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My wheel is only 20", it's a bit too small IMO, I'd prefer 24", those couple of extra inches would make it just a touch more comfortable to steer from the windward coaming without significantly affecting the ease of getting around it.
We had a similar complaint and were able to find another boater who wanted to go the other way - so we swapped!.. Everybody happy now..
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Ah, never considered how a big wheel allows you sit outboard more. Blind to obvious I am.

I don't totally agree with the notice that you need them for leverage though. I wonder if anyone has ever had two sizes of wheels on board. One for fair weather and autopiloting - if only to make more room in the cockpit.
 

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Ah, never considered how a big wheel allows you sit outboard more. Blind to obvious I am.

I don't totally agree with the notice that you need them for leverage though. I wonder if anyone has ever had two sizes of wheels on board. One for fair weather and autopiloting - if only to make more room in the cockpit.
A practical, but not cheap, solution to the 'room in cockpit' aspect is Lewmar's folding wheel.

http://www.lewmar.com/products.asp?id=8538&channel=1

Others simply remove the wheel and strap it to a lifeline or pulpit for socializing at rest.
 

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"Yup; but also too, these 'fat assed' broad-beamers NEED two rudders "

Rich, surely you are jesting, you know better than that.

Those boats don't NEED two rudders. But the fact is that having two shallow rudders, and keeping one out of the water while the other is more vertical in the water, reduces the drag from the rudders to about 1/2 of what one traditional deep (long) rudder would have.

Those boats don't NEED two rudders, but having two rudders is FASTER than dragging one bigass plank behind the boat. Any boat that heels could benefit from that, if the owners were willing to PAY for performance.

Heck, even a Laser28 could benefit from that.
 

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I would venture a guess that a significant number of the newer boats, and all the high-priced ocean racing boats, have hydraulic steering, which means the boat could be steered with a joy-stick. :
Hydraulic steering is almost never used on race boats and for the most part is only used on larger luxury cruising boats. Hydraulics tend to be expensive, unreliable, high maintenance, and have minimal feel. That said, many larger boats used hydraulic rams for their autopilots.

My helm seat is a very comfortable, pedestal mounted, swivel helm seat that would normally be used on a powerboat. :
That type of seat works well when motoring down the intercoastal but makes no sense if you are trying to get decent sailing performance, and makes it very hard to keep a decent lookout when under sail.

In the not too distant future, I can readily envision the helm seat with a joy-stick handle at the end of the arm-rest and no wheel at all. Makes perfectly good sense to me. :)
Gary :cool:
Actually that exists today to some extent, although its even worse since the joy stick is on the portable remote device for the autopilot.

Ah, never considered how a big wheel allows you sit outboard more. Blind to obvious I am.

I don't totally agree with the notice that you need them for leverage though. I wonder if anyone has ever had two sizes of wheels on board. One for fair weather and autopiloting - if only to make more room in the cockpit.
I don't totally agree with the notice that you need them for leverage though. I wonder if anyone has ever had two sizes of wheels on board. One for fair weather and autopiloting - if only to make more room in the cockpit.
My boat came with three wheels; a 60" four-spoke, titanium racing wheel, a 56" 10-spoke, stainless steel offshore racing wheel, and a 42" 'cruising' wheel which I suspect was the original wheel for the boat. The 60" racing wheel is an abolute joy to steel. The lack of momentum and precision teel is amazing.

The 56" wheel has a very solid feel, but it has a lot more momentum and so is a bit more tiring to steer and you feel it in your wrists after a very long sail (8-12 hours on the helm).

The downsides of the big wheels is that it takes a bit of wiggle to slither past the wheel and the space between the wheel and the side of the cockpit is not for the corn fed.

I have only mounted the 'cruising wheel' once. Besides for looking silly and not being able to reach the wheel when sitting in a postion where you could see over the cabin or look up the slot, it was very difficult to steer a straight course since small movements of the wheel were bigger movements of the rudder and it took more force to move the wheel so you were more prone to oversteer.



(My wife Barbara testing the limits of heel before a wipe-out, not that she actually wanted to find the limit....)

Jeff
 

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Jeff, I disagree with you on that seat. I've sailed both Chesapeake Bay and offshore using that seat, my view in completely unobstructed, and because the seat swivels and locks, I can position it any way I want. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

And, I wouldn't take any bets on the hydraulic steering on race boats, either. I've owned several powerboats with hydraulic steering, never had a minutes problem - ever! They're rugged, very reliable, and no worries about weather helm.

Gary :cool:
 

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Well, Once again I find myself the subject of Sailnet ridicule due to my pursuit of comfort afloat. I'm with Gary, after standing from San Francisco to San Diego first thing I bought was a cushy seat.
Hey, if that works well for you, good on 'ya...

As Jeff says, such seats can be nice while motoring in flat water, with a book or a drink in one hand, and an autopilot remote in the other :) But I have yet to ever see a forward-facing helm seat on a sailboat that would not become extremely tiring to use in very short order when steering in a seaway, or become very uncomfortable at a 15-20 degree angle of heel... But hell, perhaps that's just me... ;-)

I've spent a fair amount of time with my butt parked in some very expensive state of the art helm seats from manufacturers such as Stidd or Recaro, steering sportfishermen or top-heavy motoryachts in a following or quartering sea...

In my experience, there is a very good reason why on virtually all such boats that will be helmed from such a seating position, are following the lead of bus drivers and truckers in their use of the most ergonomic orientation of their wheels is far and away the best, and least tiring solution...

anyone ever seen a bus, or an 18-wheeler, with a wheel mounted vertically? I didn't think so... :))


 

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Jeff, I disagree with you on that seat. I've sailed both Chesapeake Bay and offshore using that seat, my view in completely unobstructed, and because the seat swivels and locks, I can position it any way I want. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

And, I wouldn't take any bets on the hydraulic steering on race boats, either. I've owned several powerboats with hydraulic steering, never had a minutes problem - ever! They're rugged, very reliable, and no worries about weather helm.

Gary :cool:
Gary,

If you can sit on that seat and see under your genoa, let alone see the slot, then your genoa was cut too high for decent performance.

You obviously have not spent much time around race boats. I would take you bet about the majority of race boats not having hydraulics since I have seen a bunch of their steering systems over the years. Race boat helmsmen have no worries about feeling weather helm, because they want to feel it to make sure that the crew is trimming to keep weather helm to a minimum.

And if you had ever lived with a hydraulic system on a sailboat, you would know about needing to check hoses and get the cylinders rebuilt with a fair degree of regularity to maintain reliability, and that awful feeling when you see the pool of hydrualic fluid in the locker after the helm went spongy on you.

Jeff
 

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no hydraulic steering for me on sailboats either, hell no! now a hydraulic ram autohelm maybe

I love chain drives I think they are the simplest and easiest to fix, maybe cause Im into motorcycles and stuff!

here is a question for the pros

are there any belt driven systems out there? seems the lightweight would be a benefit here, especially on racing boats...
 

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Our last boat had an 'ego' wheel, and a somewhat unique A frame support pedestal.. We did a lot of upwind sailing and the best seating was outboard, to windward, straddling the wheel with your feet propped on the sides of the pedestal. Loved that set up!

Nice... but, I'll bet that setup might give one pause, when maneuvering around behind the wheel during a switch of the helmsman on a dirty night offshore, no? :))

I've never been able to shake the feeling that the massively oversized wheel on his J-46 CIELITA might have been a significant contributing factor to the loss of Ned Cabot in a gale off the west coast of Newfoundland a few years ago. After all, he had just come on deck, and was in the process of taking the helm when they were knocked down, and Ned went overboard...





That's always been one of my biggest objections to wheels on smaller boats, the risk of exposure during the simple act of climbing back around them...
 

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And if you had ever lived with a hydraulic system on a sailboat, you would know about needing to check hoses and get the cylinders rebuilt with a fair degree of regularity to maintain reliability, and that awful feeling when you see the pool of hydrualic fluid in the locker after the helm went spongy on you.

Jeff
Our old friend Pete from Florida Rigging just spent a week aboard a big Oyster in Charleston, re-doing the hydraulics... EVERYTHING on that boat is hydraulic, from steering to furlers to windlasses to toilet seats... :))

To hear him describe it, an absolute nightmare... Complexity that rivals that of a nuclear power plant, all living within the deepest recesses of the bilge...
 

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Jeff .... how does a large(r) wheel assist the auto pilot ? Paint me confused.

Fast .... we went with one of those Lewmar wheels a while back. Allowed for a larger diameter but still better access through the cockpit. All good but I doubt they are quite as strong as non folding type. Diameter of the rim is also less than original. I'd prefer the thicker rim.

I remember once seeing a cruising boat that had a Momo type car wheel so that they could replace main wheel when anchored but still have a usable whell if something untoward happened.
 

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Our old friend Pete from Florida Rigging just spent a week aboard a big Oyster in Charleston, re-doing the hydraulics... EVERYTHING on that boat is hydraulic, from steering to furlers to windlasses to toilet seats... :))

To hear him describe it, an absolute nightmare... Complexity that rivals that of a nuclear power plant, all living within the deepest recesses of the bilge...
Are you still in touch with Pete? He's a great guy. He rebuilt the hydraulics on my Dad's Brewer some years ago. He and I were once talking about the idea that hydraulic steering had its popularity because designers and boat boat builders did not have figure out how to run and hide a conventional system. The problem with being able to hide components in out of the way places is that the components ended up in just those hidden inaccessible locations.

I tend to agree with you about the safety of tillers on boats under about 35 feet.

I am not a big elk hide fan for reasons beyond my vegetarian beliefs. Around here they tend to get moldy, and they hold water which can be very uncomfortable in winter sailing. Beside the titanium wheel does not seem to hold cold.

Barbara says hello back. Please give us a call when you are near our neck of the woods.
Jeff
 

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Jeff .... how does a large(r) wheel assist the auto pilot ? Paint me Confused.
The larger wheel allows a lower power mechanical advantage which means less friction so the autopilot has less friction to overcome and a wheel pilot has smaller movements.
 

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The larger wheel allows a lower power mechanical advantage which means less friction so the autopilot has less friction to overcome and a wheel pilot has smaller movements.
paint me confused too if using a wheel pilot that would be true if you make the radius of the attachment wheel larger meaning the forces needed by the wheel pilot motor will be less(same applies if you make the motor gear smaller) however the movements will be longer

the outer rim(steerinf wheel) has very little effect unless we are talking extremely heavy wheels which of course require more power

or am I missing something here?

its like changing sprockets on a bike...make the counter sprocket(drive smaller you loose top end speed but increase torque(more movement) make it equal or bigger than the wheel sprocket you increase top speed however you risk overloading the engine and not being able to start...

or maybe Im not understanding the scenario

its the attachment point that determines how hard or not the autopilot works(friction as well)

on a below decks its how long the ram lever is or where its attached on the quadrant
on a tiller its how far away from the rudder stock

you can be excessive if you attach at the end of the tiller for example as you will run out of tiller pilot arm length(travel) but it will be very easy on the tiller pilot power drain.

dunno just my thoughts
 

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The larger wheel allows a lower power mechanical advantage which means less friction so the autopilot has less friction to overcome and a wheel pilot has smaller movements.
Nope, I'm still not getting it.

Our old boat had a wheel pilot, diameter of attachment at the wheel was around 300mm irrespective of overall wheel diameter.

St Malo has below deck which attaches to one of the arms below deck. Again I'm not seeing why overall wheel diameter would effect how that operates.
 

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Gary,

If you can sit on that seat and see under your genoa, let alone see the slot, then your genoa was cut too high for decent performance.

Sorry, Jeff, but I'm not a racer or a performance kinda guy. My boat sails as fast as I need to to sail, just over 10 MPH in 20 knots of wind, which is as fast as I need to go. And, yes, I can see just fine in all conditions. I always thought it was kinda stupid to have a sail cut so low that you cannot see where the Hell you are going, especially on a busy weekend. Just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But maybe there is something I just don't know, which I will freely admit is the case with some things. The below photo is the view I have under the jib



You obviously have not spent much time around race boats. I would take you bet about the majority of race boats not having hydraulics since I have seen a bunch of their steering systems over the years. Race boat helmsmen have no worries about feeling weather helm, because they want to feel it to make sure that the crew is trimming to keep weather helm to a minimum.

You're right. The only race boats I spent any time with were for the four years I worked the APBA circuit, and they all had hyraulic steering. Never really wanted to race a sailboat - just not my kinda thing. I'm a cruiser - not a racer. Oh, and during that four year stint with the APBA, I never saw a single steering failure. And those boats were skipping along at speeds up that would boggle your mind. The boats took a terrible pounding, especially on windy days, and no hydraulic steering failures.


And if you had ever lived with a hydraulic system on a sailboat, you would know about needing to check hoses and get the cylinders rebuilt with a fair degree of regularity to maintain reliability, and that awful feeling when you see the pool of hydrualic fluid in the locker after the helm went spongy on you.

If that were the case, no boat, power or sail, would have a hydraulic system. Same with cars, hard to find one that does not have power/hydraulic steering. Failures are pretty rare with today's hydraulic systems. When was the last time your car's power steering went bad? And, those hoses are subject to incredible temperature extremes, and horrible vibration, yet they're just like a Timex watch - they keep on tickin! Now, every commercial fishing boat, and nearly every charter fishing vessel I've come across in the past two decades uses hydraulic steering, and many use hydraulic winches. If they were as prone to failure as you seem to believe, wouldn't you think those guys would have come up with a better solution? They spend more time on the water, under the worst conditions, than any sailor I know of.


Jeff
Nuff said,

Gary :cool:
 

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I don't understand why the steering wheels on sailboats need to be so large.
Undoubtedly asked by someone that has never had to helm a big boat at sea in seriously heavy weather/seas for any time.
 

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paint me confused too if using a wheel pilot that would be true if you make the radius of the attachment wheel larger meaning the forces needed by the wheel pilot motor will be less(same applies if you make the motor gear smaller) however the movements will be longer

the outer rim(steerinf wheel) has very little effect unless we are talking extremely heavy wheels which of course require more power

or am I missing something here?

its like changing sprockets on a bike...make the counter sprocket(drive smaller you loose top end speed but increase torque(more movement) make it equal or bigger than the wheel sprocket you increase top speed however you risk overloading the engine and not being able to start...

or maybe Im not understanding the scenario

its the attachment point that determines how hard or not the autopilot works(friction as well)

on a below decks its how long the ram lever is or where its attached on the quadrant
on a tiller its how far away from the rudder stock

you can be excessive if you attach at the end of the tiller for example as you will run out of tiller pilot arm length(travel) but it will be very easy on the tiller pilot power drain.

dunno just my thoughts
What jeff means is the bigger the wheel the closer the gears are 1 to 1. the smaller wheel needs to move much further to make the same degree change on the rudder, so the auto pilot is turning thru a greater number of degrees to control the boat.
 
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