That tiller can easily be shortened considerably... Keep in mind, any tillerpilot that might be used on that boat, will likely attach to the tiller at a point only 18 inches forward of the rudder post...
that's a rather useful piece of information. i should think some sort of tiller lock or tiller pilot would be a needful thing to have.
as far as wheels go, i have an idea that i haven't seen anywhere, yet.
everyone uses a quadrant, or tries to find a way to take the bugs out of a very short tiller in place of a quadrant, with lines leading to blocks on the side and then back in to the pedestal and up to the wheel. but why?
why not use a pull/pull system? instead of a set up that, basically, puts the pull point in front of the rudder post, like a tiller does, why not mount a T, perpendicular to the direction of a normal tiller, to the top of the rudder post? a line could go directly from each side of the T to the blocks, at the base of the pedestal, then up to the wheel.
each line would have positive pull until the end of the T faced directly to the block pulling it. of course, you never need to turn the rudder that far. so, you have stops at certain points near the base of the rudder, to stop it from turning too far. the blocks at the base of the pedestal could be fairly close together. it would always have positive pull. it would be a 'closed' system, like the throttles on modern motorcycles. the pulling cable actine like the throttle cable while the other acted as the return cable.
any thoughts about that? reasons it might not work as i think it would? seems simple enough to me. but, maybe i am missing something. if no one can find a flaw in this design, i will use it if i decide to do a wheel.
a similar set up would be to use a 'sideways' short tiller, essentially just one side of said T, with a solid, adjustable, connector rod linking it to another arm at the bottom of a vertical shaft running through the pedestal. it would be, basically, a wheel version of the scandinavial push pull rudders that you see on faerings. te only drawback i see to this, compared to the above cable idea, is that you do need bevel or mitre gears at the top to meet up with the horizontal wheel shaft. the cable set up doesn't need that. but the completely solid nature of this set up would be more durable.
although, personally, i think the ease of manufacture and low cost of parts for the above cable system would outweight the benefits of a non-cable system. the costliest part of the cable system would be a used wheel from ebay. other than that, you would need a motorcycle drive sprocket, a smallish length of motorcycle chain, two blocks, and some steel to weld up the T fitting. the pedestal could be fabricated from heavy gauge PVC pipe. you'd also need a short bit of round stock, for the wheel shaft, and two bearings for it to ride on. probably cost less that $200 for everything plus a bottle of rum to drink while you sat back and looked on the finished product with a smile on your face.