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Installation of a new rotary steering system

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  • Installation of a new rotary steering system

    This thread is a step by step pictoral guide for the installation of a new rotary steering system on a single outboard powered boat. While the directions supplied with the systems are adequate for the installation, this pictoral guide should help visually represent each step of the process.

    The first step of the process is to select the proper steering package for your boat and engine combination. The following link to the Teleflex Marine Steering Catalog will help you make the proper steering system selection. This catalog is a complete guide to all of Teleflex steering systems.


    Remember to order through iboats.com in support of these free forums.

  • #2
    Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

    My project boat is a 1979 Marquis Catalina bowrider with a 90hp Johnson outboard. The system I selected for this boat is a Teleflex NFB 4.2 Rotary (No Feedback) Steering System Package .

    The next step of the process is determining the length of steering cable you will need. It is very important to get the proper length for the system. Too short of a length and you will not be able to make your connections. Too long of a length and your steering system will not operate smoothly and could prematurely wear out.

    In the Teleflex catalog as well as on the iboats website, you will see diagrams depicting which measurements are needed to calculate the correct cable length. This calculation consists of 3 measurements. The following photo is an example of how to use this diagram based on the measurements from my project boat.

    Measure twice....order once.

    Please note that if your steering cable goes through the engine tilt tube, you will need to add 6 inches to the A+B+C length. If your cable does not go through a tilt tube, do not add the extra 6 inches.


    • #3
      Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

      The measurments on my boat were as follows:

      Measurement A

      Measurement B

      Measurement C

      System is a through tilt tube type


      • #4
        Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

        The kit will contain all of the components you will need for the installation. The Rotary Kit used in this example contains:


        • #5
          Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

          You will need to determine if any modifications are required to mount the new hardware or run the new cable. This helm requires a 3.25 inch diameter dash hole to mount the hardware. Teleflex also recommends the cable run should allow for bends no less than 8 inches in radius and that all through bulkhead runs require a 1.5 inch diameter hole.

          On my boat, the only modification required is a larger dash hole for the helm. The previous system had a 2 inch diameter hole.

          To make this new hole, I used a 3.25 inch hole saw and an 18V cordless drill. When you try to cut a hole around a smaller hole, it is very difficult to keep the larger cut centered and keep the saw stable as it cuts. This is especially true for larger diameter holes.

          To make this job easier, I first found the center of the original hole using a ruler and marking the center lines on the dash.

          Then I cut a small scrap of wood that was just small enough to tightly fit into the hole. I then transfered the center lines from the dash onto the scrap wood. This gave me the center mark to place the hole saw drill bit.

          I set the torque on the drill high enough that it allowed the bit to cut, but low enough that if it bound up it wouldn't torque the drill over. If you leave the torque too high you can cause injury to yourself when the drill spins, or it can cause the bit to kick out and potentially damage your dash.

          Remember to go slow and use light pressure. Let the drill do the work. In the end you'll have a nice clean 3.25" diameter hole.


          • #6
            Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

            Prior to mounting your new helm control, you need to consider what else you are going to add to the dash or near the cable run path. You don't want to cut holes in the dash or gunwale only to realize you won't have enough clearance for everything once you go to install.

            For my project, I will be adding a larger gang switch panel and new switch panel for the bilge pump.

            First I check the dimensions and clearance requirements for the panels and the helm. You can find this information included with the equipment, online, or you might have to take your own measurements. Once you know this information use a pencil, ruler, and level to lay out the desired locations.

            Verify there will be no interference issues with your planned equipment. I highly recommend going ahead and making the required cutouts. If you wait until after the system is installed, you might run into difficulty getting enough room to make the cuts or you could potentially damage your new cables during the process. Always better to be safe than sorry.


            • #7
              Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

              Next you will need to fasten the mounting bracket to the dash. The directions include a template for the hole cutout and mounting holes. Since I already had a hole cutout in the dash, I chose to use the bracket itself as a template to lay out the bolt holes. I first aligned the top hole of the bracket to the centerline from the hole layout. I used a 5/16 inch bit to drill the hole.

              Then I placed the bolt through the top hole of the bracket and into the drilled hole. I then used a level to square up the bottom of the bracket. I drilled the bottom two holes and then slid the bolts through the holes.

              Slide the washer onto the bolts from the backside, thread on the lock nuts and tighten. Be careful not to over tighten or you can crack the fiberglass.


              • #8
                Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

                Now its time to attach the helm to the mounting bracket. Slide the helm steering shaft through the center hole of the mounting bracket. Use the three bolts to secure the helm to the bracket. Remember to orient the helm so that it allows for the straightest run for the cable entering the helm. There are several holes drilled into the bracket to allow for you to get the proper alignment.

                This is what the helm should look like once it is secured. Note the cable inlet holes on the helm must be in the direction of the cable run.

                Next slide the bezel onto the steering shaft, add the woodruff key (curve side down) and then fasten the bezel to the dash with the self tapping screws. Make sure to slide the bezel onto the shaft prior to installing the woodruff key.

                Finally slide the steering wheel onto the shaft, then the washer, and the lock nut. Tighten but do not over tighten.


                • #9
                  Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

                  Now its time to feed the cable into the new helm. First, run the cable with the protective sleeve still in tact through the wall of the splash well. Run the cable all the way up to the helm. If you have a steering wheel that is non-symmetrical you need to position it as shown to ensure it is at the proper orientation when installation is complete. My steering wheel is symmetrical so this step wasn't required for me, but I used tape to designate what a non-symmetrical steering wheel would look like.

                  Next remove the black protective sleeve from the end of the cable.

                  Take special care not to get any debris into the grease on the cable. Feed the cable into the UPPER helm entry spigot until it contacts the internal gear, then turn the steering wheel to draw the cable fully into the helm.

                  When the cable is fully fed it will look like this.

                  Slide the Spent Travel tube over the exposed cable as shown.

                  Insert two retaining bolts into the retaining grooves of the top spigot and one into the retaining groove of the bottom spigot.

                  Tighten all three bolts fully.

                  Finally rotate the steering wheel several times from stop to stop, and watch the movement of the Steering Cable output ram. On Starboard mounted helms turning the wheel clockwise should cause the ram to extend. On Port mounted helms turning the wheel clockwise should cause the ram to retract.


                  • #10
                    Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

                    The last step of the process is to connect the cable to the outboard. In most cases, through tilt tube style systems will require the outboard to be removed from the transom. This is so the cable can be fed through the tube.

                    My outboard has been off the transom for about a year. This means there could be debris in the tilt tube that would make it difficult to feed the cable as well as make it difficult to steer. To insure a clean tube, I sprayed a lubricant into the tube and then used a shotgun cleaning brush from a gun cleaning kit to clean the inside of the tube.

                    Feed the cable into the tilt tube as shown.

                    Slide the cable all the way in until the Coupler Nut meets the tilt tube threads. Make sure not to cross thread the nut as you feed it onto the tube. NOTE: The Coupler Nut has a locking ring in the threads. Make sure the Nut is drawn up fully and the locking ring is engaged. If you do not tighten this nut fully there will be excessive play in the steering system.

                    Finally, connect the cable output ram to the engine tiller arm as shown.

                    NOTE Some outboards REQUIRE that they be unbolted and moved all the way over to accommodate the tube installation. Just be safe since outboards are top heavy and require support when being moved. Please do not take chances!


                    • #11
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                      Re: Installation of a new rotary steering system

                      Hopefully this has been helpful for those considering a steering system replacement. Remember to measure twice, cut once, and be patient. This installation can be accomplished by the most newest newbie on the block. :-)

                      "Most" rotary systems are similar so these instructions should apply