Steering Reinforcement

steering.jpg (46470 bytes)We reinforced our steering to handle the loads of the windvane.  The shaft on our wheel goes between the helmsman's legs to a pinion gear on the quadrant.   It is a simple and strong design but the wheel is over 2 feet from the bronze bearing which was just screwed into a wooden block.  OK for normal hand steering but inadequate for any form of wheel steering autopilot. 

We had the bronze bearing mounted on a stainless plate which was then through bolted with fender washers to spread out the load.  We also had the drum for the windvane built with a new hub that allows it to mount directly to the shaft closer to the bearing.  This reduces the lateral moment but it is not very comfortable when we hand steer.  Everything is a compromise.

This set up worked well on the trip from NZ to Fiji but the hub, which is locked with set screws, slipped a little during very rough conditions.  It slipped very slowly so it didn't present a problem but we may to add a key to make a more positive lock.