Boating Tips

Maintenance on your boat steering

Most inboard or outboard fishing or skiboats use similar steering systems be it cable or single push/pull type.
In the advent of steering failure the consequences can often be a serious nature and cause injury to either the occupants or others in close proximity.
With outboard boats total steering failure at speed most probably will cause the motor to swing violently to one side.
Inboard boats however with total loss will most likely go straight ahead as having a fixed propeller position it will straight line the rudder if you let the steering wheel go.
Annual inspections of all the steering system by someone qualified certainly wouldn't be a waste of time.
We don't recommend the use of plastic covered steering cable as with use and age they are prone for the plastic to crack and let water in and in turn may rust out the lightweight steel rope inside.
The outer alloy tube on drum type steering sometimes breaks around the flange letting the wheel assembly become loose as also with the large locking nut coming loose at the rear creating unneeded movement. 
Some lightweight push/pull steering systems with use are prone to partial strip the alloy drum in the helm section which becomes noticeable when steering fails in one direction only.
Often these types and others use a nylon clamping method to hold the outer cable at the rear.This system comprises of 2 half clamps over a fixed steel ball and will crack and break over a period of time. This is very common so watch out if this applies in your boat as it will cause total steering failure.

Some problems areas to watch for:
  • Loose steering wheel
  • Loose steering  cable
  • Tight push/pull steering
  • Loose rudder sideways
  • Rudder turning past 45%
  • Nylon half clamps
  • Anchorage point for pulleys

The above info is only personal views put forward to assist fishing/skiboat owners from Bob at R & M Precision Marine