Does size matter?? Wheel size, that is... - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-16-2011
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Does size matter?? Wheel size, that is...

The wheel on my Hunter 34 is huge and really takes up a lot of space in the cockpit. I'd like to switch to a smaller wheel but am not sure if this is purely a personal preference type of thing or if there is some science to it. Is there a rule of thumb for wheel size? It seems logical that wheel forces will increase with a smaller diameter wheel but I wonder how much?

BTW; I've seen those folding wheels which are really a slick idea. Too bad the price is so high!

Thanks,

JD
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Old 09-16-2011
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Wheels are sized for the loads the yacht may have to endure under unfavorable conditions. Butler and his boys may produce inexpensive yachts (relatively speaking) but they aren't stupid. Try handling a yacht in rough weather with an undersized wheel and you'll understand. If you choose to reduce the wheel size anyway, carry a supply of canned Spinach--You may need "big" forearms.

FWIW...
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Old 09-16-2011
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Another reason for a larger diameter wheel is to provide the ability to be outboard enough to see the jib telltales and to see the waves, esp when beating. It's quite comfortable to sit straddling the wheel rim, as long as there are good foot braces, and steer from as far outboard as your reach allows...

As far as interference of the largish wheel goes, many people simply remove the wheel when in port or anchored to create more room to move around... don't forget to secure the wheel wherever you store it... they don't float! Edson makes large diameter knurled quick connect wheel nuts that make this a bit easier to do.. The folding wheels, though, are indeed slick - but pricey.
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Last edited by Faster; 09-16-2011 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 09-16-2011
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Very good point about steering from the sides. The removal idea is probably the right approach.

Thx!
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Instead of downsizing, why not look at the new "folding" wheels that allow four "corners" of the circle to be folded in, thereby cutting the amount of room it takes up in the cockpit to less than half.
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Through ignorance or accident I've pushed my boats to "spin out", prior to the moment you lose all control every inch of the wheel is appreciated, and might prevent a round-up.
When you must hand steer in rough weather for extended periods because the crew is sick every inch reduces how cramped your neck and shoulders will get.
I'd put a bigger wheel on a mechanical steered boat (maybe) but I wouldn't put a smaller one on.
BTW those knurled knobs are expensive, but my local yacht surplus store has them for cheap.
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Old 09-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emoney View Post
Instead of downsizing, why not look at the new "folding" wheels that allow four "corners" of the circle to be folded in, thereby cutting the amount of room it takes up in the cockpit to less than half.
As previously noted, they are very pricey! A bit of searching reveals that they have recieved very good reviews. Maybe Santa will deliver one to me....

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Old 09-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Undadar View Post
The removal idea is probably the right approach.Thx!
After thinking about this, I realized that the autopilot is the problem. It can be disconnected but is not a two minute affair. Maybe this works when staying put for a week or two at a time but not a great 'short stop' solution. I guess with that in mind, the folding option is the best and most expensive option. Why is the best option rarely the least expensive option??

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Old 09-17-2011
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Lightbulb The Good and the Not So Good

JD, sounds like you may be deciding to keep the wheel...
Our experiences, FWIW--
Our boat came from the factory with a 36" wheel and it's a good compromise for steering effort and still getting around it from either side. A few years ago I found a steal of a deal on a 44" wheel, and we tried it out for a season.

While it was lovely to be able to easily sit on the combing on either side for driving, it proved to be irritating to always step on and over the seat to get in and out of the T section of the rear of the cockpit.
I put the smaller dia. wheel back on. My shorter wife appreciated the standard wheel even more than did I.

Like everything else in sailing and life in general, you just have to find the best compromise you can live with.

We also have an AP and use it 90% of the time we are powering, BTW.

As others have mentioned, if I could budget for the folding wheel, I would probably get one... 44" again.

Regards,
L
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Old 09-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Edson makes large diameter knurled quick connect wheel nuts that make this a bit easier to do.
Don't waste your $$. If you carefully grease the threads on the standard wheel nut, it will always easily come off.

I know of many friends who have never tried to undo that nut, nor even tried to remove their wheels.

BIG wheel pullers are tres expensive...
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