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Old 05-09-2008, 13:48   #1
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Advice on monohull's sticky steering?

While delivering our 1983 Beneteau First 38 down the Washington coast, the steering stiffened up quite suddenly, bad enough where the rudder no longer wants to center itself. We thought at first the old autopilot was the culprit but ruled that out by detaching it.

I also can't find an obvious grease fitting to lube the bearing where the rudder post passes through the hull, so I'm unsure of next steps. The boat's steering is a very common setup: spade rudder, cable steering. Where should I look first? Should I take apart the binnacle and check out the sheaves and chain? Should I look harder for a grease fitting or take off the quadrant? I'd rather not haul the boat but I'd much rather do that than have, say, the rudder fall into the water since I don't know what I'm doing. Anyone mind pointing me in the right direction? Even some basics on how these steering systems are assembled would be helpful. Thanks!

cuba
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Old 05-09-2008, 14:24   #2
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I would check to see that nothing is binding the rudder underwater. Put on a wet suit and a mask and take a look.
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Old 05-09-2008, 14:41   #3
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I'd first check to ensure that nothing has fallen across the cable run to the rudder. Don't know your boat but this might be visible from the lazarette as it is on mine.
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Old 05-09-2008, 14:41   #4
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I had a cable jam in its conduit 2 years ago - unfortunately it happened on the other side of the Gulf Stream. Check underneath the boat. A small piece of line or other junk may be wrapped around the rudder post between the rudder and hull.
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Old 05-09-2008, 15:45   #5
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This may sound like a silly question but have you checked to ensure that your wheel lock is not partially engaged, or engaging as you turn the wheel? (I have seen this happen.)

Next, have you checked to see if you have anything hanging up on the rudder itself? A piece of debris, or a line from an old fish trap or net could be lodged between the underside of the hull and the top of the forward edge of the rudder (I've seen this as well).

Next, check to see if the follower nut on the packing gland for the rudder tube is intact and not over tightened. If the packing has given up and even a small amount of rust has developed, that can cause binding (although that's pretty unlikely).

If none of these are the matter, check your cables to see if you might have a couple of broken strands that are hanging up in one of the shieves before the quadrant. Simply looking down on the quadrant from the cockpit probably won't reveal that. You'll have to either stand on your head to see under the cockpit deck or reach under-gingerly-and run a rag along the cables forward of each sheive--there are four, while an assistant turns the wheel s-l-o-w-l-y. One of the shieves might also be hanging up or you might have gotten something jambed in the cable system forward, near the base of the binnacle, that's getting pulled up into the works there as the wheel is turned.

If none of the foregoing, try loosening the cables entirely, freeing them from the quadrant and connecting your emergency tiller to see if you can turn the rudder freely without any interference from the steering system. If so the failure's in the steering and not the rudder and if so, you'll need to remove the compass to get to the steering gear beneath for an inspection. You may have a damaged drive chain or a broken sprocket with a loose gear tooth sculling around in the works.

The good news is that repair parts are readily available from Beneteau USA. Call Ward Richardson at 843-629-5300.

Good Luck!

s/v HyLyte
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Old 05-09-2008, 16:32   #6
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If you've check all the suggestions above consider this one.

Some rudder bearing consist of a nylon bush. These can swell with age and create an interfer fit with the rudder stock. This problem may become more pronounced when it gets warm - either from a change in water temperature or when your running the engine.

The solution is to remove the rudder and replace the nylon bush. Alternatively you could ream it out.

I've heard on this happening a couple of times.

Leighton
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Old 13-01-2009, 19:24   #7
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Lubricant for cable steering pulleys?

Could anyone advise on the correct lubricant for cable steering pulley bearings?

My cable steering (secondhand Whitlock) is initially stiff, but frees up after the wheel has turned a few degrees.

I plan on pulling the bearings out: I have some marine grease, but I'm wondering if there is something better.
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Old 13-01-2009, 21:35   #8
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Could anyone advise on the correct lubricant for cable steering pulley bearings?

My cable steering (secondhand Whitlock) is initially stiff, but frees up after the wheel has turned a few degrees.

I plan on pulling the bearings out: I have some marine grease, but I'm wondering if there is something better.
Most idler pulleys in cable steering systems have bronze bushings, and the correct lubrication is NOT grease but 30 weight oil. Grease does not penetrate to the moving parts and just attracts dirt and grit making things worse.

If you are talking about the needle bearings on the wheel shaft, a good teflon grease is usually best.

A full and careful inspection of your system is in order if the stiffness is not completely resolved by lubrication.
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