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Old 13-08-2012, 23:03   #1
Jd1
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Tightening Steering Cable

I have some slack in my steering system in a Catalina 36. I am pretty sure it was tight before the yard dropped the rudder to get the remains of the old cutlass bearing out.
Anyway, I managed to squeeze into the rear quarter lazarette locker (no small feat at 250 lbs) and I confirmed that the steel cable running over the quadrant is sloppy. The cable goes from an eye bolt on the quadrant to the wheel steering system somehow and then comes back to another eye bolt on the quadrant.
I was more or less feeling my way through there and there appear to be no nuts on the eye bolts which would mean turning the bolts in order to tighten things. Unfortunately the bolts don't turn as they interfere with the quadrant.
The question is this - should I be looking elsewhere for an adjustment of cable tension or am I missing some way of adjusting the eye bolts on the quadrant ? Anybody ever adjust tension on the steering cable in a Catalina ?

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 13-08-2012, 23:18   #2
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Re: Tightening steering cable

Cables shouldn't be bar tight. They need a little flex to compensate for anomalies in the system. If there is noticable slop in the steering, then the cables may need to be tightened.

My Edson system has an eye bolt that is tightened via nuts threaded on to the eye bolt on the back of the quadrant. Only way any system could be set up. If the eyebolt was threaded into the quadrant, you'd be twisting the steering cable when you tightened or loosened the eye bolt. Time for some more boat Yoga to discover how the eye bolts are tightened.
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Old 13-08-2012, 23:38   #3
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Re: Tightening steering cable

The reason I checked on things was because of the noticeable slop in the steering. There is somewhere between 1/4 to 1/2" of slack in each direction of wheel turn. That distance is along the outside of the steering wheel.
I was hoping to avoid the boat yoga until I can sort out how to best tackle the issue. Sometimes there are other methods of tackling the problem. Methods that are much simpler (such as maybe an adjustable tension pulley someplace in the system).
Yes, if there is no better way, I will have to dive back in with a flashlight and maybe I can actually see what is going on rather than have to go by feel.
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Old 14-08-2012, 00:05   #4
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Re: Tightening steering cable

If it's the standard Edson system, there are no adjustments other than the eye bolts. The idler pulleys are bolted to supports and not movable without moving whatever they are bolted to. The basic system is cable that goes from the quadrant to idler pulleys, usually in line with the cockpit footwell sides, under the cockpit sole and thence to the pedestal with sheaves that turn the cable up to connect to the chain that goes around the sprocket attached to the wheel shaft. Nothing to adjust and the other components are usually a lot harder to get at than the quadrant.
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Old 14-08-2012, 04:43   #5
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

Thanks Peter, that sounds pretty definitive. Looks like I am in for another spelunking trip into the abyss, this time with plenty of light.
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Old 14-08-2012, 06:04   #6
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

The yard may have slackened the cable (would only have needed to loosen one side) in order to get the quadrant off of the rudder stalk.
Check for movement marks on the 2 nuts which lock the adjusters on the quadrant.
Both nuts should be locked together against the ear on the quadrant, not on either side of the quadrant ear .
The threaded adjuster should "float" in the ear, should not be female thread in the ear.
If the steering cables are layed wire, usually 7x7 or 7x 19, they rotate a bit as they move over the sheaves.

You might chack that the intermediate turning sheaves are greased and free to rotate, with no wear points created from jammed sheaves.

If you check for rudder centralisation (king spoke dead vertical when motoring ), do so at idle speed.
Prop torque can require you to apply a little helm if motoring fast.
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Old 14-08-2012, 06:48   #7
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

Needed to adjust the cables on our Ben. and it also requires a contortionist to get to the quadrant. Then, I discovered that there was not enough threads left on the eye bolts for the needed adjustment. That required loosening the the eye bolts and cable clamps to shorten the cables to get the needed threads on the eye bolts. Works great now, but the dried blood, from my knuckles, around the quadrant is a long term reminder all that was involved. Glad that is not an annual thing!!!!!!!! Good luck.
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Old 14-08-2012, 10:28   #8
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

While you are doing this is a great time to thoroughly check all of your steering linkage. Because it is difficult it may never have been done in the past. You don't want any surprises from your steering system at sea.
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Old 14-08-2012, 12:02   #9
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

One more point to check -- make sure that the sheaves are accurately aligned with the run of the cable. Should not be a problem if you have not changed anything, but if you have the cable rubbing against the sheave flanges anywhere, you will eventually have a serious problem.

While re-building Orion's gear, after re-locating the pedestal, I thought seriously about replacing the wire and chain with Dyneema Dux runninng over a hard rubber drum, three or four turns, as in the old days. Has anyone gone this way?

In the end we stuck with the original Edson gear, but we are planning to carry the Dyneema and drum as a replacement in case of failure of the original. We'll carry Edson replacement chain etc. as well.

I do read many reports of cable steering gear failure -- as I recall it is third after diesel engine and refrigeration -- so some fresh thinking and dvelopment may be in order.
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Old 14-08-2012, 13:35   #10
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

Thanks for all the input. I located the adjusting nuts on the other side of the quadrant (who would have thunk) and they are even reachable without climbing into the abyss Now I just got to bring the right tools to the boat (do you ever have all the right tools on hand ?)
I also found out that the travel limit stop attachment on the quadrant was only hand tight .....
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Old 14-08-2012, 14:11   #11
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

I think the yards put the lowest paid and least experienced people to do these boat yoga exercises. The PO had the boat hauled and repairs done to the rudder as a condition of purchase. I took delivery of the boat in Santa Cruz and sailed it to Alameda. Just before reaching the Golden Gate Bridge, the boat suddenly would barely turn to port. Nearly rammed one of the piers supporting the bridge when a wave picked up the stern and slewed us off course. Just barely had enough movement to port to proceed on to my slip in Alameda. Investigation found that they'd only bolted the clamp of the quadrant onto the rudder post. The set bolt had been left out and it was only friction holding the quadrant in place, OOPS!!!
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Old 14-08-2012, 16:33   #12
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
I think the yards put the lowest paid and least experienced people to do these boat yoga exercises. The PO had the boat hauled and repairs done to the rudder as a condition of purchase. I took delivery of the boat in Santa Cruz and sailed it to Alameda. Just before reaching the Golden Gate Bridge, the boat suddenly would barely turn to port. Nearly rammed one of the piers supporting the bridge when a wave picked up the stern and slewed us off course. Just barely had enough movement to port to proceed on to my slip in Alameda. Investigation found that they'd only bolted the clamp of the quadrant onto the rudder post. The set bolt had been left out and it was only friction holding the quadrant in place, OOPS!!!
Close Call You Did safety wire that lockscrew, didn't you
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Old 14-08-2012, 17:00   #13
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My old rant. Older quadrants have a real bad knuckle turning the cable tword the eye bolt. The bend is death to s.s. cable. The best solution are these nicely rounded cable wraps attached to the. Rudder post.
On my boat I found at purchase multiple diameters of cable. Added shackles poor condition of the bolts and pads holding the turning blocks. Various terminations if the cable. A bulkhead that was chafed by the cable.
I changed over to amsteel for the cable. Corrected the issues and love it. Spare cable is my first go around. I think I'm 7 years using amsteel. I check the tension often seems fine afrr it had gone through stretch and thermal expansion. Cable runs through engine room where in summer months it gets very warm.
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Old 14-08-2012, 17:29   #14
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Re: Tightening Steering Cable

JD1

When you go down next time, take a camera and snap a few pics. It will be invaluable for future references.


Quote:
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...I changed over to amsteel for the cable. Corrected the issues and love it. Spare cable is my first go around. I think I'm 7 years using amsteel..
Sabray

How did you connect the Amsteel to the eyebolts, did you splice in a thimble?
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Old 14-08-2012, 17:59   #15
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JD1

When you go down next time, take a camera and snap a few pics. It will be invaluable for future references.

Sabray

How did you connect the Amsteel to the eyebolts, did you splice in a thimble?
Yes I used prescribed thimbles for amsteel. Also on one lead from the pedestal chain I used thimbles that allow for tensioning. Very similar to a dux stay set up.
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