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FastFreddy

Boat hard to steer, found bearings in bilge area

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FastFreddy

I bought a used 2005 boat. The boat has been hard to steer since I got it so I lubed the rudder and it seemed to help a little. Boat steering is light and easy when there is no load but once on the go the steering is a two handed operation. This fall I was vacuuming the bilge and found multiple small metal balls like ones found in a bearing. Is it possible those came out of the rudder bracket (whatever that's called) and that's maybe why the boat is very hard to steer under load???

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robtr8

You probably need to replace the rudder stock.  Grab the rudder blade and see if you can wiggle it side to side.  There should be no play.

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wdr

There are no bearings in the rudder assembly or steering cable. Probably in the steering wheel hub, but I would be willing to be that your drivers seats is extremely hard to slide forward and backwards and is missing some of the track balls, pretty common on the older slider track seats. The rudder sits in the housing and uses 2 inner rubber seals and an upper plastic positioning insert, pretty durable especially if you grease the hub using the factory zert. Some don’t have the fitting, my ‘10 doesn’t. I seem to remember some of the guys with that era boats have replaced the steering cables with very good results. I am sure they will chime in here soon enough.

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FastFreddy

Yes the rudder is tight side to side front to back, there is no wiggle in the rudder. Sounds like I'll try adding more grease to the factory zert, if that doesn't do it a cable is on my list. I read someone had some luck lubing the cable with ATF. might try that too. 

The seat is VERY hard to slide, that makes sense for the ball bearings. I never like seeing loose parts in the bilge and I couldn't figure out where bearings would be used. Thanks!

 

 

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justgary

Before you add more grease to the rudder, disconnect the cable to see if it is the rudder or the cable.  Move the rudder by hand to see how easily it moves, then turn the wheel and see if it is still bound up.  My bet is on the cable.  While you are at it, disconnect the cable from the helm also, just to make sure that it is the cable and not something wrong with the helm (which is less likely, but possible).  

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formulaben

Be careful over-greasing the rudder zerks.  You can blow out an O-ring and then the steering could get even stiffer.

Like Gary, my bet is the rudder cable.  If the end of the cable sleeve in the bilge gets wet, it will draw in water and gunk and then gets stiff.  Not a whole lot you can do about it except replace the cable.  Not a huge job, but a pain to remove the tiller bolt without an extra set of hands. 

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robtr8

The thing that made me think it was the rudder stock was that it’s heavy under load but easy otherwise.  My buddy’s echelon exhibited similar problems.  When driving out of and back into the course, it was really hard to unwind the turn.  We replaced the cable and it did help but after we replaced the rudder stock, it solved the issue.

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formulaben

What's a rudder stock?  I'm assuming you're talking about the rudder assembly? 

For that year I'm pretty certain your rudder assembly has a teflon bushing/bearing and a couple O-rings/grease seals.  Don't think I've ever heard of the bearing wearing out but have read of blowing out the O-rings due to too much grease.  If you need it, Marine Hardware had a "rebuild kit" for the rudder assembly. 

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BlackBluMalibu

Rudder could have taken a strike and shaft may be slightly bent.  Can you take a picture of the rudder keeping the camera angle parallel to the top of the rudder where the post exits the rudder fin.  it should be equal-distance in the front and in the rear from the bottom rudder mounting bracket/base.  see rudder assembly in link...   https://goo.gl/images/FjM1ko    

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wdr
2 hours ago, BlackBluMalibu said:

Rudder could have taken a strike and shaft may be slightly bent.  Can you take a picture of the rudder keeping the camera angle parallel to the top of the rudder where the post exits the rudder fin.  it should be equal-distance in the front and in the rear from the bottom rudder mounting bracket/base.  see rudder assembly in link...   https://goo.gl/images/FjM1ko    

When I had to replace my rudder it was bent over 1/2” off of axis and it still spun like it was new. The cable is the most likely culprit.

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robtr8
NHolladay
23 hours ago, justgary said:

Before you add more grease to the rudder, disconnect the cable to see if it is the rudder or the cable.  Move the rudder by hand to see how easily it moves, then turn the wheel and see if it is still bound up.  My bet is on the cable.  While you are at it, disconnect the cable from the helm also, just to make sure that it is the cable and not something wrong with the helm (which is less likely, but possible).  

I bet cable too.  May have a grease fitting on the cable that can lube the cable inside thw sheathing

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justgary

Turns out, steering cables have no appreciation at all water intrusion.  Who would have thunk it.

I'll just throw out this story for discussion since it kind of applies here:  Back in the day a couple of guys around these parts make themselves a cottage industry by creating a jig that they would hook to the end of your steering cable and force light oil (possibly even transmission fluid) through the cable to rejuvenate it.  They had their best success with cables that weren't completely locked up, since they could still move the cable to encourage the fluid to move to the other end.  I don't know what kind of pressure they had to apply to the fluid, but they saved many a cable that way.  I don't know what happened to them, but it seemed like they were busy guys.  Maybe the offshore boats these days have boots on the cables so the salt water doesn't just gush in with every wave. 

We quickly figured out that we could save cables that would still move by pulling the rudder end out as far as we could and then shooting a lot of light oil (WD-40, etc) into the sheath, then working the cable back and forth for quite a while.  It also helps to shoot the helm end, but the main issue is the rudder end.  The trick is to get enough oil in there to completely wet everything inside the sheath.  That's harder to do on some cables than others.  I have also saved cables that were completely stuck (to the point that I had to pound on the rudder end with a large hammer to get any motion at all.

If you didn't mind pulling the cable, you could just soak it for a week in a tub of light oil, get it moving, and then put it back.  Usually the best way to pull a cable back in is by using the old cable as it comes out, so we never tried that. 

Anyway, I don't see why letting your boat fill with water on a regular basis is any sort of a good idea.  If you have some sort of issue that allows a lot of water in the boat, that's one thing (and you should immediately spray the engine, transmission, and steering cable with light oil), but to have it happen regularly due to poor seamanship is quite another.  Keep your bilge as dry as possible!

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Rednucleus

My buddy's 03 Sunsetter was hard to steer last year at speed; felt normal sitting still. He unhooked cable at rudder, added some tranny fluid and tied cable end up so fluid would run down.  Went out a few times a day and turned wheel end to end. After a week it felt pretty good and we have used it all year. It is getting stiff again so probably not a long term fix for you.

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