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Author Topic:   Wire Rope and Pulley Steering
Flipper posted 04-06-2004 10:28 AM ET (US)   Profile for Flipper   Send Email to Flipper  
Does anyone know exactly how the wire rope goes onto the drum under the console on a wire rope and pulley steering system, and in what direction? What is the slot for, in the side of the drum? I would do the trial and error thing, but in this case I'll be safe...
SMLWhaler posted 04-06-2004 02:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for SMLWhaler  Send Email to SMLWhaler     
Do yourself a favor and get rid of that pulley steering. Those things are tempermental and are dangerous as a result. You can hook yourself up with a Teleflex system from start to finish for around $250.00.
greyg8r posted 04-06-2004 07:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for greyg8r    

SML's right. I'm a fan of original, but I'm also a fan of life.

But, I think you can get it for less than $250. I just bought a cable and no-feedback-helm for $140, but I don't know if your wire rope system needs more parts.


Flipper posted 04-07-2004 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Flipper  Send Email to Flipper     
I have an 11 footer, and someone told me a while back they didn't make the Teleflex short enough for this application.
frontier posted 04-08-2004 01:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for frontier  Send Email to frontier     
I've got a very short new Teleflex cable (I think 6') that may work for you. Let me know and I'll make you a good deal on it. The Teleflex website (or West Marine catalog)tells you how to measure. It may require a standoff unit because of the short shaft and cut-down transom. (I may have one of those in the "misc. stuff box" too!). I agree, it's a lot safer than wire rope steering.
andygere posted 04-08-2004 03:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Why is everyone so afraid of the wire rope and pulley steering sytems? When I had my '72 13 Sport, I replaced all the components of the original wire rope and pulley system, and it worked just fine. Properly set up, I think they are safe and serviceable on a 13 foot boat.

Flipper, the general idea is for one end of the wire rope to be winding on the drum as the other one unwinds. If I can unearth some photos of my old 13 that have enough detail to be worth anything, I'll let you know.

Flipper posted 04-14-2004 01:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for Flipper  Send Email to Flipper     

I have figured out the way the wire rope goes on the drum under the helm. It's quite simple: The center (roughly) of the wire rope loops inside the slot and each trailing end winds in opposite directions until they are 1/2 turn from meeting each other in the center. Tape the wire ropes with electrical tape to keep the coils tight while you rig the rest (the correct direction).

I also have had no catastrophic occurances with wire rope and pulley steering. Before our 11', we owned a 13' that was equipped with it for over thirty years.

jimh posted 04-14-2004 01:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Changed "cable" to "wire rope" except in those places where "cable" really meant "cable". Much preferred to use "wire rope" when you mean wire rope.]
andygere posted 04-14-2004 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
As you probably know, you just need to keep an eye on the plastic coating on the wire rope, and change it out when it starts to wear. Properly set up, the pulley and wire rope system is more than adequate on a 13 foot Whaler, and in my estimation much safer than tiller steering.
pglein posted 04-15-2004 06:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
The cable steering system IS dangerous. And you do have to worry about more than just watching the coating. Some years ago I was out in my whaler when the small retainer clamps on one end of the cable came un-done. I was in the middle of a turn at pretty high speed pulling a wake boarder. The steering snapped back in the opposite direction, the boarder let go and the boat accellerated. It immediately went into wild spin which I could not stop, running over the wakeboarder, throwing myelf from the boat, and slamming one passenger into the side of the boat. In the end, the casualties were one broken arm, one severely injured wakeboarder (propeller marks up his legs and torso), a wet skipper, and a ruined lower unit. The lower unit cost $1500 to rebuild and the medical bills were well over $1000 for both injured parties.

I have to admit that I was a, not wearing my kill switch; and b, younger and less experienced than I am now. However, the kill switch would have prevented nothing other than the injured wakeboarder. And while I was younger, I'm not sure that today, I would catch on any faster than I did then.

This accident was preventable. My friend could have been killed. I could have been killed. REPLACE YOUR CABLE STEERING SYSTEM if it is the ONY change you make to your boat.

andygere posted 04-15-2004 06:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I don't discount the severity of the accident that you describe, but if the wire rope were double clamped (the only way I would set it up)and the clamps checked periodically, it may have been prevented. Like any mechanical system, things need to be maintained and checked. The steering cable in a Teleflex can break, the bolt on the steering yoke can come loose or rust out, and the same type of accident could occur. My point is that a well maintained pulley and wire rope system is not a ticking time bomb.
Tom W Clark posted 04-15-2004 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I'm sorry about your accident and I am glad nobody was killed. That's a scary story! But if a mechanical steering system fails in the same situation, the exact same thing will happen. Following the Forum over the last few years I have read accounts of both types of steering systems failing with the same results.

I would like to clear some confusion about cable/pulley steering systems and mechanical cable steering systems. I agree with Andy, the cable/pulley systems work great if set up properly. ANY 13 foot Whaler that is 30 years old or more obviously needs not just the cable (wire rope) replaced but all the pulleys and clamps. This is not a big expense nor a lot of trouble.

A cable/pulley steering system is considerably tighter, not sloppier than mechanical systems and a lot tighter than those NFB systems (which I do not care for). In terms of performance, the cable/pulley systems are superior. The mechanical systems do however, have a somewhat cleaner appearance and, if starting the installation from scratch, are probably easier to set up.

SpeedBump posted 04-15-2004 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for SpeedBump  Send Email to SpeedBump     
Have to agree with Andy and Tom on this one, newer systems do fail, even when maintained. With the wire rope system I believe you do get some warning before a failure.

I retrofitted my 13 with a telflex system. It had a metal standoff w/knuckle joint at the transom that was powdercoated. After @ three seasons of use the knuckle had worn down unbeknownst to me even though I had kept it greased seasonally. While crossing a busy channel the clamp seperated off the knuckle as it had worn away inside the clamp. Lost all contol of the boat and narrowly escaped a major high speed accident with other boats.

Scared the bejeasus out of me and one of the kids. Fortunately I had some cable ties in the tackle box and rigged the clamp back onto the knuckle for a very slow and conservative ride back to home port. Teleflex replaced the powder coated rusty metal clamp and knuckle with a new Stainless steel unit w/o charge. And yes, I was using the kill switch lanyard but it was still a close call.

pglein posted 04-16-2004 12:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
The cable was double clamped. One clamp came loose and the second couldn't hold the weight and failed as well. You're right that both systems can fail, however the cable system is much more likely to do so given that has more moving parts and they are all exposed to the elements. If you use stainless steel hardware for the installation, I can't think of any reason that a mechanical system should fail except in the most extreme of conditions.
prm1177 posted 04-16-2004 01:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for prm1177  Send Email to prm1177     
Having a lot of experience with wire rope systems in my high school boats, the only thing you have to be aware of is cable/rope stretch. At the motor pulleys, the rope is usually secured after looping through the pully by a clamp. Periodically loosen the clamp a little and pull any slack out of the line. Have someone make sure the steering wheel doesn't move. Slack can cause the rope to fall off the steering wheel if it's loose enough.
Flipper posted 04-21-2004 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Flipper  Send Email to Flipper     
Thanks for the warnings and input. I actually have hydraulic steering on my 15' (page 50 in Cetacea). I didn't want to take any chances with steering torque in that boat, and I'm taking no chances with the 11' by setting the trim so that I feel no pressure in either direction.
I realize failure of the steering is more common (and dangerous) in a turn, so I've left a good length of wire rope at each end (didn't cut them off too close to the clamps)end and fed the ends into the shock springs. I've seen this done before, and I believe it delays a "slip through" failure, and prevents a "wire stripper" failure. I've had the boat out on the river for a week and have checked the clamps. Still holding strong.
I believe everything can fail (from experience) and I'm slowly getting into the habit of doing a good "walk around" before taking off.
andygere posted 04-21-2004 09:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
If the cable was double clamped, and a single clamp could not "hold the weight" as you describe, I think something else was wrong. There should not be so much load on that cable to turn a 40 hp outboard that a single clamp would fail under the load. I suspect that either one or more of the pulleys were worn and not rolling properly, or that the motor itself had a steering problem, perhaps a worn or non-lubricated steering tube. The purpose of the second clamp is not to add strength to the joint, but rather to insure against the first clamp vibrating loose or falling off. As others have mentioned, with any steering system a regular inspection is a good idea to help prevent failure. I understand why you feel these systems are unsafe in light of your experience, but I have had a different experience and therefore a different opinion. We'll just agree to disagree on this one, and let folks make up their own minds.

jimh posted 04-21-2004 11:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Could someone please help me interpret the use of the word "cable" in these recent additions. Does "cable" mean "cable" as in mechanical cable steering? Or does cable mean "wire rope" as in wire rope and pulley steering?

I really find this confusing when people insist on using cable as a term for wire rope. Help!

Tom W Clark posted 04-21-2004 11:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

Let me help you. When you read my comments and you see the word "cable" and "pulley" next to each other, you will understand that I mean the twisted steel line that you like to call "wire rope".

Now the problem with dialects is that not everyone speaks the same one. This sometimes leads to confusion, as we all know. But I suspect that getting everybody to speak your particular dialect is going to be a very "hard row to how", as they say.

The dialect I like to use her in the continuousWave Forum is a peculiar one I learned reading all those Boston Whaler catalogs. I figure that if "pulley" and "cable" is good enough for Boston Whaler, it is good enough for me ;-

Really, why reinvent the Whaler?

pglein posted 04-22-2004 12:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
When I say "cable" I mean cable, not mechanical. Look in a West Marine catalog or any other major marine retailer and you will see the difference:

plastic coated cable run through pulleys and a drum on the steering shaft. this is what is found on older OEM Whalers.

uses a rack and pinion to mechanically push a rod through tubing to turn the motor. this is what is found on newer OEM Whalers

Uses a reservoir, hydraulic pump and hydraulic tubing to used pressurized hydraulic fluid to move pistons. This is what is found on larger boats (some new whalers, i'm sure).

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