Steering issues found by surveyor on Vanikoro

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    We have just had our pre launch insurance survey following major refit and the surveyor reported an issue which requires investigation.
    He reports play in the steering, stiffness of the rudder and movement in the bush on the rudder stock.
    As he advised we have disconnected the steering from the rudder to check how stiff the rudder movement is, it was stiff but improved when it was exercised and the new anti fouling removed from lower fixings where it turns. further improvement was made when oil was applied to the top bush on the emergency steering position.
    Has anyone experienced this and how did you resolve it?
    Incidentally the emergency steering system was totally inadequate for use at sea and the emergency tiller requires re design as you could get no purchase at all on the rudder.
    Does anyone have a design for the emergency tiller I could copy please?
    With the rudder disconnected from the steering mechanism it wa possible to examine the reported play in the steering. There was quite a lot of movement in the bush or collar which connected the two sections of the rudder stock accessed behind the mirror in the aft cabin. The bottom section of the stock is stainless steel and was replaced by the previous owner in mid 2000’s and the top section which goes up to the steering quadrant gearbox in the lazarrette could be original.
    I assume they are joined in an offset key way and the collat keeps the 2 halves together .
    Could anyone confirm that please?
    We intend to remove the collar this week and check fro wear and attempt to rectify this, has anyone done this?
    Finally the original steering mechanism demonstrate wear especially in the final gear box where the centre fitting connection moves about 10mm without moving rudder. The surveyor has recommended if there is undue play in the steering we should consider replacement with a hydraulic system.
    Does anyone have experience of fitting a hydraulic system please?
    It has been a long hard year preparing Vanikoro and hopefully this is the last hurdle.
    Any advice or ideas would be appreciated that may help us launch this season.


    to Graham,
    I read your topic “Steering issues found by surveyor on Vanikoro”.
    You are asking if it would be necesary to replace the existing system by an hydraulic one, as suggested by our surveyor!
    The C&N original system is a very good one: it is mecanical ( no oil leak to be afraid of, and better than a cable system with abrasion on the pulley and hazard of rupture) and as strong as a car movement transmission. It would be a pity to change this!
    The only problem of “play in the steering” (not dangerous indeed)is due to the fact that every “cardan joint” of the transmission take “play” with time and that the addition of these “micro-plays” could make a relatively important “total play”.The solution is very simple and cheap: it consists in replacement of all small “croisillons de cardan”( “crosspiece” in English?)all along the steering shaft*; I do that in 1994 with a car mecanic for 60€ with a very good result.
    An other problem is possibly to check the fixation on the hull ( on the vault) of the last
    support (with a gear-box) of this ” steering shaft” before the lever (“crowbar”?)which support important strain. This is accessible under the aft-cabin bassin ( not necessary to dismantle the mirror!)and to be made by stratification with polyester resin.
    * the problem, I agree, is to open this shaft on his all run, particularly under the aft-berth!
    Please, Graham, do that by our-self and do not make unreasonnable expenses!

    Jean-Claude Limasset,previous owner of “Vanikoro” ( number 3 of the serie).

    P.S.: an other point:It is not truth that the emergency steering system is inadequate; you have in the head cabin , on starboard chest an emergency steering bar which is adaptable on the “carré” of the steering shaft by a hatch in the desk, behind the mizzen mast. Of course, you have to steer in an inhabitual way, but it is only for emergency!

    Arild Jaeger


    On “Far Out” I have found there is some “play” in the steering gearbox just in front of the autopilot (near the bottom of the boat in the cockpit area).

    Anyone who has disassembled one of these?



    Graham, We are currently going through the same trials. We have removed all of the steering system from stock to wheel, as well as the rudder top hat bearing at the bottom of the rudder. Here are the steps we are taking to service/repair. Any other suggestions would be welcome.

    1. Removed rudder heel fitting by unscrewing 7 x Stainless screws. Used a soft mallet and a wooden wedge to knock the fitting downwards once screws were removed. The gunmetal heel fitting with the pintal came away and the bronze top had bearing fell free – it looked as though it had been seated in the bottom of the rudder in a bed of sikerflex or similar. We gave the heel fitting and the old bronze top hat bearing to a precision engineer who machined a new one to fit, without the play. We did not need to drop the rudder to do this as the upper bearing did not appear to exhibit much play and did not need service.

    2. We removed the bronze rudder stock – and steering linkages, accessed by removing the panels from the aft fender locker. The bronze rudder stock was relatively simple to remove. The shaft is spit just above where the stock comes into the hull and joined with a key way – that fitting came apart when we undid the bolts. I think I unscrewed the linkage from the steering box, the base stepped sideways once the key way fitting had been removed and the stock dropped downwards. It will be necessary for us to have a new tiller arm made as this was crumbling away with rust – I have a hand drawing to match the old if anyone wants me to send ( Incidentally, the water ingress that caused the corrosion had come through the screw hatch for the emergency steering gear – it might be prudent to use ptfe tape, or grease on this to ensure there is no future water ingress.

    3. We removed the Steering Box which had excessive play in the top bearing. It had been corroded by water pooling on the top of the lid – We might employ some sort of deflector to prevent that in future. My dad was kind enough to service the steering box for me – he replaced the perished top bearing and seal, however due to the corrosion on the shaft, he skimmed the surface on a lathe and replaced the rubber seal for a slightly smaller one. The lower bearings and components were all soundly submerged in oil and needed no service after 40 years action! This was surprising given the initial appearance of the steering box. Again if more info on this is needed I’ll have to ask him. Let me know if needed ( Dad had commented on the good design of the box because the water that had leaked in through the perished seal pooled in a recess at the bottom out of harms way.

    4. Some of the universal joints were badly rusted, but there was no sign of play. I’m in half a mind to re-instate them as is, but the part that worries me is the circlips which are almost completely corroded away. If I dismantle them to clean, re-paint and re-instate there is a chance the circlip groves not be usable. Because they are welded I am trying to find like for like UJ’s so I can get the old ones cut off, and new ones welded on. Has anyone serviced these before? As for the forward steering boxes, ours look quite good so not planning to touch those (I think).


    Thanks for your reply which is helpful and I will study it and see if it enables us to progress.We are lucky as we don’t have your corrosion issues and I believe our problems are the stiff rudder, sloopy join between the upper and lower rudder stock and excessive play in the steering box.
    DOES ANY OWNER KNOW HOW EASILY THE RUDDER SHOULD MOVE?ours is disconnected from the steering system and the top section of the rudder stock and is still stiff.
    We are trying to loosen it up.
    Currently we are trying to remove the steering box, any details you have of this would be really helpful.
    will keep you posted on progress.
    best wishes, Graham

    Ronar M

    Hi Graham. I presume you are talking about the steering box in the lazarette. I took this out of Ronar M a few years ago and had it refurbished. It was not the Mathway one but the other make(Forman?). Mathway quoted a fortune to do the work so I got my local garage to dismantle it (take the top off) and a local engineering firm to replace the bearings etc. The most important thing apart from the new bearings was a new 2 way oil seal in the top – the original was only ‘one way’ and allowed the ingress of water when it started to get worn. The whole job cost only about 25% of what Mathway quoted,
    The worst bit was removing it from the boat. You can get at it from he after cabin – under the port side bunk where there is an opening. Undo the steering shaft and withdraw it. You can then get at the nuts which hold it in place. I seem to remember that two of the bolts faced upwards and two downwards. The upward ones were more difficult as they kept spinning round. I taped a spanner to the end of a length of wood and got my wife to hold that on the bolt head through the door beneath the sink in the after cabin. Once the bolts are undone it’s still a heavy job to lift the gearbox out – I put a tackle on the mizzen boom and lifted it that way. Good luck, Trevor
    ps One word of warning. Make sure you lash the wheel and mark up the position of the shaft joints. I didn’t do this and found the autohelm would not work properly once it was all back together. A good engineer I know sorted it by re-setting the limit switches on the old Neco autohelm but he had to drill a large hole through from the deep locker beside the galley sink to get at them.

    Ronar M

    Hi Graham. Me again. I’ve just noticed that you keep Vanikoro at Salcombe. Ronar M is at Torpoint, Plymouth, so if you want to meet up sometime, let me know.
    Cheers, Trevor

    Ronar M

    Hi Graham. I’ve remembered another hassle since writing the above. Detaching the drag link from the stub-tiller on the gearbox was also difficult – it’s a tapered spindle (I think it’s a Land Rover track rod end). I first took off the nut (of course) and then put a stout beam across the hatchway before looping a rachet-type webbing strap over the beam and under the drag link. When this was tight I gave the stub-tiller a sharp tap with a hammer and the joint came apart. Hopefully this will work for you. Cheers, Trevor


    It’s been some time since the above was posted by others, but now we are undertaking cleaning up the steering gear reduction box just before the stub tiller arm. I agree with all said above, except –

    To separate the ball joint from the stub-tiller arm, use a 3-jaw puller. With the crown nut removed, you can get the jaws positioned on the stub-tiller, and then push that taper out of the stub-tiller arm with the puller. This approach offers less chance to damage gears by hammering on things.

    We used a 3″ puller similar to this one. It also worked to remove the arm from the top of the gear box.

    I’ll add other bits of the saga as we go to the other posting I started about backlash.


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