin--

so many projects--so little time !!
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:24   #48
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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Yep. b.
I agree and I have hydraulic steering. And as you listed hydraulics is the least best choice if the others choices are possible.
- - Problem is that hydraulic steering is so easy to install and design for. A wheel connected to a pump connected to hose/pipe with a reservoir and then a hydraulic ram. That's it, no sheaves, cables, springs/tensioners, routing problems for all those moving parts of the other systems.
- - And the worst of all considerations is the lack of any feedback from the actual rudder when hydraulics are used. Also the total lack of knowing where the rudder is (except when it is up against the stops). And the rudder stops - A hydraulic ram simply moves that rudder until it runs out of piston or it hits something that can withstand the full hydraulic force imparted upon that part - the rudder stop. You can bend/bust/burst/break things if the relationship between the ram and rudder quadrant/tiller is not correct.
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:52   #49
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With hydraulic steering you are not able to feel the rudder pushing back when you are not turning the wheel. Sometimes this is an important feel to have for a sailboat. It's an indication of how much weather helm you have. I'm talking about a human powered hydraulic system.

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Old 05-09-2010, 09:47   #50
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- tiller best,
- direct drive (rod+cogwheel) second, and best of wheel systems,
- chain next,
- wires follow,
- hydraulics last.

I prefer forward mounted rack and pinion without the linkages required by pedestal systems. The wheel shaft leads aft under the helmsman's seat and engages the pinion quadrant directly. It gives quite good feedback from the rudder. If necessary, the helmsman's seat can be lifted off and a tiller can be fitted to the rudder shaft.
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Old 05-09-2010, 16:00   #51
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just visited my boat this weekend and love the looks of the wheel, but it simply dont make sens space wise, the mecanism and wires runs true 3 diffenrent compartments that would normaly be sealed from each other.
one in particular is the engin well in the lazarette, this is odd as this compartment has it own bildge pump, but now water can flood the entier back of the boat.
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Old 05-09-2010, 17:32   #52
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Thanks for that information Osirissail. I was down under the lazarette hatch a couple of times to see what the problem was but couldn't get hands on to the mechanism. I did discover that the cylindar was installed upside down, IE inlets on the bottom so any air in the system would end up in the cylindar. I got a midget friend to climb in and flip it around that so any air bubbles were taken care of. The wheel is tight on the shaft to the pump, so if there is slop it's internal. I'll have to crawl in from the cabin to see if I can get to the rudder quadrant and check the slop there. Ah well, at least I like working on my boat(s).

As for the rudder quadrant being welded, Yeh, its seriously welded on. The bottom end of the rudder post is in a socket that was welded to the bottom of the skeg so even if I could get the quadrant off, the rudder is still stuck til I can remake the bottom socket and holder. As far as I can tell there are no bypass valves, not even a thought given to emergency steering. As you can see in the photo, the rudder post is directly under that seat. So a hole in the seat with an extension tube and till would have been a cinch to make up, but it never was even contemplated.

Its starting to get cooler now, So I'll be able to get in and have a look more closely in the next couple of weeks.

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Old 10-09-2010, 20:32   #53
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I would love to convert my boat to a tiller. It has an autopilot that connects directly to the rudder quadrant, so no need for a "tiller pilot".

Another advantage to a tiller is that you can sit further forward and be sheltered by the cabin & dodger (if you have one). With most wheel boats - like mine - you are seated all the way aft, very exposed.

I think the CSY 33 would do just find with a tiller.
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Old 10-09-2010, 20:40   #54
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YUP...this aboot sums it up, eh?

Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
The current love affair with wheel steering is a yuppie affectation. The owner gets to stand at the helm and act as lord and master of the vessel issuing commands from his exalted perch..
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Old 10-09-2010, 22:10   #55
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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
The current love affair with wheel steering is a yuppie affectation. The owner gets to stand at the helm and act as lord and master of the vessel issuing commands from his exalted perch..
Lots of ocean miles with both tiller and wheel. Honestly, as soon as I leave port I put the helm on autopilot so it doesn't matter which type with that; with people in the cockpit, the tiller keeps them huddled against the companionway out of its range and the wheel actually takes up less "space". In port, the tiller can fold up but I can also take a wheel off to open up a cockpit.
There is a "feel" with the wheel, it will communicate weather helm and especially too-much-weather-helm.
For maintenance and repair the tiller wins hands down. But a chain-cable-sheave or push-pull system is not impossible to fix while underway - the very few times in my experience that that has been necessary.
Also done about 10k miles with hydraulic steering and I too would put it at the bottom of the list. Some have a "feedback" setting - the wheel will move in response to rudder force - but the problem is it usually takes about 7 turns lock to lock which makes steering in an active seaway a fairly vigorous activity.


Note: I usually go double-handed and the other crew is down below sleeping while I am on watch so I rarely get the opportunity to issue commands from my perch to effect...
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:33   #56
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Very good thread

This is a very interesting thread. All but about 15 minutes of my 20 years of sailing have been on tiller steered boats (14' Laser and Catalina 22). I've always wanted a larger boat with wheel steering for the sole reason of more space in the cockpit. Like svcambria said above, it seems to me that even though the wheel takes a lot of space, at least the amount of space it takes is fixed. I get so tired of having to tell people to move their knees so I can steer the boat. Maybe on larger boats the percentage of cockpit in the tiller sweep area is smaller, but on the Catalina 22 almost half the seating area is in the way of the tiller.

On the other hand, I hated the 15 minutes I spent sailing a wheel steered boat. I was constantly zig zagging back and forth because I couldn't feel the rudder. It felt like a video game, I'd turn the wheel a bit then have to wait a second to see what the boat was going to do.
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Old 11-09-2010, 08:34   #57
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I doubt that 15 minutes was enough to get you used to steering and getting a feel for the helm. On the other hand, you have experienced one of the major reasons for having a wheel on a pleasure yacht--cockpit space. Once pleasure yachts began to be smaller, from the ship sized Vanderbilt yacht to smaller 50-ft and under boats, the cockpit became the social space while sailing instead of simply a position for the helmsman and captain. Tillers require a fair bit of space on larger, modern yachts which must be kept clear of obstructions and people./

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