Rudder & Cable Safety

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by Steven Gates

CABLE BASICS
I have had quite a few canoes in my shop with broken cables, some of which were caught out in the open ocean when it happened. For safety sake I think it is important for paddlers to be familiar with the steering systems of our OC1s. The basics...

The rudder shaft goes through a tube in the hull, and on the deck side has a bell crank machined so as to lock on the rudder shaft, usually with a lock nut and washer securing it. (Hurricanes are different, more later). The 1/16" stainless steel cable is attached to this bell crank by looping through a hole encased in plastic tubing and then crimped to itself with a copper sleeve, and covered with heat shrink tubing. The cable runs through plastic tubing on the inside of the boat, emerging and attaching to the foot pedals. Older boats used the same loop method to attach to the pedals, but most newer boats simply run the cable through a same diameter hole in the pedals, and crimp on a sleeve on the back side.

INSPECTION
Inspection of your cables as well as the entire steering system should be routine. Look carefully at the cable where it goes through the pedal, and at the crimp fitting. Look for excessive rust/corrosion (not just discoloration), and particularly for broken wires in the cable. This is a definite indication that it is time to get new cables. Look also at the rudder end of the cables, for excessive corrosion that is bursting the heat shrink tubing. Also, check the nut (or screw on Hurricane) for tightness, and check the pedals as well for looseness or anything suspicious. Should you ever lose steering while paddling, you must somehow lock the rudder making it easier to steer with your paddle. Strips of inner tube rubber would work well for this.

SECURING THE RUDDER
On Hurricanes, the allen head screw securing the rudder, often comes loose. I replace the screw with a Phillips head 10 x 32 x 5/8" stainless steel screw and keep the lock washer from the original screw. Medium (blue) Loc-Tite on the threads help ensure a secure screw. On all canoes, you should be able to tighten the nut/screw without it "pinching" the boat itself. If there is too much up and down play, nylon or stainless washers can be used on the deck.

Posted by keizo on Thu, 03/27/2003 - 7:26am

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