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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Tiller conversion to wheel
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-02-2012 10:59 AM
Barquito
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

I would think that larger boats that have transom-hung rudders would have longer tillers. This would give you more mechanical advantage.

I'm in the same camp as the 'tiller people', however, there are obviously lots of boats out there with wheels, so, the other camp is well represented.
07-01-2012 08:04 AM
FishSticks
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

In defense of a wheel....

Made the conversion in my 33 ft schooner with a $35 Ross steering gear recycled from a truck. It is connected to the top of the rudder post with a simple 3-jaw coupling. This was done about 45 years ago and so far it seems to be working OK. The wheel allows for many different seating or standing options, the best of which is reclining against the lee side lifelines. I gained cockpit space and installed a binnacle in it's proper place.... previously the no man's land occupied by the tiller's sweep.

Ross worm gears are almost maintenance-free. Pack in some grease and that's all there is to it. The full range is about 45 degrees to either side with a total of 6-3/4 turns. The only maintenance required is occasional replacement of the elastomer in the coupling. My rudder post is vertical and the gear is mounted atop the after deck.
07-01-2012 03:09 AM
puddinlegs
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

IMHO, there's no reason on our little blue marble to have a wheel on a boat less than 35' and even larger if it's a lighter displacement boat. To the OP, please don't waste your time and money on the conversion. Take the cash and buy new sails, get the rig tuned, get a tiller pilot, etc.... Tiller pilots work fine. On our boat you need to balance the sail plan for reaching, but it's not a big deal. For true long distance single or short handed stuff, I'd invest in a wind vane system. Apologies for the strong opinion, but there are just more effective places to spend money on a boat.
07-01-2012 01:46 AM
SlowButSteady
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

Anything up to about 35 feet LOA is easily manageable with a tiller in all but the nastiest conditions. If your 30-foot boat seems too big to handle with a tiller, you probably need to reduce sail and/or balance the sails. Cal 40's originally came with tillers, although they were far from cruising boats. As others have said, a tiller will give the helmsman far more feedback making it far easier to really be "in tune" with the boat. A tiller allows much faster adjustments, particularly when operating in tight quarters (such as docking). Additionally, a tiller is simpler (always a plus), cheaper (another plus), and tilts up and out of the way when not sailing.

But I find the biggest advantages to a tiller are: the ability of the helmsman to steer just about anywhere in the cockpit using a tiller extension; and being able to steer by straddling the tiller (or just hooking a leg over the tiller whilst seated), thus leaving both hands free to trim sails, untangle lines, operate the radio, eat a snack, open a beer, et cetera.
07-01-2012 12:56 AM
CalebD
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justapersona;891250
...snip...

[B
CalebD[/B] - so you're saying Larry isn't just crazy after all these years? :-)

...snip...

Do you "Tiller People" go the extra mile, and get things like those piston-like auto-pilots and such things?

I do miss feeling the wind in the sails - really feeling it - the way I could in my Coronado 15 with it's centerboard and 360 lbs total weight. The tiller and tiller extension were like dental tools (compared to my C22, now). I can really see what you guys are talking about with wanting to maintain that sense of it.
Justa...
I'd love to get a tiller pilot for longer trips but for now I endure the tyranny of the tiller. I can get my Tartan 27' to hold some points of sail reliably by tuning the sail balance and using the center board to adjust the center of effort. I can let the boat sail itself and walk away from the tiller for short periods.

I haven't tried this on my boat yet but there is a trick where you tie the active jib sheet to the tiller and the boat will head upwind in gusts. Try that one with wheel steering.

The feedback from the tiller is the thing I miss most when I sail on my friends 32' wheel equipped boat on the Chesapeake. I find I always have to visualize the rudder angle from the wheel which is not nearly as intuitive as a tiller setup. It is much easier with a wheel to make steering mistakes than with a tiller.

I'm teaching 12 - 16 year olds to sail Sunfish sailboats right now. I'm quite accustomed to telling them: "No, your other left!" when they push the tiller the wrong way. Some of them get it right away, some don't.

Jon Eisberg said what I was thinking but more eloquently.

Larry may still be crazy after all these years. Which Larry?
07-01-2012 12:03 AM
Justapersona
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

I'm in a Catalina22, eyeing boats in the 24-26 ft range. (You know, jumping from a 2400 lb boat to 5000 lbs.) We're on a reservoir, here in Colorado, but maybe to take with us when we move back to near the sea. This is all part of a plan to ramp up slowly (teaching myself), cruise, and live aboard.

The wheel - yes, that seems like what real boats have, right? The S2 26ft (8.0, '78-'83) has my eye these days; many don't have wheels, and I've been wondering about that - adding one. So thanks for this post, Islander11.

But, I also keep thinking about Lyn and Larry Pardey -- you know, the high priests of really doing it (or something).

There he is... with a tiller in his hand? No wheel?!?

CalebD - so you're saying Larry isn't just crazy after all these years? :-)

I also just got a Tiller Tamer. Haven't mounted it yet, but it will surely work better than my dock line method.

Do you "Tiller People" go the extra mile, and get things like those piston-like auto-pilots and such things?

I do miss feeling the wind in the sails - really feeling it - the way I could in my Coronado 15 with it's centerboard and 360 lbs total weight. The tiller and tiller extension were like dental tools (compared to my C22, now). I can really see what you guys are talking about with wanting to maintain that sense of it.
06-30-2012 11:58 PM
JonEisberg
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

As one who sails a similar size and type of boat, I'm a bit perplexed by why you'd want to change to a wheel... There are many drawbacks to a wheel on such a boat, IMHO...

Looks like your mainsheet/traveler is mounted on the cabintop, a wheel will really isolate the helmsman from the main... That's ALWAYS a bad idea...

A wheel exposes the helmsman to the elements to a far greater extent than a tiller, one of the beauties of which is the ability to huddle up under/behind the dodger while steering...

The ability of the helmsman to sit further forward and outboard, on the coaming or whatever, while using a hiking stick greatly enhances your view of the sails, particularly the telltales on the headsail...

In rough weather, climbing around to aft of the wheel can represent a considerable danger, as you have to step up onto the cockpit seats to do so, placing you in a very vulnerable position...

with the narrow footwell your cockpit currently has, standing behind the wheel at 20 degrees or more of heel will likely be very awkward, and tiring... There's a good reason why most boats designed for a wheel have a T-shaped cockpit...

What about clearance between the wheel and the opening of your cockpit lockers? That can often necessitate the choice of a rather small wheel, that might be far more fatiguing in use than a tiller...

Lazarette space is truly precious on boats as small as ours. Why would you want to clutter/diminish it with a quadrant and all the other crap wheel steering requires?

On all but the very best of wheel systems, such as a Whitlock, your "feel" and feedback of the helm is vastly superior from a tiller, IMHO... Not to mention, it gives you a precise visual indication of the amount of weather helm you're experiencing, invaluable for tuning the rig, deciding when to reef, and so on...

Self-steering - whether it be a tillerpilot or a windvane - will generally be simplified when applied to a tiller...

On a 30 footer, a wheel is really gonna clutter up your cockpit when it's not being used... A tiller, just the opposite, folding it back achieves just the opposite, at anchor or at the dock...

Not to mention, that "dead space" beneath the tiller can often be put to good use for storage of deck gear, and that will have the added benefit of reducing the volume of the cockpit that could be filled with seawater... On my boat, for example, that's where my liferaft lives...



Finally, Keep-It-Simple-Stoopid... And, a tiller is about as simple as it gets...

Frankly, I'm hard pressed to come up with a single reason in favor of making such a change, but - as always - that could be just me... (grin)
06-30-2012 11:09 PM
CalebD
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

Like I said: "More complicated mechanism that is prone to fatigue or failure."

Quote:
Originally Posted by flo617 View Post
Just (as in 1 hour ago) helped my neighbor pull his boat back into the slip after he lost steering (just as he was making his first turn out). After unmounting the top of his pedestal he found the chain had jumped. The worst thing was that it was preventing the rudder from moving even with the emergency tiller...

I just thought it was worth relating in this thread

Florent
06-30-2012 11:00 PM
flo617
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

Just (as in 1 hour ago) helped my neighbor pull his boat back into the slip after he lost steering (just as he was making his first turn out). After unmounting the top of his pedestal he found the chain had jumped. The worst thing was that it was preventing the rudder from moving even with the emergency tiller...

I just thought it was worth relating in this thread

Florent
06-30-2012 09:27 PM
PaulinVictoria
Re: Tiller conversion to wheel

Pros: You won't have something to catch your knackers on
Cons: You'll have a wheel

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