steering noise

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been searching the archives for a bit but couldn't find my problem, when i steer, there is a squeaking noise coming from the wheel, I sprayed wd 40 on the shaft where it goes in the binnacle but didn't help,
also my autohelm 4000 moves my boat wherever it feels going, related? I don't know, I am going to remove that cover in the aft cabin and take a look, also when going straight ahead in calm seas the wheel wants to turn port when I let go of it.  any Ideas?  sure miss my autohelm
Bob Gatz, 1988 catalina 34, Hull#818, "Ghostrider" sail lake superior Apostle Islands



If the boat tend to go to one side, maybe it does not sit level sideway.  And make go to one side.

Or, the rudder post could be bent a bit.
1989 MKI #970
   _/)  Free Spirit

Ken Juul

If the noise goes away with the auto helm off, it is an auto helm problem.  IIRC the manual say's the drive assembly should be flushed monthly.  Before I put a new rudder in, my boat was pulling hard to port also.  shaft was straight, just corroded about half way through at the lower bearing, assume the compromised shaft was flexing under the influence of the prop wash.  It was ok sailing, motoring was a PITA.
Ken & Vicki Juul
Luna Loca #1090
Chesapeake Bay
Past Commodore C34IA

Stu Jackson

Boats tend to pull that way when motoring due to the rotation of the propeller.

Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

"There is no problem so great that it can't be solved."

Dave Spencer

Before removing the rear panel in the aft cabin, you may want to remove the binnacle compass and have a look at the sprocket and chain to see if that's where the squeak is coming from.  It may also be a worn or improperly adjusted wheel brake that you can also see with the compass removed.
Stu is right (as usual) about steering under power.  Unless you are going very slowly (<2 kts or so) the wheel will pull to one side due to prop forces.
I don't know what to say about the AH4000.  Have you tried recalibrating?  Mine worked well for many years but near the end of its life, it would do a "Crazy Ivan" and turn hard to starboard after a few hours of operation.  I replaced it a couple of years ago.
Dave Spencer
C34 #1279  "Good Idea"
Mk 1.5, Std Rig, Wing Keel, M35A Engine
Boat - Midland, Ontario (formerly Lion's Head)
People - London, Ontario

Ron Hill

Bob : That pull is normal as Stu said.

If you pull the compass and look for that squeak be careful not to openly spray WD 40.  If you get some WD40 on the Wheel Break it will negate its friction capability and it won't hold anymore.  Spray carefully!!

Be interested in what you find when you pull that Dog House in the aft cabin. 

A thiught
Ron, Apache #788

Fred Koehlmann

Before taking everything apart, don't forget to look into the aft lockers. I'm not sure if the MkIs are the same as the MkIIs, but one time we had some gear shift and it was restricting the rudder shaft wheel from moving freely. One day I'll either put in a separator, or maybe just clear some of the stuff out. :)
Frederick Koehlmann: Dolphina - C425 #3, Midland, ON
PO: C34 #1602, M35BC engine

Ron Hill

Guys : There was an alert put out by Edson on changing the bronze idler pins to stainless on the early 1986- 1990s?  steering systems.   

There was also an article on this same topic in the Boat US magazine.  The old bronze pins wear and have failed on some steering systems.  The Boat US article pictured some VERY worn pins!!

Easy to check out when you remove the aft cabin dog house!!  It's good preventative maintenance to keep those idler pins/sheaves lubed ! 

A few thoughts
Ron, Apache #788


I replaced my idler pins earlier this year. When doing so, Edson told me NOT to overtighten the cables.  They said this could cause premature wear.  I am wondering if it would also cause a squeaky wheel.

Also, if i leave my wheel break slightly tightened, i get a squeak.  I am sure that you have checked to be sure that it is loose, but have you checked that the actual break pads have pulled back?
Steve Pembleton
Holland, MI
1986 Mk1 Fin, Tall

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails."


Thank you all, just got home from the boat, I removed the compass cover and I can see the top of the chain, I put some 30 weight oil on it, I didn't want to take the time to remove those 4 screws and dig deeper as I would have to disconnect shifting and throttle linkage, (had people on board the whole time that wanted to get out on the water) I have traced the squeek to the belt cover on the auto helm rubbing, I removed the dog house and looked at those bronze pins but cant tell if they are wore out unless I remove them, if they are bad would the pully wiggle? they are tight, so everything seems ok there, I don't remember the pull to port on my steering before this year.  As far as the autohelm I am afraid I am at a loss on how to fix, I will try to recalibrate it when I get time, one day it worked, the next day it didn't, not sure what would cause it to de calibrate just sitting there, thank you all for your input
Bob Gatz, 1988 catalina 34, Hull#818, "Ghostrider" sail lake superior Apostle Islands


Glad to hear you found the source of the problem. IMHO, I would still put replacement of the brass idler pins on your maintenence list.  Using the emergency tiller is not fun! From what i have heard, when one goes, they go without notice.  Pins are relatively cheap and will only take a hour max to change.  Just dont overtighten the cables when done.
Steve Pembleton
Holland, MI
1986 Mk1 Fin, Tall

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails."


FYI- I changed my pins to SS without having to touch the cables. Also, my old brass pins when inspected after removal looked in fine shape, with no visable wear. Oh well, as they say "better safe than sorry."
1990 hull #1014, San Diego, CA,  Fin Keel,
Standard Rig