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SUPER STIFF Steering Cable - Can it be salvaged or, time for a new one?

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  • SUPER STIFF Steering Cable - Can it be salvaged or, time for a new one?

    I've got a 2000 registered Bayliner Capri, with a Mercury Force 120hp outboard.

    On the configuration on my boat, the rear steps do not allow sufficient space to remove the cable from the tilt tube so, i used my multi-tool to cut a small hole in the GRP, to allow me to fully remove the cable (as you can see in the photo). I will re-fit with a larger collar, to cover the hole.

    The cable and tube were REALLY dirty (caked in old grease and salt deposits, now resembling wet mud, with a similar consistency (also similar to cookie mixture)) - they evidently haven't been cleaned in years - probably due to the reason the tube couldn't be removed unless by a) removing the outboard or b) creating a hole to fit the nut on the arm through.

    - the outboard swings easily on it's mount - i can even move it with 1 finger.
    - Even though the cable is now removed, it is still super tight so, the problem is 100% the cable.

    I have cleaned up the arm fully extended and run through 10 or so complete revolutions and added grease -> it seems like there is a lot of this wet and muddy sand mixture inside the actual tube that extends, as a little bit keeps getting pushed out each time.

    The steering is a little lighter but, still VERY heavy compared to a boat with a 1 year old cable.

    - It is rack and pinion steering - how would i grease the rack and pinion? Is it likely to even be this? When turning the wheel, you can feel and hear the cable pulling
    - Is it possible to disassemble the extending arm, to clean out all the crud?
    - is it time to just replace the cable? (I have easy access and think i could do this job within an hour) Would i need to buy the rack and pinion as well or, just the cable? Would a rotary be better than rack and pinion?
    The small hole i cut, to allow the nut to fit through and into the bilge area, in order to remove the cable The extending arm. All of the 'mud' mixture is coming out of the point where it extends and contracts

  • #2
    The rack would normally unbolt from the pinon gear. Look for four 1/4-bolts, on top of the rack, where you almost cannot see them. That will give some room to grease the rack.

    However, if the cable itself is hard to move, it is usually going to fail. The boat didn't sink, right? When they sink, water gets into the steering cable, and that is bad for it.


    • #3
      Boat hasn't sunk but, is in a salt water environment and in Britain, where it rains... A lot!

      It's purely that over time it's not been greased, salsalty air and water has got in and it hasn't been cleaned.

      I'll measure the existing cable and replace. With it unbolted, I can check the pinion is ok. If so, it's a cheap replacement.


      • #4
        Install a new steering cable, it's a day/night difference when turning wheel along with greasing what have been suggested..

        Happy Boating

        Sea Rider 320, 380 Sibs, 450 Rib, 2 Strokes Tohatsu 5,18 & 30 HP Proud Smokers


        • #5
          if you can hear the cable inside the sheath...... time for a new cable.
          Cheesehead boating the Gulf Coast of FLA 27.51° N, 82.53° W

          1988 Cruisers Rogue 2420 -VP 290 DP now powered by custom 468 - https://forums.iboats.com/forum/owner...988-rogue-2420

          Past Boats
          1970 Wooster Hellion - Merc 9.8
          2002 SeaRay 190BR - 5.0 - A1G2 - "Cheeseheads in Paradise"
          1984 Avanti 170DLI -3.0 stringer- "Ship Happens"

          What’s behind you doesn’t matter.Enzo Ferrari


          • #6
            if you have not replaced yet(in many cases the motor must be removed to replace) .....I have had very good luck loosening up steering tubes.When they hardly move I use heat on the piston and housing and continually run it in and out of the tube cleaning the piston off each time.You mentioned you cleaned it 10 times and that is not even close to how many times you need to run the piston in and out of the tube.I have also used carb cleaner ,spraying the piston and running it in and out of the tube cleaning it each time....again 10 times is not enough.When it starts to move a little more freely and less crap is coming out of the tube,repeat this process with oil or lube spray.DONT USE GREASE.I had best results with slick 50 aerosol lube which prob is not available any longer.This will surely make the piston move freely.Last step is to lube with synthetic oil,don't use grease.Important tip is to lube and wipe a few times before and after each use of the boat for about a month.


            • #7
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              A new Cable, in fact, a complete Helm isn't that expensive