29. Steering Gear Tips

By Tom Neale, 5/19/2005

Steering Gear Tips
By Tom Neale

1. All joking aside, poorly working steering gear can be very dangerous. Many recommend that steering cables for outboards should be replaced every few years or sooner if needed. Any time the steering is sluggish, jerky, or abnormal in any other way, check it out and take care of the problem.

2. Lubrication as prescribed by manufacturers is critical, but even this won’t give the steering gear eternal life.

3. Forcing a resisting cable with the wheel may damage the mechanism at the wheel or that end of the cable.

4. A cable may work but may be crinkly inside when you bend it. If so, replace it.

5. If there’s a problem, unbolt the end of the cable and the jacket from the motor. Turn the motor by hand too determine whether the problem is at the motor pivot. Turn the wheel to determine if the problem is inside the cable. If both work freely the problem may be where the rod passes through the motor mount.

6. If you tap on the rod, it’s best to use a bronze shaft or block to absorb and spread the blow to avoid deforming the end of the rod.

7. Patience is key. Tap a little and squirt a liberal dose of a product such as “PB Blaster” (unless this is inconsistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations). Wait for the product to seep in and hopefully start to work. Tap and squirt more. Sometimes this will take a day or more of tapping and squirting, sometimes it works quickly, sometimes not at all.

8. Sometimes a little torque may help when you’re trying to free a steering rod frozen inside the engine mount, if you can use a wrench on the end of the rod without marring the surface. Twisting the cable may ruin it.

9. Thoroughly clean and grease any problem area.

10. When storing for the winter, I prefer to remove the rod from the its passage inside the motor mount, clean and lubricate the inside of that bore, lubricate the cable, rod and wheel assembly as well as possible, and seal the end of the lubricated cable and rod with a plastic bag full of grease.

11. DO read all the warnings and instructions and follow them if you use ether.

12. These are some of the things I’ve tried, but you should always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations and you shouldn’t do anything I say anyway. I don’t know how to hit it right.

Go to www.tomneale.com for other tips and information

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale