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Old 01-09-2010, 23:25   #1
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Pros and Cons of Wheel vs Tiller

I want to ditch my wheel and revert to tiller for the folowing reasons, the wheel mecanism invades 3 compartments of my cockpit, the lasarette seates on both sides, if I take it out I cauld ceal these compartments and have a much more usable space for storage and maintenence
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:11   #2
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Whether wheel or tiller - it is normally the size of the boat that determines the choice. Larger boats than about 35 ft (10m) generally have the rudder mounted underneath the aft portion of the hull. Extending a vertical shaft up into an aft cockpit is sometimes not possible due to a cabin being directly underneath - or - engine machinery, etc. So in those cases a quadrant with cable or chain or hydraulics works out the best and simplest for the manufacturer.
- - If the boat has a transom hung rudder then a tiller is most appropriate. But again, due to loads needed to turn and hold the rudder underway you could end up with a rather long tiller arm which "sweeps" the cockpit too much when maneuvering the boat.
- - If course, center cockpit boat have no choice but to use "wheels." And given that a large percentage of new boaters have only had steering experience with the wheel in their car, learning to "tiller" steer would probably be too much for them. Although the original cars did come with tiller steering.
- - As to your Hinterhoeller 28 a check of the hull shape shows the boat originally with a tiller arm.
HR-28 (HINTERHOELLER) Sailboat details on sailboatdata.com
So converting back should be very easy if you can find the original coupling posts and cockpit deck holes that were removed when the boat was converted to wheel steering.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:29   #3
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I want to ditch my wheel and revert to tiller for the folowing reasons, the wheel mecanism invades 3 compartments of my cockpit, the lasarette seates on both sides, if I take it out I cauld ceal these compartments and have a much more usable space for storage and maintenence
I cruised a 37' Pacific Seacraft for 8 years with tiller steering. I really liked it because it opened up the cockpit for easy movement and seating. When we entertained, there was more seating room in the cockpit.

We were able to use a simple push-pull autopilot and it steered with the tiller folded aft so it didn't sweep the cockpit. Likewise, we had a Monitor self steering system which also steered the tiller in the folded back position. Since we used the autopilot or Monitor 95% of the time, the tiller was a great option... we had more room, simpler self-steering hook-ups, less complication and we enjoyed the direct feed-back of steering with a tiller. No cons as far as we were concerned.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:50   #4
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Some people have converted larger boats (including Valiants) to tiller steering. Don't forget the sheet to tiller steering options too...
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:51   #5
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it's all about mechanical advantage. if the tiller is long enough, it will steer any given boat, but the larger the boat, the more problematic a sufficiently sized tiller becomes. The first thing you want to investigate is how large your tiller can be without having to re-rig such things as the mainsheet traveler.

The other question that comes to bear in this discussion would be what form of auto-pilot and/or self steering you want to employ. While there are certainly autopilots for tiller systems, they tend to be less easy to switch to than wheel systems. Alternately, tiller pilots often consume less power than wheel pilots.

Many sailors, especially racers, feel that a tiller gives them greater feel of the boat's balance than a wheel system. In conditions where a wheel mumbles, "Weather helm," a tiller will scream "WEATHER HELM!!!" Tiller sailors, consequently, tend to reef earlier than wheel sailors, and that's a good thing.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:02   #6
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While there are certainly autopilots for tiller systems, they tend to be less easy to switch to than wheel systems. Alternately, tiller pilots often consume less power than wheel pilots.
At some point the tiller autopilot becomes worthless as boat size increases. They don't make them with enough power to handle rough chop when the below decks hydraulic units will do very well. Wind vanes are of course easy because they don't work unless you have a balanced set of sails and so the mechnaical effort is far less.

If you have an autopilot, it's nice for it to steer when you can't.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:26   #7
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I'm a big fan of tillers on boats under 35 feet. To me the advantages of a tiller are very substantial, with simplicity being at the top of the list. And if you are going to singlehand a lot, simplicity for your boat becomes even more important.

As others have mentioned, wheels on bigger boats have better mechanical advantage but on your boat, a wheel is frankly completely unnecessary.

As far as the autopilot, I think a tillerpilot would be fine in your situation, but some kind of windvane is also very important if your sailing is going to include long passages. I'd say try a tillerpilot and if it does not meet your needs, sell it and go with a below decks autopilot.

Really, the only advantage of wheels that I can see is that here in the USA, they help a lot on resale of the boat. If that's the case in your part of the world, when you remove the wheel, put it and all the parts in storage someplace for when you decide to sell the boat in the future.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:35   #8
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Some people have converted larger boats (including Valiants) to tiller steering. Don't forget the sheet to tiller steering options too...
the tiller shaft has never been mouved, all I need to do is bolt the tiller on the shaft and voila!!

discarding the wheel post and all its mecanism then closing the holes with epoxi is half a day job no more.

I really like the idea of sheet to tiller steering and will experiment this befor any other pilot, but a wind vane is on my christmas list for sure.

cheers
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Old 02-09-2010, 12:23   #9
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You certainly don't need wheel steering on your boat. Tiller steering gives you a lot more feedback and will help in sailing performance, i. e. you can feel weather helm much easier.
I'd opt for getting rid of it unless you want to do a lot of stand up motoring.
kind regards,
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Old 02-09-2010, 12:34   #10
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- - If course, center cockpit boat have no choice but to use "wheels."
There is always an excepttion. My centre cockpit boat works great with a tiller.
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Old 02-09-2010, 13:06   #11
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A tiller wins every time. Better "feel", no hopping around to behind the wheel when singlehanding and tending sheets at the same time. Less to go wrong and break. If the boat is not too large and the mechanical leverage is there, go for a tiller without a doubt.
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Old 02-09-2010, 13:29   #12
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There is always an excepttion. My centre cockpit boat works great with a tiller.
I would love to see a side view of your boat. Normally a "tiller" steered boat has a 1-to-1 or direct connection to the rudder shaft. The only mechanical advantage is a result of the length of the tiller handle.
- - A tiller connected to a cam and rod or cable system so as to be able to move the actual rudder which is located aft is possible but then you really have a sort of "wheel" steering system with the round wheel being replaced by a single lever.
- - The ancient wooden galleons or heavy boats had a "vertical" tiller (wheels had not been invented for boat steering.) The vertical lever went below and pivoted in a yoke attached to the rudder. The yoke was like a modern quadrant or tiller quadrant used in today's boats. Pushing/pulling the vertical tiller up on deck pushed the yoke to one side or the other causing the rudder to turn. Only in Hollywood's pirate movies do they have those big spoked wheels.
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Old 02-09-2010, 13:41   #13
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Loids of london requires a back-up aux.steering system on all of it's insured vessels unless the primary steering is with a directly attached tiller. The reasoning is that there is next to nothing that can go wrong with a tiller.
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Old 02-09-2010, 14:01   #14
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tillers aren't infallible

While racing in my dad's Columbia Defender in the San Francisco Bay (mid-1960s), the tiller broke off from the rudder shaft. The bronze fitting had failed. We got to home port in Oakland steering with a crescent wrench. Dad had a quarter-inch-thick, stainless-steel fitting made to replace the old.
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Old 02-09-2010, 16:19   #15
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I've got my first and last wheel steered boat. 1st, with a mechanical chain and wire system, you don't get much mechanical advantage unless you go with a rediculously large diameter wheel. If a boat has a weather helm, it's actually easier and less tiring to steer with a tiller. Maybe a hydraulic system would give you the power needed but then you add a whole 'nother set of things that can and will fail and the helm will have the 'feel' of a dead fish. The wheel is constantly in the way. If it's aft, it's not a major impediment for the crew. But then it puts the helmsman in the elements, far away from the dodger (read: cold, wet and windwhipped). If the wheel is forward it's a PITA to get around everytime you leave or enter the cabin. If you want to go with Pendulum Servo Steering, it's way easier and efficient to hook up to a tiller than a wheel. On my boat, a Monitor Vane just wouldn't steer the boat under 4 knots because of the wheel/vane interface problems. Boats with balanced rudders really have no need for a wheels supposed mechanical advantage until they get way big, 50' or larger.

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.


Last but not least, if you have a tiller you don't need to 'balance' the boat to get a self steering vane to work. For one thing, weather helm is an interaction of sails and hull with most of the force trying to turn the boat into the wind coming from the hull. I've found it near impossible to balance a boat, once you crack off, on most boats, anyway. If you want to keep a boat moving at a good clip, you've got to live with weather helm. My W32 had a vicious weather helm as speed increased. The Aries Vane was able to steer the boat no matter how over powered/unbalanced the sail plan. Handling weather helm with a pendulum-servo vane is more a matter of efficient (read tiller) connection of the vane to the boats rudder and the effectiveness of the boats rudder. It's not to say that a boat with a wheel can't use a self steering vane, just that not all boats with wheels will find that they'll work well.
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