Helm wheel removal tips

bsangs

Old Newbie
Thinking of replacing the helm wheel with a larger, folding model. Good sale on Lewmar folding wheels happening right now. Any tips on easiest way to remove the existing wheel? Have seen videos/posts of wheel removal on powerboats, but haven't run across anything useful from a sailboat yet. (Hammers, gear pullers, lubricant - a few different ways to get them off in the powerboat world.) Ours is a traditional Edson pedestal, and existing wheel is either a Lewmar or Edson, not exactly certain. Thinking it should be a pretty quick job, aside from a potential Autohelm sizing issue, but that's a different story. Thanks.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Your boat is quite likely to have a Yacht Services wheel and pedestal. Back off and remove the large chromed nut and slide the wheel off the shaft. Mind the keyway and do not lose the 'key' loosely resting in the slot on the shaft.
 

bsangs

Old Newbie
Thanks Loren. I’ll have to double check on the model, as the previous owner replaced the pedestal and the wheel. Likely a similar procedure I assume?
Your boat is quite likely to have a Yacht Services wheel and pedestal. Back off and remove the large chromed nut and slide the wheel off the shaft. Mind the keyway and do not lose the 'key' loosely resting in the slot on the shaft.
 

Afrakes

Sustaining Member
Thinking of replacing the helm wheel with a larger, folding model. Good sale on Lewmar folding wheels happening right now. Any tips on easiest way to remove the existing wheel? Have seen videos/posts of wheel removal on powerboats, but haven't run across anything useful from a sailboat yet. (Hammers, gear pullers, lubricant - a few different ways to get them off in the powerboat world.) Ours is a traditional Edson pedestal, and existing wheel is either a Lewmar or Edson, not exactly certain. Thinking it should be a pretty quick job, aside from a potential Autohelm sizing issue, but that's a different story. Thanks.
The spokes on the Lewmar folding wheel are larger in diameter than the standard destroyer wheel. You will have to change the position and may have to change size of the clamps securing the Autohelm drive. Just did this and had to make both adjustments.
 

bsangs

Old Newbie
Couldn't have been any easier removing the wheel. (It's and Edson, btw.) I feel like a tool for even asking the question.

Was assuming that would be the case with the clamps, Al. I'm planning to gently Dremel out a wider hole on the existing ones if necessary. What do you mean by change the position though? Of the clamps themselves, or of the entire Autohelm drive?
 

Afrakes

Sustaining Member
The orientation of the spokes on my destroyer wheel and the spokes on the Lewmar were different. Luckily for me I had purchased a newer spare wheel drive many years ago. It was predrilled to accept the spoke orientation of the Lewmar and the clamps had more depth to accept the thicker spokes.
 

bsangs

Old Newbie
The orientation of the spokes on my destroyer wheel and the spokes on the Lewmar were different. Luckily for me I had purchased a newer spare wheel drive many years ago. It was predrilled to accept the spoke orientation of the Lewmar and the clamps had more depth to accept the thicker spokes.
I'm wrong - our current wheel is a 24" Schmitt. The screw-on nut reads Edson, and the pedestal is an Edson, thus my confusion. Our wheel already has six spokes with an Autohelm connected, and the previous owner used electrical tape to bridge the gap between the Autohelm clamps and the spokes, as the spoke diameter is 3/8". This might work out well with very little adjusting, as long as the 40" folding wheel fits well.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
FWIW we tried a 44" ss wheel on our boat for a couple of years. Then reverted to the OEM 36". (I moved the AP drive motor assembly back n forth by using some of the predrilled holes in the drive casing. The Raymarine wheel drive unit seems to be predrilled for several different spoke numberings.
(I had picked up the bigger wheel at a swap meet, just to try it out. Steering was better when seated on either combing, but stepping up n down to get back to the helm station was inconvenient for both of us, more so for the shorter person. :) )
 

bsangs

Old Newbie
FWIW we tried a 44" ss wheel on our boat for a couple of years. Then reverted to the OEM 36". (I moved the AP drive motor assembly back n forth by using some of the predrilled holes in the drive casing. The Raymarine wheel drive unit seems to be predrilled for several different spoke numberings.
(I had picked up the bigger wheel at a swap meet, just to try it out. Steering was better when seated on either combing, but stepping up n down to get back to the helm station was inconvenient for both of us, more so for the shorter person. :) )
Thus the folding 40" wheel! :cool: Gonna give it a go, see what happens. I just cannot use this existing 24" wheel anymore. Swear to Neptune seems like I have to crank it over six times to get hard to starboard. Plus it feels like a toy instead of a proper sailing wheel.
 

Joliba

1988 E38-200 Contributing Member
A larger wheel will need to be cranked over exactly as many times as the small wheel as the hub will need to make the same revolution. In fact the rim of the big wheel will need to be cranked around a longer circumference than the small wheel. It will still feel like “six times” but each throw will be farther for you.
 

Afrakes

Sustaining Member
FWIW we tried a 44" ss wheel on our boat for a couple of years. Then reverted to the OEM 36". (I moved the AP drive motor assembly back n forth by using some of the predrilled holes in the drive casing. The Raymarine wheel drive unit seems to be predrilled for several different spoke numberings.
(I had picked up the bigger wheel at a swap meet, just to try it out. Steering was better when seated on either combing, but stepping up n down to get back to the helm station was inconvenient for both of us, more so for the shorter person. :) )
The new Raymarine wheel drive comes with a drill bit so you can drill your own holes.
 

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
I had picked up the bigger wheel at a swap meet, just to try it out. Steering was better when seated on either combing, but stepping up n down to get back to the helm station was inconvenient...
Similar journey, but different waystation.... at least so far.

I picked up a 42" wheel second-hand, swapped it out for the OEM 36" wheel, and love it. In particular, love that it lets me get a little bit outboard when driving, and the little amount of extra leverage makes an already smooth helm fingertip sensitive. Bonus points that it brings the rim just a little bit higher which (I find) is more comfortable when standing (e.g., docking). For sailing, I give it an unequivocal thumbs-up.

Is it a pain to get back and forth around the edge of the wheel? Yeah, a little, I mean it's only 3" wider on each side, and it was already a bit of a scootch to get around the 36" wheel, but yes.

I've mitigated that - for me - in two ways.

One, I've set up my sail controls so I can do most sailing things (mainsheet, vang, jibsheets, furling) from behind the wheel. So, when I'm sailing I only need to come out from behind the wheel when setting or striking sails. Conversely, if I'm motoring along to a destination, I'm almost never behind the wheel - I set the autopilot and go. I spend much of that time - between keeping an eye on course and traffic - puttering around the cockpit doing little things that need doing (reminds me, I need to re-whip the tail of my main halyard...)

And, two, it takes maybe 10 seconds to take the wheel off. Un-do the nut, un-do the wire connector. I don't do it very often but, (e.g.) if entertaining a group of friends at the dock, it's easy to take the wheel off, bungie it to the shrouds or something, and it opens up the whole area nicely.


_/)_
 
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