Steering Failure!

rukidn

.
Apr 23, 2012
158
Catalina 310 258 Sandusky, OH
We were pointing hard yesterday on our way to anchor overnight at Kellys Island. When we tacked we had sudden steering failure. We got the sails furled and down quickly and were lucky to be in open, deep water. We immediately deployed the emergency tiller, but before motoring back to our marina, I removed the compass to see the steering chain lying at the bottom of the pedestal below the frayed cable.

I suggest all find and test their emergency tiller. There is quite a bit of backlash in the emergency tiller and it is quite a challenge to control the boat well. The loose tiller allowed the rudder to flip back and forth so the steering inputs were constant for 12 miles. We removed the wheel to make more room for the tiller. We managed to dock cleanly and I immediately tore into the pedestal. One cable failed and the other was frayed at the same position below the chain. I've never looked down into this area previously, but it seems like the cables were scrubbing against each other. Has anyone seen this?

Cables look fairly easy to build a new set and replace. 3/16 7X19 stainless cable. Edson and Catalina Direct sell full assembly pairs, but they are pricey. Anyone rebuilt their cables? I'll update when repairs are completed.

IMG_2211.jpgIMG_2210.jpg
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,429
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
I've inspected my cables and chain drive in the past but will add it to my annual inspection list! Thanks. I you find out a little more on the "why it frayed" that would be helpful and keep us posted on that.

Its a good thing it happened when you were in open water and had space to drop the sails and retrieve/rig the emergency tiller. I'll have to get mine out and make sure everything works as designed. Thanks for the heads up.
 
Nov 18, 2010
2,441
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
We were pointing hard yesterday on our way to anchor overnight at Kellys Island. When we tacked we had sudden steering failure. We got the sails furled and down quickly and were lucky to be in open, deep water. We immediately deployed the emergency tiller, but before motoring back to our marina, I removed the compass to see the steering chain lying at the bottom of the pedestal below the frayed cable.

I suggest all find and test their emergency tiller. There is quite a bit of backlash in the emergency tiller and it is quite a challenge to control the boat well. The loose tiller allowed the rudder to flip back and forth so the steering inputs were constant for 12 miles. We removed the wheel to make more room for the tiller. We managed to dock cleanly and I immediately tore into the pedestal. One cable failed and the other was frayed at the same position below the chain. I've never looked down into this area previously, but it seems like the cables were scrubbing against each other. Has anyone seen this?

Cables look fairly easy to build a new set and replace. 3/16 7X19 stainless cable. Edson and Catalina Direct sell full assembly pairs, but they are pricey. Anyone rebuilt their cables? I'll update when repairs are completed.

View attachment 169462View attachment 169463
yup. I wrote this post 4 years ago. Edson recommends annual inspection of the steering system. The Neglected Steering System

Personally I didn't find the Catalina Direct price to be too high. It's $310 for the cable and chain. But I am sure any rigger can replace the wire
 

Ward H

.
Nov 7, 2011
3,123
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I just replaced the cable in chain on my C30. Just under $300 for the wire and chain.
On my pedestal the turning sheaves appear to be offset to prevent the cables from hitting each other where they cross in the pedestal. You might want to check them to ensure they have not bent or worn in someway. Some of the turning sheave setups can be adjusted for alignment. I do not know if that includes alignment to ensure the proper spacing between the cables.

I suggest a call to Edson. They were very helpful in explaining in detail how to change out the steering wire and chain.

I used a WiFi endoscope camera connected to my iPhone to inspect and take pictures of the areas I could not readily see. $35 from Amazon.
 
Aug 21, 2019
109
Catalina 315 18 Grosse Pointe Park, MI
A local shop rebuilt my cable (for my former boat) for less that $100. The cable arrangement looked very similar to yours. He swaged a new 3/16 cable to the old chain. That was quite a bit less than the ~$300 Edson wanted.
 
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Oct 3, 2011
787
Anam Cara Catalina 310 Hull #155 155 Lake Erie/Catawba Island
Glad you both got back safely!
Another adventure to talk about over the winter!!!
We check ours annually and are getting ready to haul out-yes it is that time :(, We will check over ours again
Thanks
 

JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,970
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
I'm curious to understand tiller backlash term. Was there excess slope at the connection or pivot? I messed with mine a bit but never under way or under stress, I'll add it to our next drift fest sail for sure.
 
Oct 29, 2016
1,807
Hunter 41 DS Port Huron
I'm curious to understand tiller backlash term. Was there excess slope at the connection or pivot? I messed with mine a bit but never under way or under stress, I'll add it to our next drift fest sail for sure.
I am not certain testing the emergency tiller while the rest of the steering hardware is in tact will tell you anything if it works at all, I know on our boat the steering from the pedestal to the rudder is a link arm, which makes it near impossible to use the emergency tiller when the arm is connected. I would imagine the same would be true for a cable system.
 
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jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
One nice feature of having a below deck autopilot - you get an extra e-tiller that’s easy to use.
Les, I've often thought of this - designing and making a servo system, with a shaft encoder on the wheel, so that if the steering gear fails, I can still steer the boat using the wheel via the autopilot linear actuator.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,725
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
Glad you came in without further mishaps.
In Spring 2018 I was crewing a boat on a trip from from Miami to CT, and it was 1AM in 15-20 knot winds and 5-foot seas when we lost the steering. We were 40 miles out in the Atlantic SE from the Cape Fear River entrance. Fortunately we had fair weather and an emergency tiller (which I had test-fit on a sister boat on a prior accasion), and 4 crew to switch off helm duty (30-minute shifts were tiresome). We entered the Cape Fear River at about 0:700 and safely found a transient dock space.
The cable had jumped a sheave and wore on the sheave box. See image. Check your cable tension, too. (The string is a messenger line.)
sheave.jpeg
 
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Oct 29, 2016
1,807
Hunter 41 DS Port Huron
Les, I've often thought of this - designing and making a servo system, with a shaft encoder on the wheel, so that if the steering gear fails, I can still steer the boat using the wheel via the autopilot linear actuator.
Raymarine has already done that, turn the knob and the boat turns
autopilot.JPG
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,725
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
Wow. The steering didn't feel odd while that was going on?
We were using the autopilot (which would give up once in a while due to excessive weather helm) . LOL there’s a backstory on that but not for here.
 
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jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks Larry. I understand. If someone else is responsible or sail trim I bite my tongue, unless it's gets dangerous.

Curious, what autopilot, and what was the "give up" symptom?
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,725
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
Raymarine. Overload and it would give a vague error message and beep. I think it said “no drive” or something like that.
 
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Oct 29, 2016
1,807
Hunter 41 DS Port Huron
Cool. Is it just like a wheel?

Mine I have to push buttons.



My understanding is that the heads with the knobs (Simrad has one) are intended or powerboats. Don't know why.
Yes much like the wheel but not as responsive.
 
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rukidn

.
Apr 23, 2012
158
Catalina 310 258 Sandusky, OH
I'm curious to understand tiller backlash term. Was there excess slope at the connection or pivot? I messed with mine a bit but never under way or under stress, I'll add it to our next drift fest sail for sure.
Backlash = slop , meaning I could move the tiller handle end 4-5" before moving the rudder. Likewise, the rudder could move where it wanted before I felt it. Very tiring for 2 hours... It may have been easier with some sail up.

Thank you all for your inputs. I had given mine a check over from back and below cockpit in Spring, but apparently didn't look deep enough. The pan under the linkage (over berth) was full of cable wire bits that were definitely not there in the Spring.

One thing I didn't mention is that I had one of the four screws holding the compass mount and upper pedestal together was (still is frozen). I had to drill off the head to get the unit apart. While drilling, nylon washer and compass mount started to soften due to the heat. Something to keep in mind...go slow. Lesson: If I had pulled this apart once and a while, screw likely wouldn't have frozen. I'm hoping the PB Blaster bath will help by next weekend.