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Old 20-06-2011, 20:19   #1
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Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

Hello All,
I finally plopped in the water last Friday after more than a year of tearing most of the deck and balsa core on my Sigma 41. Feeling pretty good..the rudder moved easily both from moving it directly by hand on the hard and through the wheel on the hard and once in the water. The pedastal steering is a Whitlock rod system from the 80's. Upon leaving the dock and powering the engine the wheel felt locked up and only with extra pressure did the helm respond. It felt and sounded like gears were not meshing. Once the boat got to speed the issue seemed to resolve itself. The helm had no issue until docking when I applied more power while turning to starboard coming into the slip. Exactly the same condition appeared again. Crap!! At rest the helm freely turns to port and starboard. I pulled the steering wheel and found nothing apparently wrong. The wheel lock seems fine. Down below there is nothing that is impinging on the rotation. I tied line tight to the linkage below to try to replicate the rudder resistance from prop wash or turning, but the helm seemed fine.

Any suggestions? I'm concerned the the knurl gear is failing? When do you make the decision to replace versus repair? It's frustrating knowing the first day of summer is just hours away...I want to sail!! Thanks very much. Rick
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Old 20-06-2011, 20:40   #2
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Service procedure...

If you can find a manual (internet search?) for your steering it should have a service procedure that you can follow.

It does sound like either the rudder is fouling something or the internal mechanism is jamming.

If you can crawl into steering space to inspect (bring a torch-UK/flashlight-US) while a helper gently turns the wheel you may be able to see the problem. Do keep fingers, noses and other valuable parts well clear as the force exerted can be enormous.

If time is short and money not so then riggers may be able to do this kind of work.

You really need to get it apart as far as possible the inspect every part before making a decision re replace or rebuild. The stainless machine bolts tend to seize into the aluminium casting making this a tricky job.
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Old 20-06-2011, 20:47   #3
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

I am not sure, but this may be the model you have:

http://www.eddievan.com/documents/wh...a_steering.pdf
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Old 20-06-2011, 21:18   #4
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

Thanks for the quick replies. I have good access under the steering pedastal. By pushing and pulling directly on the armature at the bottom junction of the vertical rod to the horizontal components I was easily able to move the rudder from one stop to the other. It seems as though the problems only shows itself is when there is some pressure on the rudder? I followed your link and was able to download file but the pdf looked like it was not happy with my computer as the data looked like computer jibberish.. I do appreciate the English flashlight as "torch", sounds like an alternative solution!! Thanks guys!
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Old 20-06-2011, 22:44   #5
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

It does seem odd that the helm and rudder work alright when not moving, has issues at low speeds, then seems alright once you are moving along at a clip. Have you checked rudder for play--perhaps it is binding up for some reason at low speed, but as speed increases steadies up. Doesn't seem to make sense, but I honestly cannot think of anything else, assuming the pedestal gearing and quadrant are in good shape.
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Old 21-06-2011, 09:45   #6
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

I was able to get to the external website, finally! It appears this is my unit! I'm fairly certain the issues lies where the horizontal spindle from the steering wheels fits into the pedestal and the gears aren't properly meshing. Question, when I pull the top of the binnacle and plate and find these gears partially stripped, where do I find replacements? Thanks very much for the helpful link!
Rick
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Old 21-06-2011, 12:08   #7
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

I am not sure where to get parts on an old system like the Cobra, but there are a few things you can try first. I would make sure the pedestal gearing, wheel shaft and vertical shaft from the quadrant are all well greased and oiled. Next, check out the ball joints in the linkage below decks where it runs to the rudder stock turning arm. The ball joints should all be greased or oiled and checked for excessive play. Finally, on some boats there is often one, or more, bearings that acts to support the linkage rod between the turning arm on the rudder stock and output lever at the lower end of the pedestal vertical shaft. This bearing is often hard to find and should be greased to allow freedom of movement. It is possible, that under some conditions, such as when the hull flexes, this bearing could cause the linkage rod (or draglink) to bind up. Check the condition of the ends and check the adjustment of the turnbuckle as well. Lastly check the meshing of the gear and quadrant. This can be adjusted by shims.

If I remember correctly Whitlock was bought by Lewmar some years back.
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Old 21-06-2011, 12:16   #8
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

The Whitlock Cobra is a very reliable system. I've got one that's 23 years old and so far no problems. I have heard of the bearings in the wheel shaft going.
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Old 21-06-2011, 14:50   #9
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

I will take a very good look at the components you discuss this weekend. It makes some sense. Possibly my gears aren't wrecked and a simple shimming might bring them into a happy mesh? That would be wonderful! Thanks very much for your detailed maintenance plan.
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Old 21-06-2011, 14:55   #10
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

Another thought: does the binding occur when sailing at the same speed, or only when motoring? If only when motoring it sounds like some sort of distortion (hull, motor mounts, shaft, who knows?) resulting from the thrust of the prop rather than from the speed of the boat.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 21-06-2011, 15:15   #11
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

I haven't sailed with her since she went back in the water. The feeling and sounds and "catching" all feel like they're above the deck. When I go below the deck I can freely move the rudder by grabbing the rods and pushing/pulling. The wheel turns freely as well. The binding feeling may be showing itself only when the two gears mesh at a certain location, like maybe at a certain alignment of the two gears together? Does that make sense? I assume when I open the binnacle of the pedestal I'll be able to see metal shavings/parts if there is some issue?
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Old 21-06-2011, 15:57   #12
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by projectgator View Post
I haven't sailed with her since she went back in the water. The feeling and sounds and "catching" all feel like they're above the deck. When I go below the deck I can freely move the rudder by grabbing the rods and pushing/pulling. The wheel turns freely as well. The binding feeling may be showing itself only when the two gears mesh at a certain location, like maybe at a certain alignment of the two gears together? Does that make sense? I assume when I open the binnacle of the pedestal I'll be able to see metal shavings/parts if there is some issue?
Grab the wheel at 6 and 12 o'clock and see if you can rock the shaft to test the bearings then go below and see if you can force the vertical shaft upwards to check for
end float. It sounds like there is enough play some where in the system to allow the pinion gear to climb the teeth on the sector gear causing it to jamb.
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Old 21-06-2011, 18:53   #13
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

I can't wait to get back to the back this Friday and try all of your offerings! Thanks very much. Assuming there isn't too much damage to the pinion and quadrant gears, and there is loose bearings, can this be rectified with cleaning, grease, shims and tightening? You guys are very helpful..thank you!
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Old 22-06-2011, 18:19   #14
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

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Originally Posted by projectgator View Post
I can't wait to get back to the back this Friday and try all of your offerings! Thanks very much. Assuming there isn't too much damage to the pinion and quadrant gears, and there is loose bearings, can this be rectified with cleaning, grease, shims and tightening? You guys are very helpful..thank you!
Providing the gears are not worn too badly every thing else should be fairly inexpensive to repair. If you can get the numbers off the bearings you may be able to source them from a local industrial supplier.
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Old 23-06-2011, 07:26   #15
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Re: Steering issue-how to proceed???? Help!!

Thanks for the help. So..are these bearings similar to a wheel bearing on a car or trailer? Would a GRAINGER have something like these? Life is getting better..I think? Thanks again!
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