Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Steering Gear

One of the tasks that requires completion before the hull is decked is the fitting of the steering gear.  Said gear runs the range from the practical - clothesline run through zinc-plated blocks - to the sublime - sailboat systems manufactured by Edson Marine.  I admit I appreciate well-engineered systems.  Edson had me as soon as I received their catalog.  The heavy bronze quadrants; the exquisite sheaves - what could I do?  I had to throw money at them ...

After mounting the rudder, I came up with a system of blocks to act on the rudder.  A port-side helm station was always the idea.  The problem than became how to run the cables to the sheaves and the rudder quadrant.  This first picture is the helm station, with the steering chain and cables emerging from its aft side.

A standard Edson bulkhead gear will mount on the box, with the proper fine wood and all.  The standard taper didn't fit an antique wheel I received from Greenwich, UK, so we had to take the thing apart and machine the shaft.  (I'm still not sure whether or not I'll use the brake, though it is set up for it.)  The cables then lead aft to No. Four frame, in the foreground here, where two standard four-inch idler sheaves were set up to maintain the cable's suspension around the corner.

Here's another picture of the No. Four sheave mount:

Swapping orientation of the cables was then in order, as seen above, so that the bow swings in the proper direction with the wheel.  Piercing No. Five bulkhead got me into the rudder compartment proper where I could thread the blocks which act upon the quadrant.  Here's a shot of the stern compartment with the cables under temporary tension in order to see how the whole rig works:

It was pleasing to manipulate the chain at the helm box and watch the whole thing silently swing through its paces, without slop.  After determining that things would work, I then disassembled the cabling and idlers to seal the bulkheads where they were bored and to apply the correct fasteners.  Jibes are coming about "a rig that will sail around the Horn," etc., but I don't believe I'll be using the emergency tiller any time soon.

It will soon be time to finish decking ...