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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 12-20-2007
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Tiller to Wheel

I'd love to swap out my tiller for a wheel. I there anyone on that has done this? Any Tip?

Mc
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Old 12-20-2007
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On what boat do you want to do this ?
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I've done it, despite all the nay-saying you will hear, I am very happy with the result.

I sort of "invented" a system that allowed me to get the cables around an engine well, around the back ends of two lockers and other fun stuff...So open cables and sheaves was out of the question.
I ended up mating an older style edson pedestal with push-pull cables (either one of which can keep steering the boat in case there is a failure) and a lot of head scratching and building of the standard little do-dads of hardware and brackets.


Sasha
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Old 12-20-2007
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It would help if you said what boat you were thinking of doing this on. Someone may have some experience with the boat and doing a wheel conversion on it. Some boats are well known for having issues with wheel conversions, due to the design of the rudder, location of the rudder or space available in the boat's cockpit.

Personally, I wouldn't do it for two reasons. First, a wheel steering system tends to be more complex and requires more maintenance. Second, a wheel often takes up a lot more space in the cockpit, especially when anchored out or at the dock, since a tiller can be tilted up and out of the way. I also prefer the better feedback I get from a tiller compared to a wheel.
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I guess I should have mentioned that. I have a 1971 Cal25
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Old 12-20-2007
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You'll hear from both camps, that's for sure, there are pros and cons of course. But it mostly depends on the boat you have in mind.

On smallish boats (<25/26 feet) the added weight in the stern is usually detrimental. The space a wheel occupies can also be problematic for that sized boat.

There is also, in that case, a temptation to go for a small diameter wheel, which impacts your seating position and visibility/sight lines ahead while steering.

On larger boats it can work quite well. While I'm happy with either I do prefer a wheel for cruising. I think it gives you more options for seating/steering positions over a longer haul.

Check out Edson's link and lever system. Our boat was retrofitted with this (from a standard chain/cable/quadrant arrangement) and it's a very robust, simple affair that gets rid of much of the concern with cable wear, alignment etc that goes with that system. The only downside I can see is a slightly reduced rudder range - but many people oversteer anyway, and it really hasn't been a problem.

EDIT: just caught your post on the boat... on the small side....
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Old 12-20-2007
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Funny I had the same reaction when I was getting my boat (wanted wheel over tiller) but the boat I was looking at had tiller. I considered that a negative )Its a 32 ft Jeanneau Attalia and the model did come with either.

The three years we sailed her I'm very happy with the tiller for the reasons (mentioned above): "feel" in the tiller and space when anchored/docked.

Our first season the wheel conversion was at the top of my wishlist. today its not even on the list.

I have not sailed the wheel equivalent so I can only speak to half the issue....
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Okay, some simple pros that I like about the wheel.

While the claim is always made that a tiller gives you more cockpit space when at anchor, a tiller also eats most of the cockpit in a smaller boat when under way. I built the swan-necked raised tiller that did not collect everyone's kneecaps as it did it's thing...and it still basically needed the back two thirds of the cockpit to be people-free in order to have full swing.

Now the wheel is a fixed station. If you are not sitting directly on it, then you can stay there no matter what.

When the sailing ends and we want some space in the cockpit, I just pop the quick release on the wheel and store it in the aft locker. Takes almost exactly as long as swinging the tiller up and out of the way. I can also have the rudder "lashed" in any position witht he tension screw on the pedestal, without trying to tie up the tiller after it has been swung up.

So the REAL footprint of the pedestal is about 6 inches of cockpit deck...and in exchange for this space it gives you a mounting point for a cockpit table, a base for keeping all the nav displays and compass nice and close to the helmsman, and a place to mount the water/air rocket launcher thing we use to shoot water balloons at other boats in the yacht club's opening day race!

I think the setup I came up with gives me good "feel" for what the waves under the hull are doing and I find I am just less tired after four hours of hand steering a wheel then a tiller. I also find it easier to work the mainsheet and a wheel then a tiller, which shouldn't be the case...But is, at least for me.

Mostly though, it is the space while under way thing and the instruments brought closer aspect I especially like. The super simple cockpit table that lets you have a civillised breakfast is also pretty popular with my wife, though.

Sasha
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Edson will have data sheets depicting the installation if other boats like yours have undergone the conversion.

http://www.edsonmarine.com/support/w...sion/index.php

Faster's comment about the weight makes me realize that with a wheel, you not only add the weight of the wheel and it's associated mechanical components, you also move the helsman further aft than they would be with a tiller. Also consider what else you might need to change. On mine, I'd also need to change the mainsheet setup since it would be in the helmsman's way if steering from a wheel.
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Old 12-20-2007
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I sailed this boat with a tiller for about five years. What I did not like - there was no way to install a binnacle, and you could not steer from the lee side, which is where you want to be in a schooner a lot of the time. So, I extracted this Ross steering gear from an old International truck in a junkyard. It cost $15. That was forty years and many, many thousands of miles ago. This setup does provide "feel".





Autohelm 4000 was installed in a groove cut in a lathe. The Ross worm gear rotates 90 degrees in 6-3/4 revolutions of the wheel. This boat displaces 19,000 lb and the Autohelm works well even in moderately heavy weather.



Installation was very simple because the rudder post is nearly vertical. The steering gear is direct-coupled with a three-jaw coupling.
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Last edited by FishSticks; 12-20-2007 at 10:24 AM.
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