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Old 09-03-2000
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retrofit, tiller --> wheel

While you''re still just thinking about it, is the cockpit really big enough to fit the size wheel you''d need? (How big a wheel would be required to deliver the same amount of leverage that the tiller gives you now?) You may decide to keep the tiller if it would take a 6'' wheel. Even a smaller wheel will cut off some access to the back end of the cockpit. Will the crew still be able to work the winches? You may have to move/add compasses and instruments for the new helm position as well. I remember the Peterson 34 as being quick and pretty. With her racing heritage, she''s also likely to be adversely affected by the weight of the wheel and helmsman if you put them aft. Reinforcing the cockpit or other areas to take a wheel setup will also add weight and may be difficult. If I had a tiller on my boat (a J/36) I might simply tilt it up to the backstay and invite people over to party, instead of thinking about an expensive wheel that is full of finely machined metal parts that can (and do) break.
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