Bomb proof steering


Easy-up rudder mod
Updated steering hinges
Canted Rudders



After our steering failed for the third time in our first 4 outings with the boat, we decided to do some serious upgrading. As an engineer I find the whole set up flimsy to the extreme, so went through each aspect and injected some he-man into it...

We went for an admiral Hydrive system, made in Australia, £570.
This set up comes with a ss cable end on it from the slave cylinder, which was originally developed for fishermen to prevent them from dragging pots n junk over any rams. I like that idea alot as putting a hydraulic ram outside to get walked on, covered in sand and sea water didn't appeal too much.
Apparently these have been fitted to over 100 macs without any grief. The other pros of this system are:

- Built in non-return valves (easily remove able)
- Straight swap fit (cut out the pedestal a wee bit) and use the original cable outlet/geometries (almost.. need to extend cable support about an inch or so for full lock)
- Slave cylinder sits neatly inside the port side of the rear, right out of the way!
- Over engineered, been used on Americas cup yachts, larger Sunseekers and all smaller ones speced for charter use.
- Include built in end stops and ram wiper seals (don't take thet for granted.. can wreck seals very quickly)

We tested ours the other day, especially by steaming through St Albans race against a spring tide... 4.75kts... oops.. and find it very good. You can leave the helm and go get the pee-pot without too much fear of losing your bearing. Lock to lock about 2.5 turns, though they said it would be nearer 4. Not figured that one out!
The package comes with everything you need to install, and aussie proof instructions. I still managed to get the pipes crossed the first time despite my best efforts, but didn't take much to drain down, correct and sort out.
After taking the non retrun valves out, the importer said that most people put them back in again, so I did. Consequently I don't know how it feels without them. If an autopilot were to be plumbed in afterwards, they would need to be there.
Be wary of the baystar ebay items.. bullhorn mounts on the engine mean that you'll be steering at an odd angle always when sailing, plus you can't isolate the rudders and go engine-only if it hits the fan. Their reps couldn't tell me why it was not a good idea.

Looks just the same as before, though it is a ss cable tail.

  Sleeved thread, should not fatigue the pin quite as badly as the original raw ends.      
Sexy head unit, 4kg of heavy engineering
  Ram hung on supplied zip tie, adapter tube and the cable end running out (the bungee is not part of anything!)      

Super tidy, more room under the pedestal now.. Note the bendability of the nylon tubing can run quite smoothly. The end of cable protection tube thingy from the old steering head makes good anti-chaff tubes, just visible where the lines exit the skin

Please do call for more info to avoid the errors I made... like getting the lines the right way round before bleeding, and make sure the cable is in before assembling the cable adaptor, and when it comes to torquing in the T pieces on the slave...
I think this has got to be about the most robust system out there. I'm very sick of steering failures as those that know the boat are aware that in our first 5 outings 4 of them were abruptly terminated due to some steering failure issue
Hope this helps

This setup has been tested in heavy seas and I'm finally feeling pretty confident with a Machelm. I never disconnect the motor while sailing.. just don't feel it! Spose I might give it a go one day just out of curiosity!

  Sorted out those horrible ends with some SS rod ends. Comes apart in no time too.      
The re-engineered bracket with a blade shim so there really is virtually no slop now. I've also got later transom brackets (thanks Ariane) which too have not escaped without a bit of extra welding. The old 2 piece set up was pathetic.
Can't be doiing with any flex in the bow either, so this is the original with a bit of extra triangulation.

I'm sick of watching fulcrums disintegrate due to missmatched metals causing electrolytic devastation. I've sleeved the pintle bolt with some high pressure airline tube. Nylon washers underneath make it rattle/slop free and electricaly isolated. Had to bore the bracket out slightly. I'm going to add a little extra thickness to the SS transom brackets and run the sleeve tube trough them as well.. makes a pretty good bearing surface and it is cheap n easy to replace.

The one on the right is a fly-off cleat.. goes off with a serious crack so if anything happens the helm will be alerted straight away, and perhaps avoid turning a rudder into the prop... Plus these cleats have adjustable pressure. I also like having 2 different lines so there is no way I can get confused again regarding which one I need to cleat off.. that's another story that cost me a new prop.
Now that's a better set up... one of the old rudder brackets put to good use,(ball joint pin instead of rudder pintle) and the cable bellows were put together from a large washer and the wing-mirror-adjuster-arm out of a Ford Ka.. I grabbed a load of them. They fit the other end too... Car scrapyards are a brilliant source of hard to find sealing boots and general widgets. Cheap too! :-)

I found that some pvc electrical conduit fits on a very tight basis inside this steering tube. This centers the cable and gives it something nicer to run on.. My bellows do a really good job of wiping the water off. I've also put in a few small drain holes on the underneath so water can't collect. These cables are designed to go through engine tilt tubes which keeps the open end protected... not open like this. It invites salt n sand to go up your cable end.. not good.

With this lovely non-slop steering one suprise has surfaced. Force on the rudders now lift or drop the bow, hence I will need to add an extra complication to the equation. This is because the anchor point for the steering tube is above the cable itself. Perhaps I'll move it 90degrees so it is the same plane as the forces acting on it, or add a small support to the tube itself to keep it at a fixed height.


In a spate of boredom I suddenly went mad with the drills and purged another of the offensive sights on Restless's back end.. that horrible kink in the control cables. I've often thought it would be better as the photo below proves. As the engine swings, the cables push n pull in & out of the loose fitting bellows. Inside the belows is an elecrtical conduit gland type affair, with a bearing surface of 316ss in place of the rubber gland. A large relaxed loop inside has taken a fair amount of effort out of the engine control, so Mrs happy and I'm pleased with a much improved cable run.
Will sort out the electrical runs later...

  The inside part, in progress. Overall it is a less stressed cable run and even manages to make a little extra space below. Looking pretty promising.      


  -- Easy up rudder --      


Easy up rudder mod currently in development. This version failed on sea trials. rubber no good and not quite man enough for the task. MkII should be an absolute pleasure to use, this was for the few times it worked.

I thought the bullseye and cam cleat (3 pics up) were a standard mac fitting. Perhaps that is why I thought it neccessary to get some more leverage on the up-haul as I would have to grab the rope from beneath the bullseye and lean out over the back of the transom in order to get the rudder moving, as otherwise I could pull as hard as I liked but all forces/fulcrum points lined up pefectly, hence lots of struggle and no effect.



  This is Mk II. The curved plate sits against the rudder and provides some useful triangulation of the working end. Looking forward to trying all this out. The other piece is going to be the new drag-link for the engine. I will have the full lock of the engine. The fulcrum needs to be about 2.5" 'inside' of where the original part bolted on...      
  - Canted Rudders -      

I really like the look of this, and am scratching my head trying to figure out how to have my cake and eat it. Straight rudders are great when they're up.. else boarding may be tricky! Also they're better when moored to a wall as any flapping about could be potentially painfull!

So how do I design a bracket that can be easily changed from parallel to canted without having to adjust the steering bow length... at least I know that with the ball joints I've sorted the problem of non-right angle pivot points on the rudder brackets.

  The thought of sailing with some better bite when heeling is really appealing. I know I have the old rudder shape that is not so hot.. I may well do some increasing of blade size when I get more feedback from the Rocky Racoon river rudder sea trials.. Proper cleavers! I may even just copy these if they work well.