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Old 17-12-2009, 05:50   #1
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Steering-Cable Pulleys

Greetings;
I'm a new member and a new sailor so please forgive me if this has already been covered.
On a recent passage we had a steering cable snap; during the running repair discussion led to the pros and cons of plastic sleeved pulleys versus all stainless pulleys. I plan on replacing the pulleys can anyone tell me the best method and even if the stainless pulleys are (easily) available. I'm down in Panama but can get stuff delivered here easily.
Cheers.
Ecosse
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Old 17-12-2009, 06:15   #2
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Ecosse.

Are your sheaves/idler damaged or worn?

Needle bearings (S/S) have the highest load capacity, of all rolling-element bearings, for a given radial space.

Edson has a wealth of information (even if your steering system isn't Edson) on steering systems, including maintenance & installation guides.
Edson Marine

For Technical Support, goto
Edson Tech Support & Manuals
or
Email: info@edsonintl.com
Phone: (508) 995-9711
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Old 17-12-2009, 07:41   #3
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Further to Gord's post, most of these sheaves are bronze running on stainless shafts- the sheave itself providing the bearing surface. The ones that are fitted with Zerk's are easiest to service. The folks at Edson will set you up.
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Old 17-12-2009, 09:53   #4
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Just replaced my steering cables before they did exactly what yours did. good to see that you made it to port ok. My pulleys are solid bronze. I would at least go with a good quality steel.
My personal opinion is that steering in a boat is a lot like brakes in cars. You don't want to skimp on it and you should have a good backup on board.
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Old 17-12-2009, 15:51   #5
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Great info, thanks.

Thanks Guys, I appreciate the responses and I'll do my homework. We made it back by being able to manipulate the steering arm (forgive the lack of sailing terms, remember I'm a virgin) anyway, from the port side aft cabin we could just make out the GPS heading up in the wheelhouse. It took all night in the storm - why doesn't this sort of thing happen during a pleasant sunny day? - two of us taking it turns until the eyes gave out. Fun stuff and good to feel alive again. Sure as hell beats "mall walking" eh?
I'm off to continue my education on the various forums.
Cheers.
Ecosse.
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Old 17-12-2009, 16:52   #6
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You may want to make sure that you have a emergency tiller Ecosse, preferably one that you can steer up by your GPS. If that is not doable then just have a backup handheld GPS with a shorter tiller.
We like adventure- we just don't seek to be disadvantaged by it. Or in other words- Preparation makes the best adventures.
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Old 18-12-2009, 06:41   #7
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I would like to than all of you guys for the input, advice and suggestions. Cheers, it helps a lot.
One additional point; the steering cable runs through a series of guides which have the white plastic runners. I remember many years ago that some campers had a system of similar guides/pulleys to raise various parts. I had a friend who always had trouble when the plastic runners wore a little they "grabbed" and eventually snapped the cable. He replaced them with all stainless which he said did "stretch" the cable somewhat but never caused it to snag and break. Would it make sense to can the plastic type currently on the boat and install stainless while I'm doing the rest of the work?
Once again thanks to all.
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Old 18-12-2009, 08:28   #8
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Ecosse:

I doubt you want plastic sheaves or idlers. I'm not sure what you mean by 'runners' (conduit?) but it sounds like these are in places where the cables might otherwise touch & chafe on something else...and that's a no-no. Replacing a plastic chafing surface (especially one you can't see, if we're talking about the cable *inside* of something like a conduit) with a metal one only makes things worse.

Congrats on making it in, given the circumstances you faced. That definitely deserves a 'well done'. Now is the time to look at ALL the parts of your steering system (to include visibly inspecting the chain, the pulpit gear & bearings and all of the bearings (which are likely solid pins) and bushings. Look & feel for 'play'. Could the chafe have come from the cable being too loose? And if so, were the bull dog clips slipping or was there some other cause for incremental increase in play? Note where the chafe on the cable caused the break and determine what needs to be changed. And if you have to live with an inside steering station, then think about how to make it a more functional helming location - e.g. how does the GPS get its antenna topside, what kind of back support can be provided to the helmsman and so forth.

The Edson guys are great. I found what was most helpful to me was to snap some pics of the places where I had Q's, then email them to the guys, and then call and ask them to open the files while they were on the phone. (They are very keen on this approach). This meant we were both looking at the same pics at the same time and made comms quicker and clearer - and less tedious. Finally, be sure to have them stock check everything you & they end up agreeing you need; my one frustration with my most recent steering work (a total pedestal replacement) was that I forgot to have them confirm that what 'we always have in stock' actually was there.

Good luck and, again, congrats. Are you now settled into Shelter Bay?

Jack
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Old 18-12-2009, 09:25   #9
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I cannot answer your question on the sheaves, however you should know that a chain/cable that is five years old needs to be replaced. Both Edson and Solimar make that claim. I snapped a chain (probably 10yrs old) in a very nasty sea state and learned the hard way. The chain was rewelded, and broke again in a different place the next night. The chain may look good, but you cannot tell what is going on under the surface or near the pins.

Buy a new chain
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Old 18-12-2009, 09:33   #10
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I am using 1/4" Amsteel Blue, a synthetic line, for my steering cables. It's strong, high resistance to wear, and LIGHT! I have been using turnbuckles to keep tension, but will be converting to synthetic light line to allow easier tensioning. My system is an Edson pedestal with the large sheaves and needle bearings. When I take off cruising, I'll be taking along a couple hundred feet of synthetic line to replace the standing rigging, steering cables and whatever. The actual material will be decided at that point, as new products seem to be regularly appearing. See the thread on Synthetic Searunners for details on this interesting trend.
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