Steering Jam up on my 2009-Beneteau 49 - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-25-2009
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Question Steering Jam up on my 2009-Beneteau 49

Hello Fellow Sailors:

While sailing in the Chesapeake yesterday I had a steering jam up which made both wheels extremely hard to turn. They felt like a truck without power steering. The wind was blowing at about 15 to 18 knots. I figured I had a steering cable malfunction so I rolled up both sails and motored in the last 6 miles. When I hit the dock the steering seemed fine. I checked all the cables and found them to be ok. Both wheels turned easily. I have a diver going down to check the rudder just to be safe.

Has anyone ever had a malfunction in the hydraulic cylinder that is actuated by the auto pilot? How tight should the cables be?

Thanks for the help.

Big Moe
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Old 05-25-2009
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My first thought was that you might have snagged some debris on the rudder -- but it sounds like you ruled that out.

The autopilot does sound like a potential suspect, but some more info would be helpful.

Was this the first time sailing in these kind of conditions? I.e., is this the most wind you've had the boat in under sail?

Was the steering okay after you dropped the sails, or did it remain stiff under motor power too? Were you using the autopilot when this occurred?

The cables should not be strung bar taught, but nor should they be sloppy/floppy. If they are too tight the steering might bind and too loose it can slip. I doubt too loose would be the problem. But if they were too tight, it's hard to see how they'd suddenly correct themselves.
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Old 05-26-2009
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I doubt on autopilot failure. These linear hydraulic are very reliable and once it engage, you'd brake your cables but not move a milimiter. JRP made good questions, I'd also check for loose parts (rudder tube, ball bearings, cable blocks, quadrant) in special any "luggage" that could move in your locker and possibly jamm your system.
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Old 05-26-2009
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Were you beam reaching with all sail up in 18 knots of wind?? This can put maximum load on the rudder bearings, causing the helm to get very heavy, especially if there is some misalignment in the bearings. Since its a new boat, if it happens again I would talk to Beneteau. I installed grease nipples in the upper and lower bearings, and when the helm loads up its a reminder to give the bearings another shot of grease.
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Old 05-26-2009
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Reach out to Dan Goldberg here. He has the same boat.

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Old 05-26-2009
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Thank you all for your help. I had a diver check the rudder and he said everything is ok! We have sailed under these conditions before without any problems. I will disassemble the steering columns and check the top bearings. I am also going to loosen the cables as I believe they are too tight. If this does not cure it I will check the hydraulic cylinder release valve.

I will keep you posted.

Thanks,

Big Moe
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Old 08-08-2009
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Similar issue with Bene 361?

Hi,

Your story sounds a bit familiar to me. I have a Bene 361 and have had my steering get real stiff, then seemingly heal itself by the time I reach port. This has happened a few times, so I've developed a theory. It has only happened when sailing on a beam to broad reach in high winds (18-25knots) for an extended time period (greater than 2hrs of hard steering in such conditions). My theory is that the cutlass bearings are heating up via frictional forces from the "more than normal loads". As the bearings heat up, they expand, further increasing the friction until the steering gets noticably stiff, or it feels like a truck (your analogy). My rudder also has a vibration mode which also shows up only in these conditions and exceeding 7 knots. The vibration mode could also be a contributor to the added friction, or the main source. It sure feels like that somthing is snagged on the rudder, but I have never found anything. Back to the theory... Because the event is heat related, there is a thermal time constant. Hence, the steering will not go back to normal instantly. However, once out of the heavy conditions, the stering eventually goes back to normal after maybe 15-30min (cool down). Again, this is my theory, but I have no good way to prove it. I plan to drop the rudder at the end of the season and inspect the bearings. I'm interested to hear an opinion on this. It sure seems like your boat could be experiencing something similar. Beneteau tends to use similar technology on all of its boats.

John
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Old 08-08-2009
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My take on this is that is that it's either the bearings or the rudder post distorting under load. I think the rudder posts are some sort of composite, carbon fiber? rather than stainless. I have had a similar problem on my 393 and it only happens when heeling in moderate to rough conditions.
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