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  1. #1
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    Default Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    I have a 2000 Sylvan aluminum with a 90hp Honda. Two years ago, I noticed the steering wheel seemed quite hard to turn at times. I annually grease all the nipples on the motor etc. Guy at a shop told me it's normal and that they would probably need replacing soon. I did an extra good job greasing it up including disassembling the push rod from the motor and cleaning the shaft etc. IT seemed to make a noticeable difference.
    This year the steering is really stiff - two hands almost always. Interestingly though, there are times when its really loose. Anyway, I once again lubed it up really well but it made no difference. I am assuming it is time to replace the steering components unless there is some way to service them and clean them out. I have never worked with this aspect of a boat before but am quite mechanically inclined and completely confident I can replace everything; I just need to know what to buy - lol.
    Are the push/pull rods/cables something that comes with an outboard or a boat? I mean, do I buy the parts from Sylvan or from Honda? What is the difference between a rack cable and a steering cable? What does the 'No Feedback" function do and do I require it? Finally, how difficult would it be to convert to hydraulic and what would the advantages be?
    Thanks a heap?

  2. #2
    Supreme Mariner Silvertip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    You don't need hydraulic so scrap that idea. No Feedback systems are the same as rotary and rack systems except it has a clutch in the helm. It takes just light finger pressure on the wheel to release that clutch and steering becomes normal. The no feedback system eliminates the need to hang onto the wheel to combat engine torque. You can let go of the wheel and the boat continues on the heading in which it is pointed. You buy the helm (the actual steering box and the steering cable from NEITHER the boat dealer or the engine manufacturer. It is just like a tire on your car. You get them from a boat parts store. Like IBOATS that hosts this site. But before you buy stuff you don't need, disconnect the steering link (the rod that connects the end of the steering cable to the engine), Now turn the wheel. If the cable moves freely, you don't need a new one. Now turn the engine by hand. If it doesn't move freely the problem is with the engine, not the steering system. If it moves freely and cable moves freely, something is binding. Perhaps you have the cable bent at too sharp an angle as it turns toward the engine. Do a little more investigating. The cable and the helm must match.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Thanks for that advice. When I had the rods disconnected at the motor the other day, I checked the motor for resistance and you could move it with your breath. However, the binding idea is definitely worth invetigating. I'll let you know.

  4. #4
    Chief Petty Officer P 0 P E Y E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    The cable needs to move freely in the steering tube located on the engine mounting bracket.

    You can purchase a hone to put on a drill to clean out the rust or take a piece of sand paper and wrap it around a rat tail file and try cleaning the tube.
    Farmer's Tan....year round

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    When I disconnect the arm that attaches the outboard to the steering tube and disconnect the large bolt that connects the push rod into the steering tube mounted on the outboard (thereby allowing the outboard to swivel freely) and turn the steering wheel, the wheel is still quite stiff. The push rod that is inside the steering tube can now be pulled out (in the direction of the steering wheel), but not all the way. This is because there is not enough room between the steering tube and the edge of the boat through the access panel where the tube makes a 90 bend. I assume if I disconnect at the steering wheel this will solve the problem. But, I have never taken it this far because I wasn't sure if that tube took any of the weight of the motor. I mean the outboard rests on the transom via the 'hooks' on the transom plate (excuse me if I don't have the terminology correct) and the steering tube is between the two; this is what allows the motor to tilt. But, does any of the weight rest on the tube? I have been afraid that if I pull the push rod out, the motor might shift and I wont be able to get it back in. Is this the case?

    While I am on that topic...now that I have a full service garage including hoist and cherry picker, where are the hard mounting points on the o/b to lift it? The manual doesn't say and nothing looks obvious to me.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Sounds like you have accurately determined what is needed next; to disconnect the steering cable from the helm and try to completely remove it from the tilt tube for cleaning and re-lubing. I have included a link below to the Teleflex online library where you can read/download any instruction sheet/manual that applies to your system. While the tilt tube does bear all the weight of the motor onto the boat via the transom bracket, I do not believe you could move it during the removal of the streering cable due to the weight of the motor and it should be bolted to the transom. Good luck!

    http://www.teleflexmarine.com/cgi-bi...s&library=1018
    Last edited by Willyclay; July 7th, 2009 at 12:15 AM. Reason: Fat fingers

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willyclay View Post
    Sounds like you have accurately determined what is needed next; to disconnect the steering cable from the helm and try to completely remove it from the tilt tube for cleaning and re-lubing. I have included a link below to the Teleflex online library where you can read/download any instruction sheet/manual that applies to your system. While the tilt tube does bear all the weight of the motor onto the boat via the transom bracket, I do not believe you could move it during the removal of the streering cable due to the weight of the motor and it should be bolted to the transom. Good luck!

    http://www.teleflexmarine.com/cgi-bi...s&library=1018
    Well, I finally got around to this. I have removed the rack from the pinion and have it accessible. The tube still is behind the panels on the side of the boat and makes a 90 at the transom. It appears that I MAY have to move the O/B to completely remove the tube if I have to replace the entire unit. Regardless, with the push rod disconnected from the O/B and 90 % out of the tube, it is free to move. Also, when looking at the rack assembly, the only part that is visible is the area where the pinion sits, and it is fairly dry. The rack housing is welded - something I may be able to grind off to get access to the entire rack. Nevertheless, the resistance lies either in the rack itself or within the tube but I don't know what to do here insofar as cleaning the tube and lubing it as I dont see how is can come apart. My biggest concern is if I do need to replace it, I fear the side panels of the boat will need to come off and thats a big job. I dont believe I can feed an entire rack assembly from either direction and make the 90 turn at the transom.

    Here is the number on the steering cable:
    SSC13474 Teleflex USA 8357

    Willclay: I looked up that link you offered but I cant ascertain which one is mine. Of the few I narrowed it down to, there is little info that applies to my situation. Am I missing something?

    Also, when I look on iBoats for replacement parts, here:

    http://www.iboats.com/Boat_Rack_Pini...view_id.246969

    I see steering cables, rack cables and entire packages. What is the difference between a rack cable and a steering cable when both come from the rack and pinion steering page.

    Again, thanks a heap for this help. No one up here to pay to have this done.
    MajBach

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Regarding your question about the differences between rack system cables, the cables themselves are basically the same particularly at the motor end/telescopic ram. The differences are on the helm end and it must match your helm. Your cable number SSC13474 mates with a Back Mount helm only. I don't believe the last two digits are 74; probably 14 for the cable length in feet. The correct length is very important when you order a replacement cable. Each of the other cables listed on the link you provided also mate with a particular type of rack&pinion helm and are not compatible with your helm. FYI, I recently emailed Teleflex with a question about one of their steering systems and receive a prompt and concise response. You may want to try them before laying out any money.

    As far as removing your Honda from the transom, I have zero hands-on experience with them but know that most late model outboard motors require an adapter with a lifting ring. Some adapters fit the crankshft threads and some adapters are bolted to the flywheel. Post that specific question in the Honda forum and see what those experts say. Good luck!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    You can probably fix the cable you have pretty easily. My boats steering was so tight I had to struggle with 2 hands to turn the wheel and I thought I would need new cables also until I stumbled across this idea:
    http://forums.screamandfly.com/forum...d.php?t=188611

    My brother actually built a modified version of the cable luber in that link and the steering can be turned with one finger now.
    A few notes learned from our use of the cable luber:
    We took the cable completely out of the boat but didnt really need to. Just disconnect from the steering wheel and attach to cable there.
    We used transmission fluid-it worked real well.
    It took about an hour for ours to loosen up but reading other threads it can take overnight sometimes.
    100psi is what we set the air compresser to.

    Heres some more info:
    http://forums.screamandfly.com/forum...d.php?t=188864

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Unless your cable is kinked or there is some type of physical damage, there is absolutely NO NEED TO REPLACE your stiff or stuck steering cable. There is a very inexpensive and somewhat simple fix for this. Using cheap and easy to find parts from the hardware store and any air compressor you can fabricate a tool that can be used to first force a cleaner through the cleaner, and then a lube. Here are 2 links to 2 different tools. The first is http://www.hydrostream.org/ArticleArchives/Luber.htm . This one obviously requires a welder, but there is a second version that does not...and here it is http://forums.screamandfly.com/forum...d.php?t=188611 . This one uses a hose instead of the pipe and works just the same with a caveat( DO NOT EXCEED 50psi IF USING THE HOSE) Trust me on this one, as I have tried it. Anyway, the way it works is that you slide your home made tool over the end of the steering shaft at the motor end and clamp it to the housing. Use at least 2 clamps if you have the room for them. It is usually easier to do this with the cable removed from the boat for obvious reasons, but it does not need to be. If you can remove it from the motor, that alone would make it easier, but still, if your cable goes through a tilt tube and you cannot easily remove it then slide the tool over the cable and clamp it the end of tilt tube. Next, open the cap on the "t" of your tool, fill it with a cleaner(Seafoam works really well) and close it back up. Adjust your air compressor to no more than 50 psi(you can go higher if you use the all steal version) and connect the air hose to the fitting on your tool. Next, go up front and use several old towels or rags and place them around your helm and the floor, cuz when the cleaner makes it to the helm it will drip dirty gunk and you want to contain that. It will take some time for the cleaner to make it's way to the helm and that will depend on just how bad your cable is. Mine wasn't all that bad, and it took about 30 minutes to work it's way through. My firend's was completely stuck, and it took 6 hours. Turning the steering back and forth helps the cleaner work it's way and get all the old gunked up grease loose and out. Once the cleaner makes it to the helm, just keep moving the steering back and forth until you hear just air coming out of the helm. Once you're there, disconncet the air hose and now fill up the tool with a lubricant(10w30 or something similar works best) and attach the air hose again. Now you're working the oil through the cable. Make sure you use fresh teflon tape on the cap everytime you take it off to make sure it seals up. It will help again if you turn the wheel back and forth to help the lube make it through. The way I do it I wait until just air is again coming out of the helm, this way I am sure the lube has made it through and has pushed out all the cleaner, then I fill it up with oil again and do it one more time. While there is oil dripping out of the helm on the second round, disconnect the air, clean up your mess and you are done. The 3 systems I have done using this system so far are free and can be easily steered with 1 finger. This really, really works. I was able to find all the parts needed at HD and they cost just under 20 bucks. Figure 10 bucks for the seafoam and half a quart of motor oil and you get a like new cable for 30 bucks, not to mention you can do this anytime it stiffens up or on other boats as well.

    As a side note, it's been determined that grease and time do not play well together. Grease stiffens and gunks up with time, there fore it will often kill steering cables and it is the preception of most people that they will have to replace the cable at that point. That is not true. Use this tool/method, and never grease your cable or tube again. Get the http://www.discountmarinesupplies.co...ABLE_LUBE.html after that and you shouldn't have anymore steering cable problems for a long time.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by dan4081 View Post
    You can probably fix the cable you have pretty easily. My boats steering was so tight I had to struggle with 2 hands to turn the wheel and I thought I would need new cables also until I stumbled across this idea:
    http://forums.screamandfly.com/forum...d.php?t=188611

    My brother actually built a modified version of the cable luber in that link and the steering can be turned with one finger now.
    A few notes learned from our use of the cable luber:
    We took the cable completely out of the boat but didnt really need to. Just disconnect from the steering wheel and attach to cable there.
    We used transmission fluid-it worked real well.
    It took about an hour for ours to loosen up but reading other threads it can take overnight sometimes.
    100psi is what we set the air compresser to.

    Heres some more info:
    http://forums.screamandfly.com/forum...d.php?t=188864
    Dan4081 - Sorry, I don't mean to post the same info you did, I think we were typing it up at the same time.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by emilime75 View Post
    Dan4081 - Sorry, I don't mean to post the same info you did, I think we were typing it up at the same time.
    Haha-no problem.
    great job on your write up-much more detailed than mine.

    If you dont mind I think you should start a thread titled something like "How to easily fix tight steering" or something along those lines and put your post in there.
    I think it would help many people on here!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willyclay View Post
    Regarding your question about the differences between rack system cables, the cables themselves are basically the same particularly at the motor end/telescopic ram. The differences are on the helm end and it must match your helm. Your cable number SSC13474 mates with a Back Mount helm only. I don't believe the last two digits are 74; probably 14 for the cable length in feet. The correct length is very important when you order a replacement cable. Each of the other cables listed on the link you provided also mate with a particular type of rack&pinion helm and are not compatible with your helm. FYI, I recently emailed Teleflex with a question about one of their steering systems and receive a prompt and concise response. You may want to try them before laying out any money.

    As far as removing your Honda from the transom, I have zero hands-on experience with them but know that most late model outboard motors require an adapter with a lifting ring. Some adapters fit the crankshft threads and some adapters are bolted to the flywheel. Post that specific question in the Honda forum and see what those experts say. Good luck!
    Thanks again for your reply. The closest dealer I called said the same thing you did regarding the cable number, but that is the number. I called Teleflex and they told me that was an OEM part sold to mfg'ers and is no longer made. It comes in 1/2 foot increments, this one being 14 1/2'. I went to a 15 footer based on their recomendation.

    As far as the outboard goes - laughs - I forgot I had a shop manual (never needed one for my Honda in 10 yrs). There is an eye bolt that screws into the fly wheel. Made one - motor is off.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Steering cables, rack cables? I need help with this.

    Dan and Emiliee:

    Since posting, I bit the bullet and tore everything apart. Crazy - you get one thing off then realize you need to take another...almost doesn't look like a boat anymore. Despite the extra work, I am kinda glad I may have done a lot of unnecessary work because there were a lot of things I came across that need some TLC I wouldn't have otherwise. Screws that have loosened everywhere for example. I am also going to replace my control box from the cheap Force model that was in there to a decent Honda one.
    I also think that my cable problems went beyond just bad lubrication. The way it was run through the boat there were some pretty tight bends. I have had a few people from our Coast Guard look at it and they agree that the cable has probably frayed a little on the inside and no amount of lube will fix it. Makes sense too because I find the steering isn't consistantly stiff. I may have to use two hands and a lot of force to steer in one direction but a second later, it comes back with finger tip pressure.
    Thanks anyway, I am sure I will use your advice in maintaining the new cable.

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