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arf145 05-27-2013 07:56 PM

Steering Problem
Our new-to-us Beneteau 331 has Whitlock Constellation steering with the lock on the hub. Steering was easy during our initial 20 mile trip to our marina. But yesterday when we went out sailing for the first time, the steering felt like the brake was on, even when it was all the way off. I also noticed that tightening the brake hub had no effect--couldn't lock the steering-- and the resistance remained the same.

So, I've opened up the pedestal expecting to see some kind of jammed up brake, but can't even locate the braking mechanism! Does anyone know how this thing works? All I see are bearings at the front and back of the pedestal, shaft going through, and a sprocket for the chain in the middle.

BTW, I have the pathetic "manual" that Whitlock put out with their comical break out diagram with letters and numbers but no part names. A cruel joke, that.

CalebD 05-27-2013 09:52 PM

Re: Steering Problem
Call Bendytoe. Hopefully they don't refer you to call Whitlock.

Alex W 05-27-2013 10:38 PM

Re: Steering Problem
Is there a rebuild kit? My Edson wheel got a lot smoother when I took apart the primary bearing (the one that the wheel attaches to) and cleaned and lubed it. Previously it felt like the brake was always on, now it provides quite good feedback and is a lot smoother.

Edson doesn't make lubing the bearing very easy. Next time I take it apart I might add some grease fittings to allow lubing without disassembly.

arf145 05-27-2013 11:12 PM

Yes there is..I've ordered it. but I'd like to understand how the brake works on this.

billyruffn 05-28-2013 10:16 PM

Re: Steering Problem
Tom, I replied to your PM, but on reading your post above I think that you haven't gotten the mechanism completely broken apart. You should be able to get the horizontal shaft out of the pedestal and there should be a bearing on either side of the break.

From your descripton above it may be that the break is stuck in a "closed" position...

If I remember correctly, there are some set screws that hold bits and pieces in place that will prevent you from removing the horizontal shaft from the pedestal. I think they are located just aft of the sprocket...

good luck.


arf145 05-29-2013 12:41 AM

Re: Steering Problem
Thanks Billy. Indeed, I haven't taken it all apart yet. I've removed the brake knob, the wheel nut and wheel, then took out the four screws on the front plate that I assume holds in the front bearing. The plate was sealed with an excellent white adhesive that I hope is not 5200, so I haven't removed it yet. Is the braking mechanism behind that front plate?

Also, I'm wondering if we may have slightly different versions of the Constellation steering? In that wonderful Whitlock manual, the squared off pedestal shown in unnamed figure 1.2 is closer to the general look of mine. My drive sprocket is in the middle of the shaft on a keyed area. Yet 1.2 doesn't show the key for the sprocket but a pin.

BTW, I've called Lewmar and sent them a description. They may end up providing some useful info, but I'm all for any first hand accounts I can get!

billyruffn 05-29-2013 09:38 PM

Re: Steering Problem
1 Attachment(s)
Tom, I replied to your PM but couldn't upload a drawing file while in the PM mode. I'll upload it here.

arf145 05-30-2013 11:57 PM

Re: Steering Problem
After looking at billyrufn's diagram, I realized that he has an older version of the Whitlock steering than I do, with a brake perpendicular to the steering shaft--like was I was used to on my old Edson steering. The brake "spinner" on my steering screws right into the end of the steering shaft. Which is what makes the mechanism a mystery to me.

Meanwhile, Lewmar in the US doesn't seem to know this product and has forwarded the inquiry to the UK. I'd love to hear from anyone who has any info on this system!

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