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Author Topic:   Replacement Steering for 1980 13 Sport
Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-19-2001 09:42 AM ET (US)   Profile for Georgian Bay Boater   Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater  
I am looking for suggestions as to what options I have available. I currently have the cable and pulley steering on my 1980 13 Sport and would like to go to mechanical steering i.e.: Teleflex or Morse. My concern is, that I do not want to totally modify my existing console on the starboard side to accommodate the spent travel tube under the helm. As well a concern was voiced by my marina about the sharp angle (aprox 90 degrees) the cable would have to make to go into the consol from where it runs along the gunnel (same as current cable and pulley system)

Has anyone installed a mechanical steering system on this type and size of helm without total modification? I would appreciate any advise on an appropriate model and past experiences.

Thank you in advance.


John Fitzgerald posted 06-19-2001 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for John Fitzgerald  Send Email to John Fitzgerald     
I just (last weekend) put a 10' Teleflex- cabled NFB with rotary helm into my sport. I also used an upgraded supersport console which is slightly wider. No problem making the turn coming out of the console. The only problem I had was since I have the older cutout transom I had to get the clamp block from Teleflex rather than use the tilt tube mount. I tried though, but I couldn't get enough travel out of the motor with the unit in the tilt tube.
andygere posted 06-19-2001 04:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Why not just rebuild the cable and pulley system? While not quite as silky as a teleflex, it's out of the way, simple and inexpensive. I replaced the cable and pulleys on my '72 13 almost ten years ago, and it's still working well. Just a little lube on the pullys now and then and it works great.
Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-19-2001 04:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
The problem I am having is that I have limited movement left and right with the motor at present and I have been advised that replacing the cable (additional wraps of cable on the steering spool under console) might solve the problem.
Since my wife and 10 month old son are going to be using the boat occasionaly, I would like to go with an updated system with less room for failure.
This update depends, of course, on price and compatibility of a new steering system.
At present I am looking into all options.



jimh posted 06-20-2001 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If your Whaler is a 1980, I am surprised that it did not have the Teleflex-style steering on it. My 1976 did.

Perhaps you boat was ordered without the steering and the dealer installed the wire rope and pulley system.

I remember as a boy studying carefully how the pulley system worked on a friend's boat. It was one of the first mechanical devices where I could see all the components clearly and understand how it worked. It was fascinating for a 10-year-old to see the engine move when the wheel was turned.

If you had a really vintage Whaler it might be suggested to retain the wire rope and pulley arrangement as part of the authenticity of the boat, but since your model is really too new to have had that as standard, I think it best to consider upgrading to the mechanical steering.

The 90-degree bends are a feature in all installations of these systems in smaller Whalers, so do not be deterred by that.

There are several styles of actuators for the steering wheel end of the system. One of these should be compact enough in width to fit beneath the existing console.


Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-20-2001 09:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
Thanks for the input Jim, if, as you mentioned, I wanted to retain the wire rope and pulley arrangement as part of the authenticity of the boat, if I do replace it perhaps someone on this site would like to acquire the system towards a restoration project.

Once a decision is made I will post it under the appropriate heading.

You mentioned that your 1976 did have mechanical steering, was it a 13-foot or 15 feet? The identification plate on the boat states that it is a 1980 Sport and as such I would assume it came from the factory in Rockland(?) Mass. rigged the way it is, or would that be an incorrect assumption?

As always, thank you in advance for all responses

Tom W Clark posted 06-20-2001 10:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
jimh, I believe the 15's always had mechanical steering. The 13's did not convert until sometime around 1980 so I suspect Andreas' cable and pulley system is original.

With tens of thousands of 13 sports out there with mechanical steering I must assume that making the bend and accommodating the steering head is not a problem.

I tend to agree with Andy about the cable and pulley steering in so much as one should keep it if one wants it. It works fine. However, I think the mechanical system is preferable, all things considered, and this sounds like what Andreas wants to do. I would like to dispel a myth about the cable and pulley steering: it is actually more precise and tighter, and with less resistance than a mechanical steering system. In terms of pure performance, cable and pulley steering is superior.

Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-20-2001 11:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
If I understand correctly, the cable and pully system is fine but I seem to be unable to move the motor more than about 2 1/2 to 3 inches from side to side. Now ,as mentioned by my marina, if additional cable on the steering spool under the console is all that is required than it would be a relativly simple repair.
In your experience, what is the "usual" movement from side to side (pivoting left and right of the motor) in a cable and pully system ?

Thanks in advance


andygere posted 06-20-2001 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Could the problem be in the steering tube on your outboard? Disconnect the cables from the motor and see if you can turn the motor by hand and get more range. There should be some grease fittings along the pivot point that may need some fresh lube. If that works out OK, it could just be that your existing cable is too short.
Bigshot posted 06-20-2001 11:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Bought my 82 new and it had pulleys. i like the cable better due to less turns from side to side. A new helma nd cable is about $130 and should bolt right up. You might have to cut the wood a bit on the side where the old pulley were to open it up for the cable. I would convert. Much cleaner looking, less chance of failure and better resale. Should not take more than a couple hours to install. !0ft is the right size i believe and might be the smallest available w/o custom ordering.
Tom W Clark posted 06-20-2001 11:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

You don't say where this 2 1/2" to 3" side to side measurement is taken but I will simply assume that it is not enough range of motion to be satisfactory to you. My experience is that there should not be any limitation of this range with either mechanical or cable and pulley steering.

Look at the spool under the console. There should be three full wraps of each cable, six total. In other words the spool should be full. If it is not then there is your problem.

Much has been made of the danger of cable and pulley steering failure. If the cable breaks then the boat goes out of control. This is true. It is also true of any other kind of steering. Cables get old and corrode so I think it is wise to replace the cable periodically whether it has gotten too short or not. Cable is relatively inexpensive and should be considered a maintenance item. Likewise the pulleys and their attachments should be inspected for signs of corrosion.

I myself prefer the cleaner look of a mechanical system and if I were rigging a 13 that did not have cable and pulley steering I would definitely not use cable and pulley steering. But if it is already set up for it then why not use it? It will be less expensive and you won't have a bunch of screw holes to fill.

Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-20-2001 11:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
When I had the motor disconnected and off the hull in the spring (new hull epoxy) and then reinstalled it, there seemed to be enough free movement left and right. The motor also swung freely, without binding due to lack of lubrication.
One other nuance I noticed is that the spring/cable connections (expansion and compression springs attached to cable at motor) seem to bottom out (compress or expand to maximum) if I turn from lock to lock.
If I install new cable for the system, what would be the appropriate length to maintain proper steering movement ?

Thank in advance


Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-20-2001 03:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
Also is there any specific type of cable to be used ? Since this type of steering system is no longer in production, I would be curious as to what type of cable could be suggested.

As always, thanks in advance for all information.


Tom W Clark posted 06-20-2001 06:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
You can buy it from West Marine. They call it "tiller rope". It is a 7 x 7 steel cable with a PVC cover. The overall diameter is 3/16". It costs 35/foot
CarlRobert posted 06-21-2001 01:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for CarlRobert    
I just installed Teleflex NFB on my '62 13' sport. VERY easy to install. I used a jigsaw to enlarge the hole that accomodated the old cable/pulley helm-just follow the template that comes with the helm kit. I custom ordered and installed a 9' cable. It fit better than a 10' cable. Of all the upgrades I just completed on this boat, this was the easiest.
RSGAULT posted 06-22-2001 12:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for RSGAULT  Send Email to RSGAULT     
My 1980 13' Sport is rigged with cable/pulley steering. I just bought this boat and intend to restore it. I will retain the steering system as installed but intend to overhaul the system. If you decide to retain the cable/pulley system my recommendation is to rebuild the system with new parts which can be purchased from West Marine. Take care to minimize friction in the system and you should be happy with the performance.
Georgian Bay Boater posted 06-22-2001 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
I thank you all for the helpful information regarding my steering dilemma.

I have chosen to retain the cable and pulley system and replace the cable and any other worn parts as my marina has a good selection of used guides and pulleys from other replaced systems.

Since there is essentially no serious problem with this system (if Whaler used it as OEM than it must be okay) on going maintenance will give my family many more years of happy Whalering.

Thank you for all input and if you are ever in the Honey Harbour area of Georgian Bay, contact me as any excuse to go Whalering is a good one.


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