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Steering Issue - Malibu Resonse


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Recently had my entire running gear replaced and since then the steering is just not the same.  It’s a 2012 Malibu Response Txi. The symptom is simple: when the steering wheel is in the centered position the boat pulls strong to the right. Driver has to turn the wheel about 3/4 turn to the left to center the boat which is not the way it was before the running gear was replaced. I don’t know much about the steering system aboard the boat. Does this sound like something simple that the mechanic may have not gotten put together correctly when he replaced the rudder or something else? Any advice? The closest mechanic is 90 minute drive away and I want to make sure I have some idea what May need to happen before I drive over there. Thanks sO much for any help guys!! 

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11 hours ago, Bradskis said:

Does this sound like something simple that the mechanic may have not gotten put together correctly when he replaced the rudder or something else?

I can't say for sure what steering system you have, but if you have the 4 bolts on the steering rack similar to the link below, then here is how you fix it:

Steering wheel alignment: when out on the water and in a safe spot, drive straight at about 25MPH. When up to speed note the position of the steering wheel (use tape if to mark position if necessary.)  Hold the steering wheel so that you keep going straight (do not turn).  Stop the boat and turn off.  Remove the steering rack on the back side of the steering wheel (typically 4 bolts.)  Once the box is removed, turn steering wheel straight (or to desired position) and reassemble.

http://www.seastarsolutions.com/products/mechanical-steering/hps-rack-pinion-steering/

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The boat is supposed to pull right at ski speeds so that it doesn't hunt when going straight.

If you just had the rudder changed, check to see if the new one has a trim tab.  If it does, you can move it to set the steering preload that you like.  Move it in the direction of too much pull; in your case, move starboard since you have too much preload.  Move the tab in tiny increments, like 0.01" each trial.

Rudders without tabs can be adjusted by filing.

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As @justgary noted the trim tab may be your issue.  Malibu rudders have a patented trim tab to adjust the amount of rudder torque you have, which is desirable to improve control driving straight in a slalom course.  Adjust the tab to your desired amount, since Malibu's are left hand rotation props, you want some torque steer to the right. 

Before you get to your desired rudder tab setting, I would want to do a little investigative work since the running gear has been replaced.  The comment of needing 3/4 of a turn (assuming you do mean a 270 degree rotation of the steering wheel) sounds like there is something more than a simple rudder tab adjustment needed.   With an extra pair of hands you can hold the rudder still and rock the wheel to see how much play is in the system.  If more than a very small amount, finding the source is the first task.  Once that is determined to be okay,  I would document the current rudder tab position, set it to neutral and drive the boat to make sure it tracks reasonably well.  If that test passes, then tune to your taste.  In addition, I would search out the mechanic and ask whether the tab was set, or how it was set.

Given the combination of amiss steering and a complete running gear replacement I would be checking engine alignment if that has not been done.  Engine alignment is sensitive to prop shaft strut installation / position.

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Thanks everyone this is very helpful. I understand some preload is supposed to be there but what I’m experiencing is extreme (270 degrees of steering wheel turn just to go straight). I did adjust the trim tab last month and was unable to get any improvement.  I’ll explore these items mentioned. Thanks again!

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7 hours ago, Woodski said:

As @justgary noted the trim tab may be your issue.  Malibu rudders have a patented trim tab to adjust the amount of rudder torque you have, which is desirable to improve control driving straight in a slalom course.  Adjust the tab to your desired amount, since Malibu's are left hand rotation props, you want some torque steer to the right. 

Before you get to your desired rudder tab setting, I would want to do a little investigative work since the running gear has been replaced.  The comment of needing 3/4 of a turn (assuming you do mean a 270 degree rotation of the steering wheel) sounds like there is something more than a simple rudder tab adjustment needed.   With an extra pair of hands you can hold the rudder still and rock the wheel to see how much play is in the system.  If more than a very small amount, finding the source is the first task.  Once that is determined to be okay,  I would document the current rudder tab position, set it to neutral and drive the boat to make sure it tracks reasonably well.  If that test passes, then tune to your taste.  In addition, I would search out the mechanic and ask whether the tab was set, or how it was set.

Given the combination of amiss steering and a complete running gear replacement I would be checking engine alignment if that has not been done.  Engine alignment is sensitive to prop shaft strut installation / position.

When you say “engine alignment” Are you suggesting that when the mechanic replaced the running gear he may have left the engine position shifted?? He did have to replace everything from shaft to prop, rudder, gave it dripless packing, new fuel pump, and replaced a tracking fin that was ripped off by the log I hit. So there was a lot done to the boat by the mechanic. 

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@Bradskis - on the engine alignment question, no on moving engine by the mechanic or, the hit may have shifted the engine given your description. .  What does happen is no matter how hard you try that strut probably did not end up exactly where the old one was hence the engine alignment is simply part of the process to make sure all is good.   

As you describe more it sounds like there is something significant amiss.  I wonder if there isn't something in the tracking system (tracking fins, strut, rudder) that is out of line.  Assuming your steering system is working and slack free, there is no reason it should take that much rudder angulation (3/4 turn of wheel) to achieve a straight path.  High torque rudder grinds / tab adjustments take a lot of effort but not that much steering angle.  It sounds to me like there is an incorrect offset in either the prop to rudder or tracking fins resulting in a significant torque moment.  Have you looked at whether the rudder moves equally left to right, it is an easy thing to miss and is adjusted at the steering cable clamp near the tiller (start with that but it wont be the torque issue).  Question - was there any or much hull damage requiring fiberglass work (other than simply pulling out the attachment holes)?

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14 hours ago, oldjeep said:

Ok.  So if you take your hands off the wheel, does the boat go mostly straight?  I assume you have the single spoke wheel.

@Bradskis- Please answer this question.  We need to know if the boat tracks fine (slight pull to the right) but the wheel is turned, or if the boat needs and extraordinary amount of force on the wheel to keep the boat straight.  The two are very different, and you need to be clear about which problem you have.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/7/2022 at 11:47 AM, justgary said:

@Bradskis- Please answer this question.  We need to know if the boat tracks fine (slight pull to the right) but the wheel is turned, or if the boat needs and extraordinary amount of force on the wheel to keep the boat straight.  The two are very different, and you need to be clear about which problem you have.

Sorry I missed this and have been injured and not on the water until today.  Here’s a clarification: it actually requires 1/4 turn counter clockwise to get the boat to go straight. If I give it that 1/4 turn counterclockwise of the steering wheel and keep it there it will track nicely. But that is way more turn of the wheel than it needed previously before all the repairs. It seems excessive to me but maybe I am misremembering what it was like before. 

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On 9/6/2022 at 9:43 PM, oldjeep said:

Ok.  So if you take your hands off the wheel, does the boat go mostly straight?  I assume you have the single spoke wheel.

If I take the hands of the wheel the boat will turn to the right. 

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On 9/7/2022 at 10:04 AM, Woodski said:

@Bradskis - on the engine alignment question, no on moving engine by the mechanic or, the hit may have shifted the engine given your description. .  What does happen is no matter how hard you try that strut probably did not end up exactly where the old one was hence the engine alignment is simply part of the process to make sure all is good.   

As you describe more it sounds like there is something significant amiss.  I wonder if there isn't something in the tracking system (tracking fins, strut, rudder) that is out of line.  Assuming your steering system is working and slack free, there is no reason it should take that much rudder angulation (3/4 turn of wheel) to achieve a straight path.  High torque rudder grinds / tab adjustments take a lot of effort but not that much steering angle.  It sounds to me like there is an incorrect offset in either the prop to rudder or tracking fins resulting in a significant torque moment.  Have you looked at whether the rudder moves equally left to right, it is an easy thing to miss and is adjusted at the steering cable clamp near the tiller (start with that but it wont be the torque issue).  Question - was there any or much hull damage requiring fiberglass work (other than simply pulling out the attachment holes)?

I drove the boat today and it needs 1/4 counterclockwise turn of the steering wheel to maintain straight track. I have adjusted the tuning tab after some of these comments but I’m unsure if that adjustment changed the steering situation or possibly I just was wrong previously about needing 3/4 turn of the steering wheel to track straight. I don’t see any visual signs that the tracking fin was installed out of alignment but will double check.  There was no fiberglass work needed.
 

As an aside, the boat seems to “take on” more water than it did before and when I pull the boat out of the river it will drain water for several minutes (this I noticed immediately after getting the boat back and it’s consistent). 

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39 minutes ago, Bradskis said:

If I take the hands of the wheel the boat will turn to the right. 

But the force required to hold it straight is about the same as before?  You adjust that force with the trim tab.

If you are saying that the wheel isn't clocked correctly while going straight, fix it like @formulaben said in the second post.

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Just now, justgary said:

But the force required to hold it straight is about the same as before?  You adjust that force with the trim tab.

If you are saying that the wheel isn't clocked correctly while going straight, fix it like @formulaben said in the second post.

Yes, the force required to hold the steering wheel and maintain straight tracking is the same as before. Sounds like I should do like @formulaben said. Thanks!

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