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I've been messing around in the garage on the boat a lot lately.  I've noticed play in my steering wheel for a while now and just attributed it to a worn tiller connection since that happened on a friend's Response of similar vintage last year.  I decided to tighten that up but noticed it was nice and snug.  No play at all.  Hmm... so where's this play coming from?  Turns out, the U joints in the tilt steering assembly had developed a bunch of slop.  That and the steering wheel shaft bearing had developed some play in it.

So for about 150 bucks on Amazon, I ordered one of these.


To replace, it's a pretty simple process.

  1. Remove the steering wheel by locating and removing the large nut holding the wheel on the shaft.  This was the hardest part of the whole job.  The wheel is pressed onto a keyed, tapered shaft.  King Kong tightened mine apparently.  Took some serious pulling on the wheel and smacking of the shaft with a hammer (don't worry about munging the threads, the part is trash anyways).  Like with your prop removal, don't remove the nut all the way in order to prevent blasting yourself in the face with a steering wheel when it lets go.
  2. Remove the rubber boot covering the tilt mechanism.  It slides right off.
  3. Remove the two screws holding the plastic collar in place that the rubber boot anchors against.  It'll pull straight out, but might be slightly sticky around the bottom where the lever rubber cover sits in its channel.  Just give it a pull and it'll come out.
  4. Find that dang rubber cover for the lever that will definitely fall off in step 3.
  5. Tilt the shaft all the way DOWN to give you easiest access to the two allen bolts holding the pinion shaft into the helm socket.
  6. Loosen the allen bolt closest to you and completely remove the distal bolt.
  7. Remove the two large philips head screws holding the tilt helm assembly against the mounting base.
  8. Pull everything straight towards you.
  9. Admire your technical prowess
  10. On the new assembly loosen the allen bolt closest to you
  11. Slide the new assembly into place and reverse the steps above

Haven't taken it on the water yet, but I can tell already the steering is super tight.  Incidentally, they changed the bearing setup in the newer units.  They're no longer crappy ones held in place with a snap ring.  It looks like the new ones are nice sealed press-fit units.  Hopefully they also improved the U joints.

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  • 3 weeks later...


I have a 06 wakesetter 21vlx, my steering wheel has some play in it too.  How do you know it’s the tilt steering assembly, and not the steering cable? Do you recommend replacing the tilt steering assembly before replace the steering cable?  What I’ve read, it sounds like a pain to replace the cable. 


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