View RSS Feed

"Fresh Air"

Emergency Tiller (wheel-steered boat)

Rate this Entry

A blog entry for the emergency tiller probably should have accompanied the earlier blog about accessing the rudder head under the screw-out deck plate. Since that time I have taken some photos of the emergency tiller apparatus.
Appending some of my earlier writeup in a Thread, We found this factory assembly (two parts, actually) rattling round in the aft port laz. of our boat during the clean up, just after purchasing our boat.

Ours is an aluminum tube with a slot on the bottom to engage the cross-bar in the top of the rudder post. There's a hole thru the top - must be about an inch. A cross piece of alum. tubing goes through this so that the distressed skipper can force the rudder to turn one way or the other, if he has strong arms.

Note that I added a "tether" connecting both pieces. I would hate to lose the small tube while trying to insert in the larger one while the boat is rolling around.

Both pieces seem thick walled, but I have not measured them..

If starting over, I would make the top piece (i.e. the tiller piece) as long as possible, given whatever room it needs to clear the wheel base. Or, design it with a U shape that would allow it to go around the wheel pedistal and give some useable torque and grip. Note that Ericson's of this vintage will have their access plate on the cockpit sole.

If I had a larger supply of "druthers" I would have a full rudder head fitting, needing only the insertion of the tiller, for a Real back up plan. Since some Olson's were delivered with tillers, they could have left that fitting in place with a cover over it for sitting while driving with the wheel. Oh Well.

**Sidebar: remember that you likely will also need a decent size "bolt cutter" on board as well. Since, the most likely way you will lose steering is that the old steering cable will break or jam into the axle of the turning sheaves. Unless you have a ton of sea room and matching amounts of time to dismantle the cable steering, you will have to access the tight quarters under the cockpit from the cramped area in the rear of your quarter berth and cut away the jammed cables in order to use the emergency tiller.

I relocated our emergency tiller into the starboard aft hanging locker. There was room behind the locker frame on the left side. I padded the bottom of it and the top, and provided a way to tie it in via an eye strap & a small jam cleat for easy removal. The cross bar fits inside the larger tubing. This has been secure yet accessible for well over a decade, and does not impede access to that hanging locker.
Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	crossbar steerer in place.jpg 
Views:	93 
Size:	76.2 KB 
ID:	20676   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Tiller assembled.jpg 
Views:	106 
Size:	84.0 KB 
ID:	20678   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	tiller stored in aft lkr.jpg 
Views:	84 
Size:	45.0 KB 
ID:	20679   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Stored with padding.jpg 
Views:	87 
Size:	65.2 KB 
ID:	20677  

Submit "Emergency Tiller (wheel-steered boat)" to Digg Submit "Emergency Tiller (wheel-steered boat)" to Submit "Emergency Tiller (wheel-steered boat)" to StumbleUpon Submit "Emergency Tiller (wheel-steered boat)" to Google Submit "Emergency Tiller (wheel-steered boat)" to Face Book

Updated 12-10-2016 at 09:28 AM by Loren Beach

Tags: None Add / Edit Tags


  1. Christian Williams's Avatar
    I've always figured I would put tackles on each side of the reversed emergency tiller and control it with them. Because you're right, it would take Superman to steer that short piece of aluminum by hand.

    We once lost steering on a big Taiwanese ketch, and the emergency tiller was under the bed in the owner's stateroom. Couldn't see out!
  2. footrope's Avatar
    Buy a good quality bolt cutter and try it out on stainless steel wire rope. The cheap one I bought and have carried for some years won't cut the 3/16" steering wires. I just tried it on Thursday. I have a feeling that it won't touch wire rope standing rigging either. For the confines of the steering space, a cutting wheel on a dremel type tool might be better. Hacksaws are difficult to use on limp cables. Diagonal wire cutters are effective but slow when gnawing through these thinner wire ropes.
  3. Loren Beach's Avatar
    Perhaps poor practice to respond to my own blog, but I just noticed Christian's excellent thread entry on this subject and wanted to link up the subject matter.