How to fix the play in the ship's wheel

Wander

Member II
The ship's wheel on my 36C is attached to a straight, bronze shaft by means of a square key. In most keyed shaft assemblies, the key helps maintain position but the friction from the taper is what absorbs most of the stress from the turns. Because the shaft is not tapered, it is the key and the keyway that has to absorb the stress. This has resulted in a lot of play in the streering. I liken it to driving an 1973 station wagon. If I lock the shaft in place I still get almost two inches of swing on the wheel! I've replaced the key but this has made little difference. Has anyone addressed this issue?
Thanks,
Joe

Cockpit006.jpgCockpit007.jpg
 

C Masone

Perfect Storm
I don't think most american wheel shafts are tapered, my Yacht Specialties is not, and my former boats Edson was not.

Why not just find some kind of shim stock to jam in there?
 

Glyn Judson

Moderator
Moderator
Play int he wheel.

Joe, This following are probably crazy ideas because it sure sounds crazy to me as I type this but I wonder if flipping the wheel around would help. I only mention this due to the limited experience I've had working on a handful of teak wheels and otherwise for both my E31 (I've had a total of four different ones on our boat before being satisfied with the one on there now) and even one for a C36 that I refinished. I'm pretty sure in the range of about 99% to 101% that the mounting screws visible on the hub of your wheel should not be seen. I know that everything's backwards in that regard due to the wheel box design on your boat vs the more conventional pedestal form that I have but am just tossing it out as a possibility that you might try. I just looked at photo images that I have taken over the years of seven different E31's equipped with wheel boxes and only one of them shows those screws facing forward, the rest of them having the screws facing aft. One of my wheels that I worked on had a hub with an undersized 1/2" hole and I had a machine shop enlarge to 3/4" and along with the 1/4" key slot which needed deepening (is deepening a word???). I only mention this because of the familiarity that grew from all the work I've done on so many wheels. I knew which way to reinstall the hub after the machine work was done: screws not seen surrounding the hub nut. Hmmm, here's another thought. Might it be possible to identify the area of slop in either the keyway slot or the bore and then shim accordingly as has already been suggested? To take this to the extreme, I'm sure any competent machine shop could enlarge the slot to accept the next larger woodruff key if that turned out to be the problem area. I hope my ramblings will serve as food for thought and allow you to come up with your own fix, Glyn Judson, E31 hull #55, Marina del Rey, CA
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Perhaps some very very thin shim stock for the majority of the shaft area not in the key portion...

Finally! a use for the bit of trivia I recall from reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" several decades ago!
Cut that shim from an aluminum beer can wall.
:rolleyes:

Cheers,
Loren
 

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AleksT

Member III
Have you checked the part of the steering mechanism under the deck? (Steering cables or whatever you have). If the new key fits snugly then there may be something else that is loose.
 

Glyn Judson

Moderator
Moderator
Shimming stock.

Loren, Correct my if I'm wrong but I don't think aluminum and bronze like each other, right? Maybe brass shim stock from a good automotive supply house would be better. Glyn
 

Wander

Member II
Thanks all for the thoughts. I'm sure the slop is from the wheel because I can hold the shaft steady and still move the wheel quite a bit. I had thought of using some type of shim but wanted to get some other input before I take the easy route. Glyn, I'm pretty sure I tried turning the wheel around last summer but I will make sure to give it another try before I take any drastic action.

Joe
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Loren, Correct my if I'm wrong but I don't think aluminum and bronze like each other, right? Maybe brass shim stock from a good automotive supply house would be better. Glyn

Oh Heck.... I wait 3 decades to put in a reference to that book... and you debunk the idea in a few hours!
:rolleyes:

Loren
 

Emerald

Moderator
Quote Originally Posted by Glyn Judson
Loren, Correct my if I'm wrong but I don't think aluminum and bronze like each other, right? Maybe brass shim stock from a good automotive supply house would be better. Glyn

Oh Heck.... I wait 3 decades to put in a reference to that book... and you debunk the idea in a few hours!
:rolleyes:

Loren

Well Loren, just extrapolate it to some copper flashing from a place that sells gutters and roofing stuff and we'll give you partial credit :cool:
 

Greg Ross

Not the newest member
A couple of other options

It doesn't make sense to me that you'd have that much play caused by wear between the wheel hub and the shaft. First thing I think I'd try is shimming the key stock and taking up the slack there. Other option would be to make youself a tapered key set. It would take some dexterity with a grinder on a long length of keystock, but basically you'd be making two long wedges. Opposing one another and tapped into place until tight then trimmed off with a hacksaw. That would be as tight as you'd ever echieve.
Other suggetion is to take the top off your steering box and with the wheel lock tightened up, turn the wheel as you describe and see what else is moving. The wheel lock mechanism itself could be loose.
Also any play between the pinion and the quadrant? Is it adjustable for Lash?
 

Wander

Member II
Greg, thanks for the thoughts. There is play in the rest of the steering mechanism without a doubt. But I know if I use my hand to hold the shaft in place, the wheel still turns way too much. My boat is on the hard at the moment, and my wheel is safely stored at home. I will be putting everyone's suggestions into play as soon as the shrink wrap comes off.

Thanks,
Joe
 

exoduse35

Sustaining Member
Get a wider key shaft and file/ grind it to fit snugly to the shaft and the wheel. the stock should be available from a GOOD auto parts house, or firm like Grangers. We deal with this from time to time in the auto world and the fixes are not too difficult.
 

rwthomas1

Sustaining Partner
Disassemble and slather the shaft, inside of the wheel bore, etc. with JB Weld and reassemble, allow to cure for a day. There is slop in the wheel bore/shaft caused by wear from simple use. The slop started out as very slight but has worked its way up to being a problem. The JB Weld will fill in the worn areas and tighten it all back up. Yes, using JB Weld like this could make it difficult to remove the wheel in future, although I have not found this to be the case when I have used it like this. You will need a good puller to move it though. Think of the JB Weld as the shim stock others have proposed and you get the idea. RT
 
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