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Tight Steering

Sep 14, 2021
Gulfstar Aux. 36 St. Inigoes Creek
Good morning. My Merriman pedestal steering has become very tight.
I am looking for help with diagnoistics to determine the cause.
I am also looking for any videos or manuals that would describe the process of servicing and or replacing the steering parts.
Any help would be appreciated.


Jul 24, 2005
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
I just helped move a boat to winter storage yesterday, exhibiting the same problem. Seering effort was unusually high. The owner said it happened gradually over time, and he suspected that the cause was a failing bushing or bearing in the rudder post. His plan was to verify further and probably drop the rudder in the spring to replace. His was an Edson system and it didn’t seem likely that it was a problem at the wheel, but possible.
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Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Welcome to the SBO Forum.

I’d start by looking at the cables, sheaves and quadrant. My Merriman pedestal has zerk fittings and I pump lube into the bearings each year as part of commissioning at the start of the season.

You may have a seized sheave, a cable override of a sheave, or something rubbing/blocking the quadrant limiting free movement.

If the In water inspection fails to disclose the issue, you will need to haul the boat and inspect the rudder. Not seen the rudder on a Gulfstar. I’d inspect for play, rubbing on the hull, alignment, and possibly damage.

If all looks good or your not sure what to look for, you may need to call out the specialist to help.
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Feb 11, 2017
former Tartan 30 New London, CT area
jssailem has the right idea. Find the problem then address it. I'd start by disconnecting the steering from the quadrant. Does the rudder turn freely? Does the wheel turn freely? Let us know what you find.
My guess it that you'll find the wheel is tight. Likely corrosion between the pedestal and the bearings has made the bearings tight. If so, you'll have to remove the wheel, shaft, and bearings and clean up the corrosion. Shaft and bearing are likely fine - just a lot of labor to correct the issue.


Aug 18, 2015
West Marine Kayak Tampa Bay
I had this problem on our 1983 H31. It developed somewhat gradually, and at an inopportune time it suddenly got much worse. I had to stop, secure the boat, and start troubleshooting. After taking the binnacle apart, inspecting and lubing ALL the parts of the steering system from both above and below, nothing changed. So I took the belt off the autopilot, and the wheel moved freely. Some online research divulged that the belt was known to bind when aged. I was even able to find a 20+ year old service note from the manufacturer.

Check your autopilot system. Starting with that may involve less effort than taking apart the binnacle.