Tiller to Outboard Steering Link
Here is a modification that might interest those with outboards and tillers. Growing tired of steering both tiller and outboard together, I concocted this modification. While not completed or tested, this should allow a sailor to steer both rudder and outboard with the tiller, and should be convenience enough to attach and remove easily. This modification will also allow tweaking for optimal rod angles and lengths. It will be about a week before I’m able to finish and perform initial testing so results will have to wait a bit.
Scroll down to the pictures first to get an overview. The text will make more sense.
There is some geometry involved but this system should make it workable without being a perfectionist with measurements up front as it’s fully adjustable.
I drafted up the measurements, angles, etc in a design program and found that with the right tweaking of this system, the rudder and outboard angle should be 2* difference at full hard port or starboard, with the same or very close angle at most points of attack. That’s close enough and way better than I can do by hand.
So here is what I’ve come up with so far. Again this is not quite completed.
There are three sub-assemblies. The tiller attachment. The rod. And the outboard attachment. The tiller attachment point is adjustable fore and aft, the rod is adjustable lengthwise and the outboard end is a fixed point, located directly in the center of the outboard pivot. The rod is removable, all other components will remain attached.
The Tiller End:
I used a short piece of Ronstan 7/8” C-track I had lying around and shaped some 1/8” carbon fiber sheet also lying around to slide in the track. Why a track? Well…if you attempt to locate just the right spot for this link, you may or may not do a good job. There is a weird angle to consider and since the pivot point (left/right) for the outboard is a bit further aft than the rudder pivot point, there is a pretty good shot at getting your locating point wrong. Since I had most of the materials already, and had all winter to design and fabricate this, making a track seemed prudent. I can tweak it once it’s installed for the best angle with about 5 1/2” of adjustment room fore and aft, and about 3 1/2” rod length adjustment..more than enough options to keep things aligned.
Within the track is what I will call a track car. The track car is 1/8” Carbon fiber just small enough to slide in the track but without much play. Careful cutting and sanding required. A 1/16” thick carbon fiber sheet piece is epoxied on top, centered on the track car so the 1/16” slides right between the open end of the C. This forms a nice flat surface—look at this letter C and the open space that would form an O is filled with this 1/16” piece, the center of the C is filled with the 1/8” piece. Epoxied into the CF track car is a shaved down 1/4-28 nut (for clearance and fit reasons) and one 3mm flathead screw laid flush…flathead end facing into the C, screw end facing up. The 1/4-28 nut receives a ball mount which the quick detach link attaches to. The screw receives a small hand-twist nut. In between the track car (combination of 1/8" CF and 1/16" CF) and the ball mount and twist nut is a piece of 1/8” CF with 3/16” marine ply epoxied together. Let’s call this the “hat” When you tighten the twist nut and ball mount, this clamps the track car and hat together tightly around the track itself. You can loosen, slide the track car and hat, tighten and locate the ball joint very easily. This will assure the ability to adjust the angle without creating multiple attachment points. You could use a piece of metal for the track car and hat, but I had the CF and it’s a whole easier to work with (although much more difficult than wood!).
BTW the trick to centering the 1/16” piece so the track car is nice and straight is to take saran wrap and wrap it around the 1/8” track car piece. Slide the wrapped car into the track, being careful not to tear the saran wrap, then fold the saran wrap, outward exposing the top of the 1/8” CF right in the open portion of the C. Epoxy the 1/6” (after carefully sizing it) onto the track so it’s centered. Put another piece of saran wrap on top then place a small weight on top. Then once the epoxy has cured, slide it all out of the track and remove Saran wrap. Since epoxy does not stick to Saran wrap, it will come off easily and will avoid accidentally glueing it all to the track. Frankly you probably don’t need this 1/16” piece at all but it does give more surface area for the hat to bite into.
The rod consists of a piece of 1/4-28 Stainless 316 threaded rod (cut to length), a 1/4-28 bronze turnbuckle (one LH and one RH fitting), and a pair of quick detachable ball joints. The rod itself will be about 15 1/2” long but with the turnbuckle and LH fitting it becomes a bit longer.
Here is a link to the quick detach ball joints:http://www.midwestcontrol.com/part.php?id=140
I chose 1/4-28 size to keep it small and light, and for the ball nut inlaid into the track car to be able to fit into the small Ronstan track, but a larger 5/16” size MIGHT work. Regardless you’ll want to grind down the inlaid nut to leave plenty of CF for strength.
I originally bought 1/4" rod and foolishly thought I could thread the ends. Fail. SS 316 is HARD and apparently the dies I was using was not up to the task. However I can say that my Makita 18V drill really was a trooper trying to dig through it. I love Makita tools! Anyway, this is why the project is not done, I’m bailing on threading my own rod and am waiting delivery on Stainless 316 threaded rod.
If there is a machinist out there I would gladly send you enough 1/4 rod for both of our projects if you send me back a piece with professional threaded ends. I think the solid rod will be easier on the hands to handle and will look better, but until then the threads will have to show.
The rod screws into a turnbuckle, bronze 1/4-28 that I got on clearance at defender.com. It came with the left threaded end which I cut down, carved grooves into, and epoxied into the end of a quick detach joint (not the ball..the joint). The grooves where there just to give the epoxy plenty of surface area to bite into. This was because I could not find a stainless stud that had 1/4-28 right thread on one end and a long 1/4-28 left thread on the other.
The outboard end:
Small piece of wood, ball joint epoxied on top, bolted to the center of the outboard handle This piece is fixed but can be unbolted.
OK….I realize this description is extremely tough to read and understand Not only am I not the best writer but it can be difficult to comprehend this mod.
So let’s look at some pictures, it will start making sense…
This is the track, two wood screws that attach the track to tiller, the track car (with inlaid nut and screw), the hat, twist nut (gold toned) and the ball end of the ball joint.
Together, they form this assembly. Wedding ring for scale…it’s not a large assembly. When ball joint and twist nut are tight, the track car is firmly locked into the track.
As mentioned earlier, the rod piece is not completed.
Here is the quick detach ball mount with short LH thread 1/4-28 rod (supplied with the turnbuckle, but cut down) epoxied together. The idea here is the open end of the ‘buckle as shown here will receive the longer threaded rod leading to the outboard. Turn the turnbuckle to adjust the length, and therefore the throw angle of the outboard relative to the tiller.
Here is the partial rod and full track assembly together. Just pull the quick detach slide back (against spring as shown) to disconnect from the ball.
Installed on the tiller. I actually bought a new, taller and longer tiller (this was too low—hit my knee all the time, and I cut it down too short) that I will install once I get it varnished. For now, the old one does fine for testing. To locate the track fore and aft, measure the distance between the ball on the outboard and the center point of the outboard swivel (port/starboard) joint. Mine was about 10 1/4”. I set the center of the track 10 1/4 forward of the swivel point of the RUDDER. This will make the two lever arm distances the same, so when you swing the tiller 10* port, the outboard will also swing about 10* to port. One could probably set the ball at this point and be happy, but I wasn’t confident it would be right, so I went with the track rather than drilling several holes and inlaying several nuts into the tiller to receive the ball.
This is the track car slid slightly out of the track, so you can see the shape of the track car and the maximum angle of the ball joint is more than needed.
And the outboard end. You cannot see this, but under the ball and coupling nut is a machine screw holding it all down. It’s also inlaid with thickened epoxy. It’s not going anywhere.
I over drilled the hole big time and angled the ball-coupler-screw assembly a bit to allow for a better angle upward, so the rod will be fairly straight. I can’t tell that there is an angle in the pictures, but it’s about 5* and pointed directly away from the tiller end. That’s why the piece of wood, which is about 10 layers of 3/16” marine ply that was cutoff from another project…a new outboard mount board, is there. I wanted the ball to be as tall as possible so the rod will clear the transom coaming without much of an angle. I will probably have to bend the rod a little bit just by eyeballing, but not much. That’s also the reason for the 3/16” ply on the hat…just to get the ball a little lower off the tiller but without being too intrusive. It’s pretty far back on the tiller so shouldn’t interfere with anything. The ball joints allow for a 30* play. Of course since they are ball joints, the joint will swivel 360* around the ball, but we only need about 50* of swing. The wood piece (painted black) is coated in Epoxy and painted with Interlux Primekote and Perfection. The Perfection was white for another project and looked out of place, so I spray painted it black.
I was already painting pieces so why not seal it in good stuff (although the spray paint might peel off, but at least it won't get water on the wood)
OK, now imagine the threaded rod (that is attached to the turnbuckle) screwed into this. That’s just the female part of the quick detach ball joint sitting on the ball. The outboard handle (Yamaha 8hp 2stroke) was hollow and a tight fit, so I had to use two long coupler nuts and ground down the hexagon just above where you can see here. Otherwise the clearance was too tight the nuts would not turn and tighten. A better attachment system could be devised, but that is what I came up with.
And here a top view that brings it all together. Once I get the threaded rod, cut it down and bend it correctly the project will be done. Use your imagination until then I guess…
Once I get this installed and tested I’ll snap a few more pics and let you know how it’s working out.