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Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:53am

Post Subject: Tiller Problem

My 38ft narrowboat was built by Liverpool boats in 1995. As you turn the tiller to change direction there is a lot of freeplay where the tiller is not engaging with the rudder. Could you advise what technique is used to connect the tiller with the rudder and speculate on the likley cause of the problem. Can the tiller be removed and refitted whilst the craft is in the water.


Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:20pm

Post Subject: Tiller Problem

Dear Peter, as I do not have a 1995 Liverpool boats boat and can not recall seeing one out of the water I can not be too specific. Play in the tiller has two common causes. The first is play/wear in the upper or lower bearing and if that is what it is there is probably no need to do anything about it until the next blacking. However you specifically state play between the tiller and rudder. I assume you mean the rudder blade because if it was play at the point where the swan neck is joined to the rudder stock it is in clear view and the cause would be obvious. This is potentially far more serious because something has become loose or unattached and at any time you could get total steering failure. For remote diagnosis this problem requires an intimate knowledge of exactly how the rudder assembly is put together. The blade may be bolted into a slotted rudder stock (shaft) and if so the bolts may have broken or become lose. The blade may be tack welded into a slotted stock and in this case the welds may have failed. I have seen some boats where there is a coupling of some sort immediately above the blade so the blade can be removed from the boat without taking the swan neck off. In this case the coupling device may be filing. The best thing to do is to get down the weed hatch and while someone gently waggles the tiller you feel about to see if you can find out where the slack is and what is causing it. I suspect you may need at least the stern of the boat out of the water to effect a decent repair. Sorry. Tony Brooks

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