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Old 07-06-2016, 15:46   #1
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Steering VERY stiff

We have a custom 33' steel boat with a custom square pedestal, the casting says Yacht Specialties.

I've had problems with this unit once before. One year the steering was beyond stiff, but I was able to break it free and eventually worked it loose.

This time however it does not seem to be getting any better. We recently replaced the cables and it was stiffish, but it got significantly worse over the winter.

I'm thinking the bearings are simple brass bushings. I can see through a screw hole they are clearly NOT roller bearings.

I've got a mech coming over in the morning to help me with this. This old body won't bend to fit the access needed if we have to disconnect the wires.

Any sage advice?
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Old 07-06-2016, 15:53   #2
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

And another
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Old 07-06-2016, 16:14   #3
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

What about the two holes in the casting where the shaft is supported? Any chance it could be oiled there?

Is there excessive tension on the chain?
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Old 07-06-2016, 16:52   #4
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

The first thing is to determine where the 'stiffness" lies: is it in the rudder or in the pedestal? If in the pedestal, yes, you need to lubricate the bearings that support the wheel axle. There are also turning blocks at the base of the pedestal, and those sheaves need lubrication (but do not often add great stiffness... the wire just slides on them whilst wearing out the grooves). If it is in the rudder, well, much depends on what sort of rudder and what sort of bearings are involved. One failure mode is plastic sleeve bearings which over time absorb water and swell up, causing high friction with the rudder post.

So, a little investigative work is in order!

good luck, and let us know what you find.

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Old 07-06-2016, 17:24   #5
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

I would disconnect the moving elements and see then which one creates the drag.

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Old 07-06-2016, 17:53   #6
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

That's a simple mechanism. I have the same unit. Just so happens I was inspecting it a few days ago. Those are bronze bushings. I use lanolin grease to lube them and the chain. The likely binding points are The bearings, the brake, the cables and the rudder bearing. If you have an autopilot permanently connected to the steering system, check that it's neutral release system is working properly.

If the bearings are seized, you can detect this by looking at the chain which will have some slack. If the bearings are ok, the wheel will have some small backlash. If they're seized it will be stiff before any tension is applied to the drive chain.

What I would do is disconnect the cables from the quadrant which is easy as to do provided you can access them, and see which side is stiff.
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Old 07-06-2016, 19:24   #7
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

Being frustrated and at my wits end I did the only logical thing, went to a Mesican restaurant for a margarita (lime) and then got a tub of Cherry Garcia ice cream.

Returning to the boat the steering was initially stiff, but moving. I started working it, back and forth and back and forth and...., it slowly got tighter. I kept working it. Then I noticed the shat was getting HOT. I kept working it, it kept getting tighter. Previously I put 3 in 1 oil in the screw holes. It would dissapear from the aft hole but not the fore hole. Later I tried PB Blaster, ditto. It got real stiff and and the shaft got real hot on the forward end.

So clearly it is the forward bearing that is siezing up. Now, how do I improve it without yanking the whole shaft out?

It the pics you can't see the fore shaft extension that is getting so hot. It is in the shadow in the bottom. It is just an extension of the shaft with no supports once it penetrates the casting. It kinda looks like you could use the shaft to have two wheels. The aft end of the shaft, where the wheel attaches does not get hot. So I think the aft bearing, which accepts oil, is OK.

Any further ideas?

MAYBE (?) I could put a zerk fitting in the hole, if the threads match, and force some light grease or oil in?
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Old 07-06-2016, 19:43   #8
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

Get rid of that old plywood spacer.
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Old 07-06-2016, 20:16   #9
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

"We need more cow bell".

Not time for grease yet. Need to get the corrosion out first. Probably rust from the stainless shaft. It's filling the space in there. I wouldn't rotate more, especially when hot. It could be galling.

PB Blaster works wonders at dissolving rust. Give it time. Try spraying inside the pedestal on the shaft where it's exposed. I might wick in and help. Spray liberally then tap the shaft as the vibration helps it penetrate.

Repeat many times. If you rotate it, do it just a degree or two. Don't heat it up. Patience.
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Old 07-06-2016, 20:22   #10
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

Shaft is brass or bronze (yellowish) not stainless.

Does that make a difference?
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Old 07-06-2016, 23:36   #11
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

You're not gonna want to hear this, but avoid the stop gap measures and tear it down. Loosing steering in a tight passage will be embarrassing at the least, dangerous or expensive at worst.

Simple set up, and we have already determined it's not the rudder bushings (good news). Load up the thermos with margaritas, sit down and take her apart (gently). Polish up the shaft, and bushings with a little 400 grit sandpaper, lube with lanocoat or waterproof wheel bearing grease, (lanocoat is great stuff, but grease is better in this case) and re-assemble. Probably last you another 10 years. Zirk fittings are not a bad idea, but won't do any good till you break it down and clean up the smooge (technical jargon).

Only gonna get worse till you really fix it.
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Old 07-06-2016, 23:52   #12
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Shaft is brass or bronze (yellowish) not stainless.

Does that make a difference?
Hmm, don't know. But might just mean the contaminate is some other form of oxidation than rust. I wouldn't give up on PB just yet.

But as mentioned, disassembly might be needed.
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Old 08-06-2016, 10:58   #13
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

Update.
Steering box frame is out of the boat. They can't press the axel out with a hydraulic press. It appears there are phenolic bushings that swelled both sidles ing the axel and locking the elves into the housing.

I ran out to Grainger and got some loooong drills so they can try to drill out the bushing.

Getting expensive quick.
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Old 08-06-2016, 11:33   #14
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

I believe it might be an easy fix, hpeer... Had a similar problem on a towboat I ran many years ago.. Steering stiffness became worse over about 2 weeks. Rather than tear down the steering box, I first checked the rudder post and determined it was free then moved to the sheeves through which the steering cables ran. I found that over time the galvanize wire had worn down the valley in couple of the sheeves and was binding on them causing the steering to be very stiff. I replaced all the sheeves (total of 6), and the steering wire, problem solved and the steering was like a dream for at least 5 more years! Phil
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Old 08-06-2016, 17:51   #15
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Re: Steering VERY stiff

They drilled out a bit of the forward bearing which allowed the shaft to come out. It fell out of the art bearing.

Now I need to fabricate some replacement bearing sleeves. I found a local plastic machine shop, or so they say. Ill be there with the old bearings at 8am. In the meantime I ordered some UHMWPE and Acetel/Delrin rod from online metals, overnight. That way if the shop doesn't have the material I will provide it. Bearing OD 1.48". ID 1.13".

I'm trying to get outta here for our big trip. This is the only hold up. If not done Friday then I wait till Monday or Tuesday. Trying to avoid that.
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