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Author Topic:   Steering frozen on Montauk
TTWhaler posted 04-08-2008 04:08 PM ET (US)   Profile for TTWhaler   Send Email to TTWhaler  
Well, my 2004 170 Montauk with 90HP Merc has a frozen steering. I have read the threads about the non-stainless steel tilt tube. I used WD40 and pounded the rod with a wood block and hammer, it won't move at all!

Anyways, I'm considering a hydrallic steering system as the replacement. Which one should I get?


an86carrera posted 04-08-2008 07:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
Seabob4 has a good deal on the BayStar by teleflex which would work well on that boat/motor combo.


Casco Bay Outrage posted 04-08-2008 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
TT -

Try tilting the motor full up and down a dozen times. Many have had success with this technique.


fisherman posted 04-08-2008 07:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for fisherman  Send Email to fisherman     
When you last greased the steering cable ends, did you have the rod fully retracted into the tube. If not, the cable may have become hydraulically locked. In which case you may have to take it apart to free it up. Just a thought?
TTWhaler posted 04-09-2008 03:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for TTWhaler  Send Email to TTWhaler     
Casco Bay Outrage: It's the inside of the tilt tube and steering rod that's stuck. If I cut the cable on the starboard side, I can slide out the tilt tube with rod attached. So raising and lowering won't do the job, but I've tried that already. =)

fisherman: Hmm... I've never greased the cable end. Always just the rod end that's accessible externally.

Here's a photo of the starboard cable side.

I remove the nut from the tilt tube, after that I am able to turn the steering wheel.

The part that's between the aluminum nut and the tilt tube threads, what part is that? The cable? Because the diameter is smaller than the main rod on the port side.
This "cable" moves when I turn the steering with the nut off.

Keep the advice coming. If all fails I'll be hacksawing the cable and then taking the tilt tube+stuck rod out.

BTW, has anyone replaced their steering cable on a 170? Did you have to remove the motor in order to get the rod into the tilt tube? The cable is so stiff and the rod is so long, there might not be enough room to get the rod in... maybe. (So that's why I was thinking a hydraulic system would be easier to install)

TTWhaler posted 04-09-2008 03:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for TTWhaler  Send Email to TTWhaler     
an86carrera: Thanks, I just emailed Seabob4.
BlueMax posted 04-09-2008 08:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax  Send Email to BlueMax     
It has also been previously recommended to install a "Steersman Nut" which allows the steering rod and cables to be greased -

Runs $20 for Anodized Aluminum (Fresh water use) and $30 for Solid Steel.

Just another thought.

Feejer posted 04-09-2008 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Feejer  Send Email to Feejer     
Wow, Does this same type of problem effect the 05 and newer boats? I'm pretty good about lubing up the steering a few times during the season.
Tohsgib posted 04-09-2008 01:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
If you have mechanical steering it effects your matter if a 2005 or a 1925. You NEED to lube it a few times a season. I concur on the grease fitting dealy thingie for $29 in SS.
Tohsgib posted 04-09-2008 01:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib should wipe off the old grease and clean it out with WD40 before greasing t. If you just leep slamming in grease, it will harden and freeze your steering as well and is a REAL biotch to fix.
Casco Bay Outrage posted 04-09-2008 02:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
TT -

I have been where you are.

I would take off the nut on the opposite side (port) and shoot PB Blaster in BOTH sides. Let sit overnight. Shoot it again. Let sit. Try tilting. Tilting does actually turn the steering rod inside the tube.

If the starboard side nut is off, the cable will slide on the sheath (black part) but the cable inside the tube is still frozen.

If no joy, with both nuts off, bang the cable out from the port side. If you get it to move 6 inches, shoot PB Blaster and then try to get it back in. Work it back and forth.

If you can't get it unstuck, apply medium heat along the tube with a propane torch and remove.

Cutting the cable should be the last resort. You will still need to drive it out.

Regardless of age, if you don't have a steersman nut, you should pull the cable out every fall and re-lubricate it. leaving it out of the tube is also another measure to prevent freezing.


Tohsgib posted 04-09-2008 02:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Good points!

PS..if you tried to break it lose with the steering wheel, chances are you might have done damage to the helm or cable at the helm if you REALLY yanked on it hard.

thediscusthrower posted 04-09-2008 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for thediscusthrower  Send Email to thediscusthrower     
I had the same issue 3 years ago. I had to use a brass punch, hammer and a can of "Deep Creep" (i.e., Sea Form in spray form) to spray the inside of the tube and free the cable up. I also utilized a set of Vise Grips to wiggle the rod back and forth while pulling it out of the tube. You can also try placing a piece of wood under the skeg and using a floor jack to take the weight/pressure off of the mount where the cable slides. That may allow the liquid to penetrate better.

I would also recommend not using grease at all. I installed a special nut which allows lubrication with an oil. Before I installed that, I would use sewing machine oil. I think the special nut and bottle/tubing/oil is available thru Davis and should be in most boat supply catalogs.


bigjohn1 posted 04-09-2008 06:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Steering cable replacement on the 170 Montauk requires engine removal. Break out your wallet but while you’re at it, spend the extra $20 on the Steersman Nut as recommended by Blue Max. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, go ahead and purchase the hydraulic steering but IMO, its way overkill in a ’17 boat with a 90 hp outboard. A more cost effective approach would be to simply keep up on the periodic lubrication of your tilt tube.
Once you install the Steersman though, periodic lubrication will be a snap and your steering will never freeze on you again.
GreatBayNH posted 04-10-2008 09:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH  Send Email to GreatBayNH     
Ok, now you all have me worried. I thought I saw on this site a post that recommended storing the steering arm in the tube for the winter to keep it safe from corrosion. Now I'm thinking that's not such a good idea.
Feejer posted 04-10-2008 10:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Feejer  Send Email to Feejer     
This is all starting to sound pretty crazy. My brother and I owned a down and dirty older Mako CC for 7 years. Greased the steering maybe once a year and NEVER had a problem with the steering system.

I ask again if this is an inherent problem on the Montauk with either the type or certain manufacture they use?

GreatBayNH posted 04-10-2008 10:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH  Send Email to GreatBayNH     
I can already predict the replies will be in the area of "nature of the beast" for this type of steering mechanism. That said, when I have my boat de-commisioned/re-commisioned professionally, every year, they lube and make sure the steering is good to go. I've yet ot touch the steering rod in any way but now I'll be a tad more mindful, to pay special attention thoughout the entire season, that's for darn sure.

Tohsgib posted 04-10-2008 11:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
No siad you greased it once a year, should be good with that. Many people do not grease it at all.
Feejer posted 04-10-2008 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Feejer  Send Email to Feejer     
Thats a bit of a relief....Thanks
L H G posted 04-10-2008 02:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
OK guys, here's the real scoop, from this long time Mercury owner, and although the information is applicable to all engine brand tilt tubes, this is specifically for Mercury powered Whalers. I have used this for 20 years now, and never had a steering ram bind up in the tilt tube, either mechanical steering or side mount hydraulic.

First see my post here (3rd one down):

The basic problem is the design of the Mercury tilt tube. It's fine when the engine is new, but it is INCREASINGLY UNSERVICEABLE WITHOUT REMOVING THE STEERING FROM THE ENGINE, WHICH ALSO MEANS UN-BOLTING THE ENGINE FROM THE BOAT. Nobody EVER does that on a routine basis, and the steering eventually freezes. This applies whether your engine has a regular, or SS, tilt tube, is a 1970 model or 2008 model. Re-greasing regularly also does not work, as explained below.

The problem is that Mercury places the O-ring seal inside the port end of the tilt tube, making it IMPOSSIBLE to replace without pulling the steering ram out of the tube.
With that O-ring in there, the purpose of which is to KEEP THE ORIGINAL GREASE IN, which it does quite well when not worn, also makes it impossible to add new grease. You cannot work it in from the outside. As the O-ring wears out, which it will do in a few years, crud, water, corrosion, etc gets in and the ram freezes or works very hard.

This is why the 1" thread size STEERSMAN grease zerk nut is needed. You can order it directly from thier website. The MAIN thing it does is put the O-ring gasket out on the end of the nut where IT CAN BE EASILY REPLACED. But for it to work properly,


Then, by simply disconnecting the link arm, you can remove the Steersman from the engine, slide it off the steering ram, clean it, and put in a new O-ring. And with the nut off, now you have some play in the ram where it exits the tilt tube, so you can extend it all the way out, keep it clean, and by turning the wheel back and forth many times, bring new CLEAN GREASE back into the tilt tube. Then re-install the Steersman, and use the zerk to create the grease plug behind it. Now you have a steering tilt tube that will last forever if serviced as needed, which will only take 15 minutes or so.

If you are already frozen, I recommend starting fresh with a new SS tilt tube and steering cable.

This works so well, and so smoothly, that I am able to steer my ribside Outrage, with 150 Merc, up to 47 MPH, with standard Teleflx QC steering, the cheapest product they make, with 3.0 turns and without the No-feedback feature. Steering is very easy, with no pull, as long as the engine is the trimmed to the "neutral steering pull" position while running.

This post should become a FAQ here.

TTWhaler posted 04-10-2008 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for TTWhaler  Send Email to TTWhaler     
L H G: So in order for me to install a new steering cable I need to unbolt the motor from the transom?
bigjohn1 posted 04-10-2008 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
TTWhaler, LHG knows what he's talking about in this regard and was the one who originally educated many of us on CW about the Steersman nut.

As I am a fellow owner of a 170 Montauk and was the one who
stated the engine needed removal, let me qualify my comments. I have changed the height of my engine a few times in order to find the perfect mounting height for various props I tried. I once raised the engine up to the fourth hole (one hole down from the uppermost hole). Because of the way the rigging tunnel is situated on the 170 Montauk in relationship to the steering tube on Mercury 4-strokes, if you go any higher than the middle hole with the outboard, it will cuase an unnnatural bend in the steering cable. In my case, it caused wear on the steering cable and eventually harder steering. Due to this, I had to replace the steering cable and lower the engine back down one set of holes (to the middle holes).

The cable will not come out of the steering tube with the engine installed. The steering tube is situated too close to the rigging tunnel entrance and there is not enough room to work there. Not a huge deal though, simply have the dealer do it for you since they have the hoist and proper lifting equipment to do it safely and correctly. I think the labor charge for lowering the engine and replacing the cable was about $95 for me. I'll spend that any day of the week to avoid wrestling with a 400lb, $8,000 outboard which can potentially fall and seriously hurt someone when this procedure is done at home in the garage.

TTWhaler posted 04-13-2008 12:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for TTWhaler  Send Email to TTWhaler     
The only reason why I want to go with a hydraulic kit is because it might be easier for me to install myself. I like to work on the boat myself if possible. Hopefully a hydraulic steering installation DOES NOT involve unbolting the motor from the transom.

If I went with a cable steering, how much in parts would it cost me? Does anyone have the right part numbers for

1) Steering kit
2) Stainless Steel tilt tube

fishinchips posted 04-28-2008 11:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishinchips  Send Email to fishinchips     
So how come some cable steering is sticking while others are not in there montauks?


GreatBayNH posted 04-29-2008 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH  Send Email to GreatBayNH     
Hi Ken,
I'm no expert but I'd have to guess it comes down to differences in use, maintenance (or lack thereof) and possibly the way it's stored for long periods of non-use (aka winter).


swist posted 04-29-2008 01:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Just so I'm absolutely clear - if I install a Steersman nut, it will do no good unless I remove the existing original factory O-ring. Can I do this myself, or must the engine be removed?
GreatBayNH posted 04-29-2008 06:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH  Send Email to GreatBayNH     
I second the question. I'm not clear on that either.
Feejer posted 04-29-2008 07:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Feejer  Send Email to Feejer     
I'll throw my hat in a third the question : )
bigjohn1 posted 04-30-2008 05:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
GreatBayNH posted 05-01-2008 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH  Send Email to GreatBayNH     
Just Yes? Really? Was that a joke?

I'll make it easier for you.

Q: If I install a Steersman nut, will do no good unless I remove the existing original factory O-ring?
A: _______

Q: Can I do this myself?
A: _______

Q: Must the engine be removed? (really the only part I personally was unclear on)
A: _______

Casco Bay Outrage posted 05-01-2008 11:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     

The O ring must be removed.

You can do it yourself.

You do not need to remove the engine from the transom.

bigjohn1 posted 05-02-2008 09:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Take a look at the orientation of the rigging tube (and how the steering cable exits the tube and enters the engine) on the 170 and then compare it to an older Montauk. You have less room to work with on the newer 170 Montauk. The steering cable is not coming out on the 170 Montauk with the engine bolted to the transom. While you can indeed install your new Steersman nut yourself at home from the port side, how is that o-ring going to come off?

In my case, I had my engine height lowered to the middle hole because mounting it in either of the top two holes causes the steering cable to be bent at an un-natural angle. This extreme angle (in my case) caused accelerated cable wear and eventual sticky steering. Since the engine was getting unbolted anyway, I had the dealer install a new cable at the same time but had him leave the o-ring off. I then installed the steersman nut at home myself.

I suppose if you were determined to try this with the engine attached, you could unbolt the helm, remove the cable from the helm, and pull the cable out from the console. It is still going to be a two-man pain in the butt job and may or may not work ultimately. Since most of us do no have overhead hoists in our garages, its much more practical (and safe) to simply have your dealer remove the engine and start with a new cable, leaving the o-ring off the new cable. I think the labor in my case for the steering cable replacement/engine lowering was $95. If the labor cost was $300-$400, perhaps I would have tried it myself.

Note to 170 Montauk owners: If you raise your engine higher than the middle set of mounting holes and you don't have a Steersman nut installed, expect accelerated cable wear. Take a look at how close the rigging tunnel entrance is in relation to your engine.

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