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DaveMancini 09-22-2010 06:26 PM

Wheel to Tiller Conversion
Hi All,

I am in the middle of converting our PSC 34 to a tiller. I've extended the rudder stock and I'm at the point where I want to move the engine controls off the pedestal. Does anyone know where the controls were on the tiller boats PSC made and how the cable was led?


Dave Mancini
PSC 34 #305 "Swan"

MC1 09-22-2010 06:49 PM

2 Attachment(s)
While you're waiting for responses Dave, here's a couple pictures from my '34 pic collection from Yachtworld. Notice the levers on the port side, near the port for the manual bilge pump handle.
(Thank you to the current owners of these fine '34 specimens for use of the pics.)

DaveMancini 09-22-2010 07:32 PM

Thanks MC1.

Brilliant idea to check the yacht listings. I'm pretty sure the pics show a boat that was also converted from a wheel, hence the rounded seat. I think the tiller boats had a flat deck through which the rudder stock protruded. The position of the controls is exactly where I am thinking of putting mine, just because it would be easiest and out of the way. Nice to know it worked for someone else.

It will be insteresting to see if anyone comes up with a pic of a "tiller boat" to find out if PSC had put the controls somewhere else on those.


wsmurdoch 09-22-2010 09:30 PM

I have a tiller steered boat.

My original controls were an earlier incarnation of the current Teleflex MJB (see page 639 of the West Marine Catalogue). The arms were chrome plate over zinc and were a mess after 20 years. I bought a Chinese knockoff of the MJB from BoaterBits and did a little parts swapping.

Inside the port locker are cutouts in the plywood core for the controls. Mine are not installed in that spot but rather somewhat farther aft. The engine cutoff handle and mounts for its control cable are also in the port locker forward of the engine controls.

The aft seat of my cockpit is flat. The fiberglass rudder post tube comes up to the bottom of the seat. There is a grease fitting screwed into the tube below the seat to give the rudder post a shot of grease once or twice a year.

In the engine compartment where the steering quadrant is located on wheel steered boats, I have a shelf with spots for two batteries, one on each side of the rudder post tube. Combined with the two batteries in the port locker, that gives me spots for four 27/29/31 batteries. The starboard battery can be serviced through a panel in the foot of the quarter berth. I have a group 29 battery there which serves as my engine starting battery. The port side is currently empty as the only way I could figure to check the water would be to remove the battery, and I am too lazy to do that once a month.

We use a Simrad TP30 autopilot set in a hole aft of the starboard cockpit locker pushing on a bracket below the tiller to steer the boat when we aren’t. It failed coming back from the Bahamas two years ago and it now has a TP32 as a spare.

I have been through my pictures and don’t have any good ones of the aft end of the cockpit. The best I can do is this one taken on the way to the Bahamas this year in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Tiller in the Snow picture by wsmurdoch - Photobucket

My engine is in New Jersey being rebuilt, the boat is in North Carolina, and I am in Tennessee. When the engine is ready I’ll drive to Union, pick it up, then go to New Bern to install it. I suspect that will be at the end of this month. I can take some pictures then.

Also in the slip beside me is another PSC 34, Freedom, 1986, with tiller steering.

Bill Murdoch
1988 PSC 34
Irish Eyes

CalebD 09-22-2010 10:11 PM

It is refreshing to me to hear of folks converting back to 'tiller technology', especially on a 34'. It always amazes me how many other folks want to convert their 20 something sailboat to a wheel which leaves me scratching my head.

mdbee 09-22-2010 10:39 PM

I am curious what wheel proponents feel their advantage is? I can understand if there is a need for more leverage but otherwise?

I have only sailed with a wheel a few times but it seems you have a better "feel" or connection with the boat / water / wind.


Originally Posted by CalebD (Post 647071)
It is refreshing to me to hear of folks converting back to 'tiller technology', especially on a 34'. It always amazes me how many other folks want to convert their 20 something sailboat to a wheel which leaves me scratching my head.

DaveMancini 09-22-2010 11:28 PM

Thanks, Bill, for the excellent description. You filled in some important gaps, namely the grease fitting and the shelf for the batteries.

It turns out the side mount Teleflex controls on our pedestal will fit nicely on the side of the port locker just about where you describe and the pictures MC1 sent show, so I guess the way is clear. I had to drill out the stainless screws fitting the controls to the pedestal accessory box today. Someone forgot the TefGel when they installed it.

No need to send more pictures. I'll should it done by that time.

Thanks everyone else for your comments on tillers. I could give you a list of pros for the tiller as long as my backstay, most salient of which is that Bill Crealock designed her that way. Our original 34 was ordered with a tiller (you know the story, Bill). So we are coming full circle and it feels good.


ANKA 09-23-2010 03:18 AM

Please all you Americans go ahead and change them back to tillers so I have more to choose from when I finally go searching for a PSC 34 or 37 for real in a couple of years.

These are shots of a 34 that made it from Seattle to New Zealand a couple of years ago. Still sailing the Pacific I hear.

I've talked about tillers before on this forum and I actually think about it a lot since all the neat boats I look at one line in the US have wheels, and up to 40ft here in New Zealand, a lot have tillers. I think that the only time a wheel might be better is reversing under power or if your boat is badly balanced for some reason. Since we all try to avoid this as much as possible, the wheel is really decorative.
Someone asked me once before about tillers in heavy weather and “Wouldn't a wheel be better?” I'll answer it here and hope he sees it. I’ve been in heavy weather in yachts with both tillers and wheels. With a small crew, the last place I want to be is on the stern behind a wheel, and as for climbing around the jolly thing to go forward, forget it. If I’m out there, I’ll be hunkered down by the bridge deck or behind the dodger if conditions are good enough to leave it on. If self steering is not useable (as it seems to be the case in really heavy weather) The tiller will often be lashed or I’ll have a couple of turns of a spare sheet on it to take the load off my arm but still allow dodging. In storms our tactics are generally as passive as possible as long as possible because fatigue is the major problem.
Conversely, if you have had to take a pedestal apart in heavy weather lying to a parachute anchor in order to replace the sheared off key in the top shaft, as I have, you might not want to do that again, EVER. I was also in a well built yacht in Japan where an uncontrolled gybe in a gusty post typhoon wind managed to neatly rip the whole pedestal from the cockpit as the mainsheet caught it. Add to this that engine controls are often on the other side of wheel spokes, and you have to wonder why people do it. It is not only uncomfortable and dangerous, you can’t use that free foot to change throttle or direction.
One last thing for all you guys changing to tillers, please put a nice self supporting, adjustable length racing style tiller extension on for me so I can sit almost anywhere in the cockpit to steer, even standing on the combings.


Podjo 09-23-2010 09:07 AM

I was at the factory in Washington last week and they are getting very good at tiller conversions. They are doing some beautiful work, and I believe I heard that they have done five so far.

DaveMancini 09-23-2010 10:56 AM

Thanks for your salty comments, Andrew.

I sailed my first boat from San Diego to New Zealand via the Milk Run in 1978-81. It had a tiller and most of my list of reasons for a tiller were made on that voyage. I will add the one about ripping the pedestal out of the cockpit. It's similar in pucker value to my broken quadrant wire and subsequant gybe in 25 knots while all trussed up like a chicken (pole up and preventer out).


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