Pulling out the old steering

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October / November 2005 --

I've really been looking forward to this,
believe it or not.

Actually, I'm looking forward to having it done and feeling confident in the system.
I've avoided going out the Golden Gate Bridge except on nice days, and the steering system is one of the reasons.

Here are a few pics,
which are really just for me,
so I can remember how the compass
is put together.

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I'm going to put a new pedestal in. They're much easier to maintain now, and the one I have is shot.

But I'm going to keep the compass, so I may need these pics when it comes time to drop the new pedestal in.

To hold the rudder up once the bearing is out, I put a section of exhaust hose around the shaft and clamped it down tight.

Before I drop the bearing,
I'll jack the sole up about 1/4"
to make the deck level,
and reset the clamp.

Getting into
the meat of the job.

These are the old idler pulleys, and they look just fine. There's some corrosion on the plate, though, so we'll see how bad it is when it comes off.

Note the stains on the plywood spacing plate. It's getting punky on the corners, because the guard rail mounts leak like a sieve. The rail mounts are the holes with wires coming out.

People grab that guard rail all the time, and the leverage on the mounts is enormous. That's why it worked loose and leaked, destroying the core in the sole.

Here's a pic showing how important it is to have the radial steering wheel aligned with the idler wheels. Note also that there's only about 1/8" of clearance between the radial wheel and the fuel tank.
That'll be important to remember when I put in
the new tank!

The old steering cable is shot.

The main area of concern for the cable is the sharp turn that it makes on the wheel, going back to the adjustment bolts. To the left, you can see that one of the cables has broken strands inside the cable, so it's due to fail. The other cable has visible hooks.

Edson recommends replacing the cables every five years, and inspecting them annually.

I'm keeping the old set around so that I can size the replacement correctly.

For my boat, the chain has 5/8" links and is 2 feet long. Each cable is 69" from the eye to the end of the adjustment bolt. Since I'm raising the new pedestal an inch off the deck, I'll need to add an inch to each cable length (assuming the sprocket is the same height on the new pedestal.)

In this shot you can see the stop blocks
for the rudder.
There's a post on the radial wheel, with
a little red rubber cover, that hits the stop block on either side.
The block is fiberglassed to the underside of the sole. When I take off the radial wheel, I'll need to figure out a way to secure the rudder.

It took about forty iterations of torch and penetrating oil to get the bolt out.

The trick was to hit the aluminum and get it warm, so it would expand faster than the steel bolt, then squirt penetrating oil onto the threaded end and hit it a few times with a hammer. It would run in, then as the metal cooled it would force the oil further
and further into the bolt.

After doing it over and over,
the bolt finally came out.

The Pedestal bolts are aluminum, to avoid galvanic corrosion and "welding",but they were welded with corrosion anyway.

I stuck a vice grips on the bottom nut.

It was a lost cause, and my big $20 flathead screwdriver snapped.

I'll have to grind it down and make it into an even *bigger* screwdriver.

Then used my Handy Dremel Tool to make the slot on top really deep.

I ended up just drilling the bolts out.


A couple of long extensions makes working on the radial wheel a lot easier.

This is the adjustment nut for the cable, which has to come off to release the cable.

Note: This should have been done *first*, when there was tension on the cable. It was a lot harder once the cable was slack, since the adjustment bolt wanted to turn on it's own.

Now that there's a clear view of the top bearing, it's clear that it has to be moved out of the way. The deck has always leaked around the bearing, letting water run down onto the fuel tank. That's getting fixed as part of the concurrent cockpit sole project.

However, the brown stuff that's piled up on top of the radial wheel appears to be bits of rotted wood. That means that the core in the sole is actually rotted away, and the bearing needs to get out of the way to restore the sole to its original strength.


Things are always easier to take apart than to put back together.
At this point I'm getting a bit concerned. However, since it *has* to be done,
it *will* get done. There's no other option. (Well, I suppose I could tow it to the yard and tell them to
put it back together, and I could fly to Mexico for a couple of weeks and hide.)
I just keep repeating "There's nothing that can't be fixed, there's nothing that can't be fixed..."
The trick is going to be getting access to everything, to assemble it well, since space is so tight.

The big aluminum support beam that runs under the cabin sole had to come out to gain clear access to this one bolt.

It's frozen. I soaked it in penetrating oil, and tried an impact wrench. No luck.

Time for a torch.

If the bolt snaps it'll be cost me a month of weekends to fix,
plus the cost of a new wheel.

With no steering brake,
I installed the emergency tiller to lash the rudder down.

If the rudder swings back and forth with the tide and currents,
it'll damage itself and the hull.

Here, you can also see
the top bearing.
Because it's holding the rudder into the boat, I'm not going to drop it until I'm ready to recore that part of the cockpit sole.

That's going to wait, though.
The steering is coming out to make it easier to pull the leaking fuel tank, and it's now at the point where I can focus on that.

The rudder shaft is nice and clean
(once I got the grease off.)

It's difficult to see, but the shaft is milled at the top, and is smaller where it goes through the thrust bearing.

That bearing holds the rudder up in the boat.
I haven't removed the deck core directly under the bearing, but it's gone all around it, and the sole is starting to sag.