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Thread: Wheel to tiller conversion and electrification

  1. #1
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    Default Wheel to tiller conversion and electrification

    For the last few years I have contemplated removing my steering pedestal and all the gear and going to a tiller by extending the rudder stock through the transom deck and installing an appropriate tiller.

    I have increasingly found the wheel to be more of a hindrance than a help, especially as I get older and less flexible. It is hard to move around it to go forward with my cockpit design and the ability to access sheets etc is restricted. The only real value it has is something to hold onto and something to put instruments on. There are many alternatives in that regard.

    My boat already has a port in the deck for the emergency tiller and I think the extension of the rudder stock to deck level, about 36 inches, should be doable easily enough. But I have not been able to get a handle on the method by which the rudder stock is supported and sealed as it emerges from the deck. I realize there is a flange there and that it must be waterproof or close to it, but what do you call this thing and where would one buy it?

    Is there a significant downside to such a mod? I don't care about the boat's resale value, it is a lifetime boat for me and I just want it my way. I have a interior linear drive for the AP with tiller arm attached to the rudder stock so no changes necessary with that. I would appreciate any thoughts anyone might have.

    I am also sick and tired of my diesel. I could fill the page with why, but I'll save you the long story of woe. A fellow in Seattle has converted his Freedom 30 to electric and loves it despite the decrease in range, although it is not that bad surprisingly. I am contemplating doing both projects at the same time since the electrification would impact the pedestal configuration with regard to motor controls and battery installation options down below. If I got rid of the engine, the tank, fuel, hoses, the pedestal and all the various associated bits, I would loose enough weight to offset the electric motor and a pretty decent set of Lipo4 batteries.

    Constructive thoughts anyone? I know I am crazy so you can save that post.

  2. #2
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    What currently prevents the rudder stock from a) falling out the bottom of the boat, and b) rising up into the hull? Whatever that mechanism is you might want to keep it.

    To hold the rudder stock in position you'd put a bearing at deck level and a stuffing box above the bearing to keep the interior of the boat dry. That's a stuffing box just like you'd have on a prop shaft. You might want to remove the current upper bearing - it's difficult to keep 3 bearings in alignment as the shaft bends, much easier to let two bearings do the work and let the shaft bend in between. Which brings up a significant point - is the existing rudder stock sufficiently stiff to handle an increased distance between bearings?

    Rudder stuffing boxes from Edson:
    https://edsonmarine.com/products/sai...-stuffing-box/

    For the electric stuff, definitely talk with Greg - SoloSailor, he will have experience with this stuff.

    - rob/beetle

  3. #3
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    Kudos for considering tiller steering. I don't think I could own a sailboat with a wheel, especially for singlehanding.

    Re electric propulsion, J Boats was pushing these for awhile. I looked into getting one for Ragtime!

    https://oceanvolt.com/solutions/private/monohull/

  4. #4
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    I'm not a fan of wheels; I like to sit forward under the dodger.
    So I say rock on with that conversion.

    Now that I have a good mechanic and Berkeley Marine Center's non stinky synthetic diesel, I'd save my money there, and stay with my 2GM.

    We're all crazy on this bus.
    Last edited by Intermission; 04-12-2020 at 06:54 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Intermission View Post
    I'm not a fan of wheels; I like to sit forward under the dodger.
    So I say rock on with that conversion.

    Now that I have a good mechanic and Berkeley Marine Center's non stinky synthetic diesel, I'd save my money there, and stay with my 2GM.

    We're all crazy on this bus.
    Berkley Marine Center's non stinky diesel? What's the deal with that? Sounds very interesting.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiger beetle View Post
    What currently prevents the rudder stock from a) falling out the bottom of the boat, and b) rising up into the hull? Whatever that mechanism is you might want to keep it.

    To hold the rudder stock in position you'd put a bearing at deck level and a stuffing box above the bearing to keep the interior of the boat dry. That's a stuffing box just like you'd have on a prop shaft. You might want to remove the current upper bearing - it's difficult to keep 3 bearings in alignment as the shaft bends, much easier to let two bearings do the work and let the shaft bend in between. Which brings up a significant point - is the existing rudder stock sufficiently stiff to handle an increased distance between bearings?

    Rudder stuffing boxes from Edson:
    https://edsonmarine.com/products/sai...-stuffing-box/

    For the electric stuff, definitely talk with Greg - SoloSailor, he will have experience with this stuff.

    - rob/beetle
    Rob, good points for me to think about. I will post a picture of the rudder stock. Freedoms have a really beefy rudder tube which rises about 18 inches within the boat. Well above the waterline. There is no stuffing box. The top and bottom of the tube contain upper and lower bearings. The rudder stock rises about six inches above the tube. There is enough room to attach my AP tiller arm in there and ,of course, the quadrant. But your question re what keeps the rudder in the boat is a good one. I am not sure which bit actually prevents the rudder from falling out. Certainly my tiller arm would prevent this but I would not want the tiller arm bearing on the top of the rudder post tube. I have not been in there for about a year so i need to go down and refresh my memory as to how it is set up.

  7. #7
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    pogen is offline Sailing canoe "Kūʻaupaʻa"
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiger beetle View Post
    What currently prevents the rudder stock from a) falling out the bottom of the boat, and b) rising up into the hull? Whatever that mechanism is you might want to keep it.

    To hold the rudder stock in position you'd put a bearing at deck level and a stuffing box above the bearing to keep the interior of the boat dry. That's a stuffing box just like you'd have on a prop shaft. You might want to remove the current upper bearing - it's difficult to keep 3 bearings in alignment as the shaft bends, much easier to let two bearings do the work and let the shaft bend in between. Which brings up a significant point - is the existing rudder stock sufficiently stiff to handle an increased distance between bearings?

    Rudder stuffing boxes from Edson:
    https://edsonmarine.com/products/sai...-stuffing-box/

    For the electric stuff, definitely talk with Greg - SoloSailor, he will have experience with this stuff.

    - rob/beetle
    My old boat was a wheel to tiller conversion, the shaft tube top was barely above the waterline. The lower bearing is flooded. The solution was to make a sock out of neoprene that sealed at the shaft tube/bearing housing and up to the rudder stock itself (it was tapered) and to seal it with large hose clamps at each end. The whole thing twisted as the tiller was turned. I think this was a creative solution by the boatyard that did the original conversion, because when it came time to replace it (at Svend's) no one had any idea what it was or how to replace it, so I had to find a lady in Monterrey that did wetsuit repair to fabricate a new one for me.

  8. #8
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    Sounds like folks think the tiller conversion is a good idea. I could probably do that for almost no dollars if I sold the steering gear for a few bucks.

  9. #9
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    SSS members Rick Elkins (LIGHTSPEED, Wylie 39) and Steve Hodges (FROLIC, Islander 36) both have experience converting from wheel to tiller. Im sure theyd be happy to share their experiences.
    Tom P.

  10. #10
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    [QUOTE=pogen;26014]My old boat was a wheel to tiller conversion, the shaft tube top was barely above the waterline. The lower bearing is flooded. The solution was to make a sock out of neoprene that sealed at the shaft tube/bearing housing and up to the rudder stock itself (it was tapered) and to seal it with large hose clamps at each end. The whole thing twisted as the tiller was turned. I think this was a creative solution by the boatyard that did the original conversion, because when it came time to replace it (at Svend's) no one had any idea what it was or how to replace it, so I had to find a lady in Monterrey that did wetsuit repair to fabricate a new one for me.[/QUOT


    So there was no bearing or flange at the deck other than the neoprene boot? Boy, something like that would be pretty simple. Basically the emergency tiller on steroids in my case. I am not sure it would be wise for me to have a 36 inch unsupported shaft from the top of the existing stock to the aperture on the transom though.

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