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Old 23-03-2015, 13:59   #16
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

The only issue I see is raising the quadrant to standing height. Having the gearbox up high seems like you will wind up with a really bulky post. On the other hand the wheel will still be more of an obstical to moving around in the cockpit. A steering box from any '50-'60s era car or pickup (non power) should be close enough to the right ratio. Build the binnicle REALLY strong. It would be hard to beat the Edson quadrant wheel that Ukeluthier referenced.
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Old 23-03-2015, 16:20   #17
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Forgetaboutit. If for no other reason than that switching from a tiller to a wheel is one of the very worst things you can do to destroy a good boat's steering and handling.
This is nonsense.

For over 40 years I've owned boats of many sizes with both tillers and wheels and have been perfectly happy with one or the other depending on the cockpit layout and the boat's sailing characteristics.

Obviously, one can make a boat more difficult to sail well by an ill-informed choice of a steering system that does not provide proper feedback to the helmsman, but that does not constitute a blanket indictment of all wheel steering systems. Rack and pinion geared and cable systems can both be fine in this regard if well-designed and constructed. Worm gear and hydraulic systems much less so.

My decision to convert my catboat's steering to a wheel was driven by the characteristic weather helm of that sort of boat (often strong, but not unmanageable if the rig and centerboard are balanced properly) and the characteristically long tiller that was used to provide sufficient mechanical advantage. My particular catboat has a huge cockpit (9 feet long!) much of which was rendered difficult to use by the sweep of the long tiller, which could not be folded out of the way or easily modified to do so.

Since converting to rack-and-pinion wheel steering, I have even greater mechanical advantage, a more comfortable helm seating position, just as much steering feel as with the tiller, and a far more usable cockpit.

Such helm arrangements are very common on catboats -- even quite small ones -- because the typical broad beam often makes it difficult to brace one's feet on the opposite seat when the wind pipes up.
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Old 23-03-2015, 16:33   #18
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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The only issue I see is raising the quadrant to standing height. Having the gearbox up high seems like you will wind up with a really bulky post. On the other hand the wheel will still be more of an obstical to moving around in the cockpit. A steering box from any '50-'60s era car or pickup (non power) should be close enough to the right ratio. Build the binnicle REALLY strong. It would be hard to beat the Edson quadrant wheel that Ukeluthier referenced.
You don't need to raise the quadrant any higher than slightly below cockpit seat height.

Here is the sort of helmsman's seat/binnacle arrangement that is common with this sort of steering system. Obviously it is common to build some sort of seat/enclosure to contain the quadrant.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf seatbinnacle.pdf (96.9 KB, 52 views)
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Old 23-03-2015, 18:32   #19
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Bravo cheers to ingenuity and original design if you want a wheel go for it damn the tiller...
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Old 23-03-2015, 20:15   #20
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Ukeluthier View Post
You don't need to raise the quadrant any higher than slightly below cockpit seat height.

Here is the sort of helmsman's seat/binnacle arrangement that is common with this sort of steering system. Obviously it is common to build some sort of seat/enclosure to contain the quadrant.

I agree. If I were adding a wheel that is what I would try to do. I've sailed a boat that had the wheel mounted like that and it worked well for me. It sounded to me like the OP wanted to extend the rudder post and then put the gear box at the top. Using the Edson system or just putting the car or truck gearbox on the rudder post and running the shaft forward and up at an angle would eliminate a couple of U or CV joints as well.
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Old 24-03-2015, 15:22   #21
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

I'd look at the Edson CDi system. Period.
It won't, unless you do what I did, solve the problem of the pedestal being as close to the rudder, but it's the best way to go.
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Old 24-03-2015, 15:27   #22
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

I know you're determined to do it, but I have to wonder what is your rationale.
I have a wheel only because a tiller would need to be very large on my boat and would sweep the cockpit. Drawbacks too great I suppose to warrant switching to a tiller.

However, I think in all other respects, tiller steering is superior. Just my $0.02
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Old 24-03-2015, 18:53   #23
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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...tiller steering is superior...
This.
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Old 24-03-2015, 20:11   #24
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
This.
^^ Strictly opinion, and a rather narrow one at that.

It depends on the boat, its sailing characteristics, the cockpit layout, the length of tiller needed to get enough mechanical advantage, whether it can be folded out of the way, the type of wheel steering system, and the preferences of the helmsman or owner.

I suppose you'd have tiller steering on a center-cockpit boat, or at the inside steering station on a pilothouse sailboat or motorsailor, or on a catboat with a 10'-wide cockpit, or on a 150' schooner?

And if a tiller is so allegedly essential to accurate steering, why do almost no racing sailboats above 35' or so have one?

Both types of steering systems have their place, depending on the circumstance.

Fact.
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Old 24-03-2015, 20:27   #25
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Again thanks for all the replies, like I said I'm just thinking about it. I really wanted to stay away from the quadrant, pulley's set up. That's why I thought of going more direct. The rudder post comes through the cockpit floor at about 60 degrees so I question a quadrant and space. The cockpit floor is 6-7' long the rudder post comes up about the 5-6' mark. If I could connect to the rudder post direct, and mount the pedestal over the post, I would have a lot of cockpit space left over.

Yes there's something to be said about the simplicity of the tiller, but I cant find a comfortable position between myself the seat and the tiller! Especially on a long day. So that's why I'm thinking about the wheel. Plus I picked up an Edson pedestal (quadrant, pulleys, cables and wheel) for 50 bucks at the swap meet.

Also for all of you doubters and naysayers "Think outside of the box, it's okay!"
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Old 24-03-2015, 20:41   #26
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

A universal joint could handle the rudder post angle problem, but the challenge for setting things up the way you propose would be getting sufficient mechanical advantage with bevel gears.

The larger gear would likely have to be too large in diameter to be housed within a standard Edson cable-type pedestal. Some type of planetary gear arrangement is theoretically possible in a reasonable diameter, but that would require some pretty sophisticated engineering and machining.

The Edson CDi system that Splash Gordon suggested is close to what you're thinking of (it uses bevel gears), but it relies on a mechanical linkage to a bellcrank on the rudder post.
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Old 24-03-2015, 20:54   #27
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Ukeluthier View Post
...
I suppose you'd have tiller steering on a center-cockpit boat, or at the inside steering station on a pilothouse sailboat or motorsailor, or on a catboat with a 10'-wide cockpit, or on a 150' schooner?

And if a tiller is so allegedly essential to accurate steering, why do almost no racing sailboats above 35' or so have one?...
With a little imagination you could answer these questions, yourself. But I don't mind helping.

Over a certain size (sail)boat, wheel steering becomes a more practical way to deal with increasing helm forces. And some type/boats have unusually high helm forces under the right conditions. But for boats that can be easily sailed with a tiller, installing a wheel produces mostly negative results.

An ever so efficient tiller connects the helmsman to the boat and the sea in a very special way that becomes intuitive and deeply physical. Unlike a wheel, which disconnects the helmsman from the boat and the sea; some systems virtually completely removing any feel whatsoever from the helm.

The tiller keeps the helmsman constantly aware of the rudder's position, without the need for rudder angle indicators, etc. The tiller is by far the fastest way to steer hard over to hard over, as in an emergency. When not under way, the tiller can hinge out of the way or even be removed; not so with a pedestal, which is always there in the way of passing fore and aft.

In terms of reliability, maintenance and repair, the complexity and costly nature of wheel steering puts it an entire order of magnitude beyond the tiller.

The tiller places the helmsman under the dodger, if he wishes. While the wheel places him (and his instruments) all by himself, out in the weather.

With a tiller, it is normally very simple to run cross-sheets to effect self steering. Likewise it is dead simple to add a tiller pilot. Or to hand the helm over to someone.
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Old 24-03-2015, 21:06   #28
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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... I cant find a comfortable position between myself the seat and the tiller!...Think outside of the box...
Can't find a comfortable position? Try thinking inside the box, first. Try a hiking stick. Seat cushions. Or modify/replace the tiller. I can't see a pedestal and wheel helping with comfort.
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Old 24-03-2015, 22:06   #29
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

You originally made a blanket condemnation of wheel steering as compared to a tiller, and that is what I was responding to. I'm not advocating wheel steering under all circumstances, and I've made that clear. Horses for courses, as they say.

I'm happy to address your "helpful" statements point by point:

"Over a certain size (sail)boat, wheel steering becomes a more practical way to deal with increasing helm forces. And some type/boats have unusually high helm forces under the right conditions. But for boats that can be easily sailed with a tiller, installing a wheel produces mostly negative results."

Generally I agree, but if an individual owner identifies some problem with steering with a tiller on his boat (as the OP has: "I can't find a comfortable position between myself and the tiller."), then this qualifies as a reasonable situation where an alternative might be considered.

"An ever so efficient tiller connects the helmsman to the boat and the sea in a very special way that becomes intuitive and deeply physical. Unlike a wheel, which disconnects the helmsman from the boat and the sea; some systems virtually completely removing any feel whatsoever from the helm."

Yep, "some systems." Exactly the point I made. However, "other systems" such as rack and pinion quadrant steering introduce essentually no isolation. Well-designed cable systems introduce very little.

"The tiller keeps the helmsman constantly aware of the rudder's position, without the need for rudder angle indicators, etc. The tiller is by far the fastest way to steer hard over to hard over, as in an emergency. When not under way, the tiller can hinge out of the way or even be removed; not so with a pedestal, which is always there in the way of passing fore and aft."

At normal rudder positions while sailing, a typical directly connected wheel (not hydraulic) with a properly identified king spoke (the traditional Turk's head, for example) does the same thing without any need for rudder angle indicators or other such crutches.

As to "hard over to hard over" speed, that depends on the wheel's gear ratio vs. tiller length. Sure, a tiller is faster if you are dealing with a short tiller in a narrow, unoccupied cockpit. But, if your tiller is long, your cockpit is wide, and you have a bunch of guests aboard, a wheel with a reasonable gear ratio will get you over faster and without landing you in someone's lap.

Which is more in the way depends entirely on cockpit configuration. In my case, my new wheel located at the very back of a large cockpit with no pedestal and with a wide, comfortable helmsman's seating position behind and alongside it is far less in the way than the stock long, non-folding tiller that blocked 3' of one seat or the other even when lashed to one side.

"In terms of reliability, maintenance and repair, the complexity and costly nature of wheel steering puts it an entire order of magnitude beyond the tiller."

Again, it depends on the system. My bronze Edson rack and pinion steerer for my transom-hung rudder -- while moderately expensive to purchase -- was easy to install myself and is no less reliable and maintenance-free than a tiller, and almost as simple. Elaborate cable or hydraulic systems... not so much.

"The tiller places the helmsman under the dodger, if he wishes. While the wheel places him (and his instruments) all by himself, out in the weather."

Maybe on your boat. On my boat, the wheel ensconces me neatly under my bimini. The previous tiller had me sitting forward on the weather side where I got no protection whatsoever. Again, this is boat-specific.

"With a tiller, it is normally very simple to run cross-sheets to effect self steering. Likewise it is dead simple to add a tiller pilot. Or to hand the helm over to someone."

You got me on the first part... I don't have any jib sheets because I don't have a jib on my current boat. But, with my wheel, I can lock it with a quick twist of the wrist for a quick dash forward (which I almost never have to do because I don't have a jib). I still use my tiller pilot occasionally... I leave it attached to a short emergency tiller that simply slides into a socket that I built into my installation. It fits neatly behind and clears the wheel, and the steerer has so little friction that it works just as well as it did on the original tiller.

Why is it more difficult to hand a wheel over to someone than a tiller? If that someone is a lubber, he'll know better what to do with a wheel than with a tiller.

Please understand that I have no negative bias whatsoever toward tillers.

I do, however, have a distinct bias against over-generalizations and blanket condemnations.
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Old 24-03-2015, 23:40   #30
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Okay, I'm thinking about changing from tiller to wheel for a couple reasons. But that's not what this post is about it's about the way I would like to do it. Instead of cables, pulleys, quadrant etc.. I'm thinking of something more direct. This is on a 1963 Islander 32, the rudder post extends from the cockpit floor at about 60 degrees. I want to come off of that with a "U-Joint" type coupler or maybe more like a double (constant velocity) style. This would change the angle to more perpendicular to the cockpit floor. From there, a shaft up through a pedestal, where it would hit bevel gears and connect to the steering wheel. This application would be a direct connect from the wheel to the rudder with only the bevel gears making any possible type of reduction (or increase) of effort. Just want to know if this sounds reasonable and if I'll be able to turn the wheel in heavy weather. What do you think?
What about mechanical advantage.? Auto pilot may fall out sooner.?
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