Please help with seized steering cable problem

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by nopeda, May 26, 2019.

  1. nopeda
    Joined: Aug 2013
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    Location: GA

    nopeda Junior Member

    I have an old 1968 Lazy Days Sportsman houseboat 43 ft. long 12 ft. wide with a fly bridge. It is a single engine inboard with no out drive but it has a propeller and a rudder. It hasn't been taken out for about 5 years but the last time it was used the steering worked smooth and easy. Now I'm trying to get it going again and am finding that the steering seems to be seized up. From below and above I can turn the wheels about 1/3 of a rotation and then they become so hard to move I'm afraid to push any farther. When I let go it's sort of like a slow spring action and pushes them back to about the same position they started in. I disconnected the rudder at the back and that moves very smoothly and easily. The exposed inner rod part of the cable back there had a lot of old dried out grease which I cleaned off with acetone but the rod doesn't appear to move when I turn the wheels. At this point it seems to me that the cable is probably bound up at the back and compresses or sort of stretches a bit when I turn the wheels and the long length is what makes the springy effect. Two videos I've watched seem to provide possible methods of working through this without the horrific job of trying to replace the entire cable.




    The first suggests getting vice grips to turn the fitting at the and of the cable and un-seizing it that way. The second at around 4:20 suggests heating the end of the cable to soften the dried out grease. Do any of you folks have experience with this problem and recommendations on how to overcome it without replacing the entire cable?

    Thank you for any suggestions!

    David
     
  2. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Check for swelling of the cable casing. Rust can cause expansion and gripping of the cable. Some suggest brake fluid to free them, but often you need a new steering cable.
     
  3. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    Copy and paste from the other site.

    Before fixing it you need to know that if it’s from rust in the cable it should be replaced.

    What I've done.

    Disconnect the cable at the helm, get a couple feet of hose or tubing that will slide over the cable and fit tight, a hose clamp can be used if needed.

    Put a funnel in the end of the hose and fill it with a solvent that will break down the grease, or oil, it works, just takes longer.

    Fill the tube and wait, check it every day and refill it. It can take a while, but it will clean it out and leave it working smooth. If you used solvent you need to follow up with a heavy oil, I use gear oil.
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Trying to repair a seized cable is a very bad idea. Think about what could happen if it seizes at high speed. A whole steering system (cable and helm) costs less than $150.
     
  5. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    ondarvr Senior Member

    I’m not sure if a cable for a 43’ is $150. Might be a hassle to replace too. If it’s just dried out grease it will be safe after cleaning. If Rusted, then replace.
     
  6. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

  7. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Visual inspection should be the first step. If there is swelling or distortion of the cable casing, or cracking is evident, it is due for replacement, and trying to free it up will be probably a waste of time.
     
  8. nopeda
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    nopeda Junior Member

  9. nopeda
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    nopeda Junior Member

    As the guy in the first video suggested I tried turning the cable at the rear end and it turns easily within the housing, but I can't get it to pull or push. Also can't find any writing that tells what system it is on the rectangular boxes attached to the steering column. I'd like to disconnect the fly bridge from the lower console to see if it's seized up there, but don't know how to take it apart and with no writing so far don't know how to try to find out.
     
  10. nopeda
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    nopeda Junior Member

    I would like to try doing that and also to disconnect the fly bridge from the lower console to see if the problem is between them. If so at least I can operate the boat from below and if a new cable is required it would be a lot cheaper and easier to just replace the cable going from fly bridge down below. But I don't understand what I'm looking at yet and how to disconnect things without causing even more problems. I haven't been able to find any writing on the system identifying what it is or who manufactured it. There are long rectangular boxes mounted to the steering columns, but maybe they are all like that? I'll go start searching for boat cable steering systems for 1968 houseboats and power boats and see if anything looks familiar.
     
  11. nopeda
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    nopeda Junior Member

    I'm trying to upload a picture of the steering system in hopes that someone will recognize it and let me know what it is.
    houseboat steering.jpg
    This is from the lower console inside the living room and you can see that there are two rectangular boxes both have cables that come out of them the one on the left goes up to the fly bridge and the one on the right goes down into the hull and then to the back of the boat.
     
  12. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    The odds are the steering has been replaced several times over the years. I'd advise careful inspection of the cable casing near the engine, look for cracking, swelling etc. Or straighten it out after removal from the engine, and see if it loosens. Also, the swivel pin on your motor might be stiff or seized.
     
  13. nopeda
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    nopeda Junior Member

    It doesn't attach to the motor. There is no out drive. There is a propeller and a rudder. The rudder moves smoothly and easily and where I detached the cable from the rudder the cable itself turns easily within the casing but I can't get it to pull out or push back in. I also can't figure out which bolts to remove in order to detach the other ends from the steering. I'm afraid if I take the wrong things apart it will make everything worse if everything goes to pieces I don't know how to get back together.
     
  14. nopeda
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    nopeda Junior Member

    In case anyone in the future runs into this same issue the four bolts in the middle of the rectangular box above remove it from the steering column. In my case that disconnected the fly bridge from below. That's where I was hoping the problem was, so of course it's not. With it disconnected, from below it's still locked up like before and from above everything turns free and easy.
     

  15. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    At least you now know where the problem is not.
     
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