Pros and cons of wheel steering conversion - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 06-23-2006
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Pros and cons of wheel steering conversion

I would like to know the pros and cons of coverting a Tartan 30 from tiller to wheel steering.
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Old 06-23-2006
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Don't do it. There are boats in which a wheel makes sense or where either a wheel or tiller makes sense. The Tartan 30 isn't one of those. The Tartan 30 is a lovely sailing boat (one of my favorites from that era) and an ideal boat for tiller steering. The tiller does not occupy that much real estate when in use, and the loads are moderately low when the sails are trimmed properly. You can reach anything in the cockpit when you use a tiller extention and the boat has comfortable positions to steer from with an extension. At anchor the tiller hinges completely out of the way leaving a great cockpit for lounging.

Conversely, the wheel takes up a lot of real estate transforming a really nice cockpit into something far less comfortable. The wheel pedistal is typically placed quite far forward on these boats for visibility reasons and so breaks up the cockpit both under sail and at anchor. And even so there really are not comfortable steering positions with good visibility with a wheel on these boats.

A couple years back, I talked a fellow through uninstalling a very expensive wheel steering system on a Tartan 30 that he had installed a few years earlier but which in his words, "Ruined the boat".

If you don't mind me asking, why do you would want to install a wheel in a Tartan 30? Perhaps there are better ways to meet your goals.

Jeff
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Old 06-24-2006
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I agree completely with Jeff, one of the many reasons we bought our Tartan 30 was because it had tiller steering. It's a simple reliable system and in my opinion, much more fun to sail than anything with a wheel. One of the other advantages of the T30 is the accessable storage space under the cockpit due to the center engine placement. I would assume you would lose a great deal of this space with wheel installation. To further go along with Jeff, I cannot imagine why anyone, after sailing this wonderful boat with tiller steering, would think it needed a wheel. please don't do it. Jim L
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Old 06-24-2006
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Having had both tiller and wheel steered boats I must say I really likethe wheel much better. Yes, there is all that feel for the boat stuff, but underway, the wheel is a lot more convenient.

That said , my vote is to stay with the tiller. A wheel instalation at this point will not be as reliable. From those who have made the switch, the word I hear is that it was not a good move .
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Old 06-24-2006
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Also, as a general rule, a wheel-steering system has more points of failure; a more expensive and more difficult to install/maintain autopilot system; and is more difficult to attach to a windvane.

It also will give you far less feedback on the balance of the boat.
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Old 06-25-2006
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Thanks for pushing me off the wheel steering fence, I'll probably spend the money and effort towards a different project on the boat.
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Old 06-25-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Desjardins
Thanks for pushing me off the wheel steering fence, I'll probably spend the money and effort towards a different project on the boat.
No one mentioned that the autopilot for a tiller is hundreds of dollars, while the autopilot for a wheel is thousands. No one mentioned that standing that far aft in the cockpit will alter the balance of even a 30 footer.

I love tiller so much on my 33 footer (I steer with my...ahm...thighs while handling lines solo), that I am going to actually use the tillerhead on our next boat, a 42 footer, so I can rig self-steering...mechanically a lot simpler and easier to access with tiller, line, shockcord, etc., than with a wheel. I will probably just have a shortish strut for this purpose, but it will back up hydraulic steering and will be run from a windvane on passage.

Finally, if you are at dock, you can push the tiller vertical and have nearly the whole cockpit for socializing.
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On my boat, I can actually swing the tiller back and out over the swim platform area... so the cockpit is completely clear of the tiller.
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