Selecting A Mechanical Steering System
system is a
critical factor in achieving good boat handling performance and
operation. Engine horsepower, proper torque, hull design and boat
speed, in their varied combinations exert loads on steering
The resulting steering forces vary considerably from boat to boat
motor to motor, therefore you must take extreme care to ensure
steering system you select matches your application.
The following guidelines will assist
making a steering system selection, and in particular, alert you
potential problem areas.
- With an increase in speed and
horsepower, steering forces increase considerably. High
performance boats often leave and re-enter the water,
creating high shock loads on the steering system. Additionally,
certain hull designs may have a tendency to lose stability at
speeds, a condition commonly called "chine walk".
- The speed at which instability
occur varies significantly among different type boats. A Hardin
Marine twin cable or hydraulic steering system is generally
for boats moving at higher speeds.
- The torque of large outboard
cause a boat to veer sharply from a straight heading or make it
difficult to bring out of a turn.
steering systems must
have appropriate mechanical advantage for ease of operation, and
steering cable has to be installed free of kinks, sharp bends or
obstructions, to permit the boat operator to maneuver the boat
at any speed.
- Corrosion of
cables can lead to
stiff operation, complete seizure, and/or loss of steering
The steering cable should be regularly inspected for cracks or
If found, the cable should be replaced. If there are no signs
cracking, the cable output end and the engine tilt tube should
cleaned thoroughly, coated with a quality marine lubricant, then
properly reassembled and maintained according to the engine
manufacturers specifications. Corrosive buildup can be
through this simple routine maintenance. Whenever possible, the
boat builder and/or dealer should select Hardin Marine cables
have stainless steel output ends to reduce corrosion, especially
boats used in salt water. Even then, if a boat is not going to
used for extended periods of time, it is recommended to
remove the cable output end from the thru-tube and properly
- The routing of steering cables
is also a
very important consideration. Multiple bends in the cable and
small bend radius will contribute to cable backlash and steering
inefficiency. Cables should be routed with as few bends as
possible and with the optimum radii achievable.
- Excessive cable length results
excessive backlash and cable inefficiency. If an installation
requires a 14 foot cable, a 14 foot cable should be used. Do
add unnecessary length.
- Larger boats with displacement
inboard rudders can create steering loads that exceed the
mechanical steering systems commonly used on runabouts.
steering systems are better suited to function under high
- Generally Uflex and Teleflex mechanical
steering systems can be used on boats up to 35 feet in length,
maximum working tiller arm load of 300 pounds rotary.
- Some high performance boat
combinations develop steering instability at high speed.
Instability becomes more prevalent in boats faster than 50 MPH.
twin cable system or a hydraulic steering system is recommended
these types of boats.
steering is recommended for
all boats, not equipped with power steering, that have a working
700 pounds rack or more at the tiller end.
- Maximum steering wheel diameter
- Teleflex mechanical steering
should not be used on boats equipped with engines that exceed
maximum horsepower rating of the boat.
Although Uflex and Teleflex designs and
manufactures steering systems that meet or
exceed all existing industry standards, it should be noted
high performance boats equipped with high performance
such as motor jack plates and high performance propellers,
generate steering loads far in excess of the 300 pounds at
tiller end. It is MANDATORY that boats equipped with high
performance equipment or accessories be water tested to
steering loads are within safe operating limits. For more
information, refer to the instruction sheet or contact us.
For the best possible results, plan
cable routing by the most direct route possible. Bend radius
be 8" or more. Keep the number of bends to a minimum. In any
case, do not bend the cable less than the minimum specified bend
Trim settings of outboards and stern drives can markedly affect
loads and maneuverability of your boat. Motor
tabs should be
set according to the motor manufacturers recommendations. After
installation, test your boat for ease of steering though the full
motor trim angles. Varying trim angles can change steering loads
any given system. Mounting position of an outboard can also
steering loads and boat handling characteristics. Strictly adhere
the mounting specifications established by the boat builder and