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Hello...

The helm on my '77 I32 MarkII has never been terribly easy to turn. I'm not taking about weather helm... I'm talking about sitting at the dock and turning the wheel. Took the boat up the Chesapeake for a 4 day cruise and found that the heavy helm was enough to give my auto pilot fits. Tried adjusting the auto pilot, but even with it too loose, the helm is heavy. Anyone else had this problem? Suggestions?
 

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Sounds mechanical.. either tight bushings on the rudder shaft or some kind of interference/other issue with the system between the wheel and the quadrant.

In the past we've suffered both tight shaft bushings (wrong material used) and another time a seized bushing on the wheel shaft itself.
 

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I had a heavy helm problem a couple of weeks ago. I found the problem -- but it requires starting at one end and working to the other eliminating things as you go. Unfortunately, I found the problem at the opposite end from where I started, but it did afford an opportunity to thoroughly check the system -- grease sheeves, oil wire, rebuild the pedistal, etc. -- the usual joys of messing w/ boats.

Based on my experience, I'd recommend that the first thing you do is disconnect the steering cables from the quadrant and see how hard it is to turn the rudder manually. If it's stiff with no steering gear attached then it's either somethings on the outside wrapped around the rudder, or sticky/worn rudder bearings. You should also check to see if the quadrant itself is binding on anything. This was the problem I found -- the quadrant nuts had come loose and the quadrant dropped two inches and was binding on a piece of wood framing.

If the rudder turns freely with the cables disconnected you will know it's somewhere between the quadrant and the wheel. (I've assumed you have a wheel -- if your boat is tiller steered, it's one of the problems mentioned above or it could be that both the autopilot and the owner are getting old and tired :D).

Assuming a wheel -- trace the cables from the quadrant to the sheeves. Check the sheeves to see if they spin freely with no cable tension. Then work up into the pedestal. One of my initial hypotheses was that the wheel brake on the pedestal was failing to release. I took the pedestal apart and stripped the bearings out -- cleaned everything up and regreased and all was good on that end. The pedestal is not something that you routinely service, so you may be a problem there.

Good luck.
 

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Faster, sounds serious. I presume the treatment was covered by the Canadian health care system. :D
:laugher ... yes, it was serious!;) - thankfully cured!.

But I can tell you we have NO complaints about our healthcare system, which we have unfortunately been required to make serious use of withing the last couple of years!!
 

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Glad everything worked out....but what with your bushing problem and SaltyGirl's difficulty organizing screws I was beginning to wonder where this forum was headed.:)
 
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