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Old 22-03-2015, 17:56   #1
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From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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?
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Old 22-03-2015, 18:12   #2
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Nikolina View Post
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?
I'm dubious. Are you doing this as a hobby? Are you going to spec this and machine it yourself? If you do build it, what will you do next, wire up your own satnav?

I'm sort of having fun with you because I think this is unnecessary and impractical. But at the same time I admire projects like this that actually get accomplished. I have several that I'm working on myself!
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Old 22-03-2015, 18:28   #3
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Thanks Ryon, I don't think it's really that hard to do. I've done things harder like staying married for 28 years, rasing three kids, climb mountains, own a business oh did I tell you I have a Jack Russel, that's hard right there! I'm not much into electronics unless it has to do with welding so I don't think I'll be looking into a satnav, and getting out of bed is unnecessary and impractical, but we do that!
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Old 22-03-2015, 20:08   #4
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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I'm dubious. Are you doing this as a hobby? Are you going to spec this and machine it yourself? If you do build it, what will you do next, wire up your own satnav?

I'm sort of having fun with you because I think this is unnecessary and impractical. But at the same time I admire projects like this that actually get accomplished. I have several that I'm working on myself!

Interesting!
I am as well curious.
There are many differing ways to do things.
That being said, you, will be designing this system. As a practical design ,or a wish list?
You may have to machine everything yourself, as I doubt this will be available to you as a source for purchase.
Some components, yes. You may be able to purchase.
Like to see your designs. My advise.
Invent the better solution to what you need to do.



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Old 22-03-2015, 21:31   #5
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Way way too much work to do what you want to do. Will have to locate the necessary bits and pieces and then machine them to fit and do what you want. Sounds like almost everything including the pedestal would have to be custom. Better buy stock in a machine shop before starting so you can benefit from the amount of money you are going to spend.

Have a complete wheel assembly available cheap. Pedestal, quadrant, sheaves, wheel. Let me know if you come to your senses and want to waste less money. Tore out the wheel and went with a tiller. Hate those damn wheels.
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Old 22-03-2015, 21:58   #6
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Thanks Guys, I do understand that west marine is not going to be of any help! (they're good for boat fenders and soap) Remember some of us grew up on a farm or in construction or both. The reason I'm thinking of going this route is because it will put the wheel and pedestal all the way to the back of the cockpit leaving the majority of it open. The question still remaining is the force on the wheel. With a tiller you have leverage and with most wheels you have the pulleys and a quadrant. With this you only have the diameter of the wheel, 24". Just wondering if that will be enough to handle the boat when the wind pipes up?
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Old 22-03-2015, 23:25   #7
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From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

It's definitely not that impossible.
My last vessel, at 28 ft, had Edson Pedestal steering, that was close to the mid cockpit point and I wanted to open the cockpit up as you mentioned.
I turned it around and mounted it in the Lazerett, effectively making an aft steering sloop, it worked great, it had the pulleys and wires all under deck, and was accessible.
Opened the cockpit up very nicely.
My current Vessel is a Mariner Ketch with a traditional aft steering station, I love this design, it only uses a gear rack on the rudder post and a beveled pinion gear on the wheel which is only 18" in diameter.
There are worm and trunnion types of steering gears as well, so if you want an aft steer vessel, you can look at these designs.
There may be ways of using the steering shafts and joints of automobile columns to achieve your requirements.
I believe the trick will be the driving gear to rudder gear ratio for the amount of force you'll need to steer the boat.
As the Rudder is in the straight on position, or off to one side a bit or the other most of the time, this shouldn't be to hard to achieve.


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Old 23-03-2015, 09:15   #8
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Nikolina View Post
Thanks Guys, I do understand that west marine is not going to be of any help! (they're good for boat fenders and soap) Remember some of us grew up on a farm or in construction or both. The reason I'm thinking of going this route is because it will put the wheel and pedestal all the way to the back of the cockpit leaving the majority of it open. The question still remaining is the force on the wheel. With a tiller you have leverage and with most wheels you have the pulleys and a quadrant. With this you only have the diameter of the wheel, 24". Just wondering if that will be enough to handle the boat when the wind pipes up?
Regards force on wheel, several factors there. Size of vessel, Rudder design (balanced or not etc.) and the required IMO some gear advantage operators either gear and quadrant or chain and sprockets or pulleys and shivs. Following seas generate a lot of pressure and falling off a wave or getting broached is just hard on steering gear. Having spent several hours on an emergency tiller after a steering gear failure in moderate seas, I can tell you it is not fun and if you gear is not tested and though out you could be in a pickle quick. 4 to 1 reduction a must on a small wheel. How long is your tiller, think of the lever advantage as a guide. 4ft tiller (4 to 1). JMT
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Old 23-03-2015, 09:32   #9
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

I know this is not what this thread is about, but as someone who owned a boat that size with a wheel, I can tell you from experience that a tiller is a million times better. More room in the cockpit, easier and more intuitive control of the boat and, most importantly, far fewer ways for it to fail. Wheels fail all the time, almost always due to incompetent installation or lack of maintenance or both. So if you MUST put a wheel in, do it right, buy an Edson (Have one I'll sell you, not that you really want it) and have the install done with the help of someone who knows what they're doing.
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Old 23-03-2015, 09:54   #10
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Many traditional boats are made with the helmsman standing before the wheel. Our Pilgrim and Spirit of Dana Point both have this configuration (Google 'Ocean Institute'). But then many others have a tiller! (see 'Lady Washington').

I think the tiller should give you the most cockpit room and be the most convenient, but I'm the last guy to stand in the way of innovation, on your boat. Torque multiplication will depend on whatever wheel to shaft ratio you choose. This will be just one of the many choices you will have to make in your design.
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Old 23-03-2015, 10:53   #11
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Nikolina View Post
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?
A worm would work best for your circumstance and preference.
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Old 23-03-2015, 11:28   #12
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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A worm would work best for your circumstance and preference.
I beg to differ.

A rack-and-pinion quadrant system would be the way to go. Rack and pinion preserves the "feel" of the steering while still providing the mechanical advantage of a long tiller. A worm gear -- while powerful -- provides absolutely no feel.

I just completed a similar conversion on my small cruising catboat and love it. I thoroughly researched the options before committing myself (I'm an engineer and a sailor for over 40 years with extensive experience in DIY boat modifications).

Edson has all the components you need in their "Traditional Steering Systems" catalog... not cheap though. They have complete rack and pinion systems, rudder post extensions, universal joints, etc., as well as conversion advice for particular boat models. You can expect to pay a couple of thousand bucks for the components to do what you want to do, but the engineering they offer is proven.

Here's a picture of a quadrant of theirs that might work for you. They also make a version for heavily raked rudder posts.

Consider this: a geared quadrant is really just a portion of a big bevel gear that provides a lot of mechanical advantage. As your rudder can turn only perhaps 70 degrees anyway, you only need a segment of that big gear.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf edsonquadrant.pdf (149.4 KB, 65 views)
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Old 23-03-2015, 12:39   #13
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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...some of us grew up on a farm or in construction or both...
You say that as if it is supposed to make us believe you can now do anything for which you have not had specific training, like designing and building a complex (but safe) yacht steering system.

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.
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Old 23-03-2015, 12:47   #14
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

Calculate the length of your tiller to determine your present power ratio. make sure you have that much ratio in your gearing. I see no issue if you really want to do it. Plenty of gear sets around ? or How about an old non power car steering gear?
personally I'd stick with tiller on that boat, but as you said... not your question!
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Old 23-03-2015, 13:44   #15
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Re: From tiller to wheel, the mechanics

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
You say that as if it is supposed to make us believe you can now do anything for which you have not had specific training, like designing and building a complex (but safe) yacht steering system.

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.
Disagree. Nothin' to it. Just don't get fancy with gears.
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