Steering play.....

Having had my DN for only a week now, I notice a
small amount of play in the steering, and it seems
to be in the shaft the tiller handle attaches to.
It's not much of a problem until you hit 30-35 MPH,
then every little dimple in the ice wants to shift
you right/left. I can imagine that at 50 it would
be a BIG problem. How is this steering shaft put
together, and is this repairable or not?

Any comments welcome....Blackice


If it is the brass bushings in the tube are worn out there is another fix. You pull the steering assembly out of the tube and coat the brass bushing with epoxy that has been thickened with graphite. Coat the steering assembly rod with a thin coat of vasoline.Put the rod back in the tube, wipe off the excess epoxy and let it set up. After several hours just turn the rod slightly to insure it will release.

Works for other configurations...

That trick also works for older construction where there aren't any bushings, but the nose is solid wood. You can basically cast an epoxy bushing inside the wood just as described above.

Also, Carnuba car-wax is one of the best release agents. It's also important to make sure the steering rod is perfectly cylindrical and smooth so the cast bushing will allow it to rotate. If there are significant worn areas on the rod, you might want/need to buy a new chock. I would also probably sand the rod starting with 220 grit and working up to at least 800 to give it every chance to release cleanly.

Another option is to replace the bushings with new ones. They are just pressed into the Aluminum tube. Coincidently, I'm going to be doing exactly that with my boat tonight!


Geoff S.

Not too hard...

Almost all steering looseness repairs are pretty easy.

I'm assuming you have a more-or-less modern DN with a single-rod steering and Bronze Oilite bushings in Aluminum tubes for the tiller and front-chock. If you have an older DN, you might have some other kinds of steering hardware and supports for the two shafts.

The most common place for steering to get loose is actually the roll-pin that connects the tiller-head to the shaft. I generally replace mine every year as preventative maintenance. I'd suggest getting one since you'll have to knock the old one out to do anything with the steering assembly anyway. It's 1/4" diameter (and I forget the length...). Most any hardware store will sell them; I get mine from a local ACE.

The first step before disassembling anything is to get the boat on some saw-horses and examine every connection in the steering system for play and wear. The idea is to try and figure out all the places that might be contributing to your problem. Don't forget to check for looseness between the tiller and the arm under the boat - that's the place where the roll-pin will show up. Then I'd remove the steering rod and tiller. Check the front-chock and tiller shaft for play.

Hopefully all you'll find is play in the tiller end of the system. If that's it, gently tap out the roll pin (I generally use a large nail as a punch...) and take everything apart. If there's slop between the shaft and the bushing glued into the hull, you can probably fix it with some Teflon shim-tape or the like wrapped around the shaft. The bushings only ride on the top and bottom inch of the shaft, so you only need to shim there. Reassemble with a new roll-pin and see if things feel better. Hopefully you're done.

If not, you may find some slop in the ball-ends on the steering rod. One possibility is that the bushings between the bolt and the ID of the ball may be worn (or missing). ACE has tubing and bushings that fit in there nicely; just cut short pieces to length and slip them over the bot and inside the ball. If there's play between the ball and the threaded part of the fitting then you probably need to get a replacement. Sarns Hardware might sell you one; they're also available from Aircraft Spruce and Wick Aircraft Supply. I'd bet a local go-kart place might even have them.

If there's play between the front-chock post and it's bearings, you have a bit more work (but nothing too horribly difficult). We can "cross that bridge" later, if necessary.

I hope this helps. Let me know if there's anything that's not clear and I'm sure someone will help clarify it.


Geoff S.

A big Thanks!.....

Thanks to all who replied - will be looking at all the
suggested fixes ASAP - good sailing!


Whut open water ??

Whut open water ??