Difficulty Steering The 'Toon

Published in the October 2012 Issue October 2012

Engaging with other `toon loving people is priceless, especially when they can offer you great advice free of charge. Next time you have a question, test out our boat junkies for their expert thoughts and opinions.

[Larry] asked an interesting question about pontoon steering: I have a 2005 25-foot Premier and the steering is getting a little harder to turn both ways. I have greased the fittings by the motor every year since buying the boat brand new. I looked for a grease fitting under the dash but didn't see any. On top of the steering unit under the dash is a metal plate with four bolts holding it on. If I take that plate off, which would be a chore, can I put some kind of lube on the cable and let it seep down over a period of time to help loosen it up? This is the first issue I've had with the boat since buying it. My boat has the bottom covered so it would be a job changing the cables out. What kind of lube is the best to use?

We can always count on [WoodenPontoon] for good ideas: What type of steering system do you have? There are products available for lubricating the steering cable. Max-Lube is one of them. You should be able to get some at any marine supply store.

[Moser] was quick to add his thoughts on the subject: Sadly, once these cables start to bind up it's really not too common to see them free up again. I have also found that they often bind because they have too much grease pumped into them and it hardens up. I would not try to lube it at the rack, I don't think it will help. Sometimes some heat from a heat gun applied to the last foot or so at the engine will melt some of the grease out and free the cable up. Be prepared to deal with the mess created by melting grease running out the end of the tube. You could slide the cable out of the motor and hang the end in a 5-gallon bucket. Again be prepared to deal with the mess when the cable comes out of the tube, as it will bring a lot of grease with it. It will also probably leave a lot of grease on, in and around the tube and where the outboard turns. Apply the heat to the cable and have someone turn the wheel from stop to stop very gently while the excess grease works its way out. Be careful to not heat the cable too hot; you want to be able to still touch it, but get it good and warm. If you have pumped a tube of grease in there in the last seven years it is most likely all still in there.

You might be better off just trying to change the cable. The cable sometimes runs on top of the tube in the M bracket and if yours is there it isn't too hard to fish out. The rack cables are about $100 without the helm, and you can maybe pull it one way or the other with the old one. You could also use the old one to pull a piece of 3/8- or 1/2-inch line through and pull the new one back in with that.

I'm afraid you'll find that this cable will stay tight and get tighter until you replace it. Sorry.

Luckily for Larry, other forum members also jumped in to offer their advice. Want to see what they had to say? Go to www.pdbmagazine.com, click on the link to the forums and then view Pontoon General for the rest of the feedback.

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