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Tiller shake


MHS
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We have been experiencing tiller shake recently which increases with larger steering inputs. 
There is no play in the swan neck/rudder stock and there is no weed/rubbish hanging off the leading edge of the rudder. I can’t find any nicks or evidence of a bent prop, though this is only through the weed hatch. 
Any ideas as to what may be causing it please?

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Just now, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Are you on an unusually shallow canal at the moment, compared with where you usually cruise? That can bring it on with my boat.

 

As can trying to go faster than the canal depth and width allows for your boat.

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Possibly the bottom bearing / cup below the rudder is worn, this is usually just a plain steel fitting, possibly a loose joint where the shaft above the rudder is bolted to the shaft through the counter if you have that arrangement. Possibly bent prop although you would feel that through your teeth as well as the tiller. Maybe an anode on the rudder falling off if you have one or two?

Edited by Bee
added a bit
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2 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Are you on an unusually shallow canal at the moment, compared with where you usually cruise? That can bring it on with my boat.

Sadly not, it’s been doing it on the river Severn too. It is a little worse on a shallow canal too. 

2 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

As can trying to go faster than the canal depth and width allows for your boat.

It all does it when winding, or when manoeuvring a tight bend and going dead slow. 

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2 hours ago, Bee said:

Possibly the bottom bearing / cup below the rudder is worn, this is usually just a plain steel fitting, possibly a loose joint where the shaft above the rudder is bolted to the shaft through the counter if you have that arrangement. Possibly bent prop although you would feel that through your teeth as well as the tiller. Maybe an anode on the rudder falling off if you have one or two?

We wondered about the bottom cup too.  We have a 7 year old Mike Christian shell and would hope this wouldn’t cause a problem yet. There’s not any movement when giving the swan neck a really good tug. I suppose we may have given the rudder a knock at some time to loosen it though. We are due for blacking soon, but hoped to cure it in the meantime. 
 

Thank you for all the suggestions so far. 

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10 hours ago, Bee said:

Possibly the bottom bearing / cup below the rudder is worn, this is usually just a plain steel fitting, possibly a loose joint where the shaft above the rudder is bolted to the shaft through the counter if you have that arrangement. Possibly bent prop although you would feel that through your teeth as well as the tiller. Maybe an anode on the rudder falling off if you have one or two?

There is a company marketing a bottom bearing the other way up. A pin on the skeg and a socket on the rudder, the argument being you wont get grit and sediment in there to accelerate wear 

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3 hours ago, Peter Thornton said:

Does the top bearing have a grease nipple? In which case, pump some grease in. 
if not (assuming it’s a metal bearing) think about fitting one?

You will be lucky if a grease nipple in the casting lines up with any grease gallery in the bearing, most bearings are now ZZ and sealed for life. They don't say how long the life is.

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Anyway, a lack of grease is unlikely to cause tiller shake, vibration and noise yes, but not actual shaking about.

 

As many narrowboats have the rudder stock set at an angle to the vertical, the grease nipple is unlikely to align with the small groove around a modern bearing unless it sticks out to one side. In the front the groove will be too high and at the back too low.

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11 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 As many narrowboats have the rudder stock set at an angle to the vertical, the grease nipple is unlikely to align with the small groove around a modern bearing unless it sticks out to one side. In the front the groove will be too high and at the back too low.

I am not sure then if it actually feeds into the ball race or just lubricates the self aligning bit.

Edited by ditchcrawler
spilling
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10 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

I am not sure then if it actually feeds into the ball race or just lubricates the self aligning bit.

When I did mine about three years ago I think I saw a small hole and thought that it would not allow much grease into the bearing. Pity it seems impossible to get a rubber/plastic ball version with the same mounting size and centres.

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We haven’t got a grease nipple, the Mike Christian shell has a sealed bearing. I have on a couple of occasions poured oil down as felt it couldn’t do any harm. 

9C2618AC-452B-45BE-808B-EA8489743863.jpeg

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I think that those bearings are nylon as if not used for a while the plastic swells a bit and they tighten up. There will be the same one on the bottom, neither being greaseable.

 

Cold water may make the rudder shudder, it does me when I get in.

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2 hours ago, Sea Dog said:

Surely you've not been underwater to look? That's taking environmental awareness to a new level! Greta will be proud of you... :D

I think you will find oil usually floats on top of water, so it would be very obvious. Greta can sleep soundly!

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53 minutes ago, MHS said:

I think you will find oil usually floats on top of water, so it would be very obvious. Greta can sleep soundly!

As the bottom of the rudder tube is below the water level any oil floating on top will stay there until there is sufficient turbulence to drag it out or you put enough in that the weight of it displaces the water

 

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9 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

As the bottom of the rudder tube is below the water level any oil floating on top will stay there until there is sufficient turbulence to drag it out or you put enough in that the weight of it displaces the water

 

I‘ve never added a lot, but will keep an eye out, just in case. 

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19 hours ago, Slim said:

When I get home later today I will come back with my experience of this actual problem. 

I experienced tiller shake for a number of years and tried to cure it without success. New flexible mounts, R & D coupling replaced with a Sigma Drive coupling, new bottom cup, new top bearing, prop balanced by Crowthers, apparent very very slight bow in rudder blade corrected and I'm sure several other things which slip my mind. Any number of people, expert and lay, gave their opinions but no one could cure the issue. Everyone agreed that there was very little if any wear in the stern tube/prop shaft. Over time the stern gland started to drip more and need more frequent repacking. Two years ago the leak increased rapidly and I aborted a local cruise. On the slip I stripped the stern gear down and found that the 1.5" prop shaft had worn down to under 1.2" in the area of the seal. Once out of the boat it was obvious that there was a fair amount of wear between the shaft  and the tube. This wear was not evident with the parts in situ. Since then (Sept 19) all my trips have been on the South Oxford (shallow) but so far as I can see the shake problem has been resolved. 

 

Should add that I've had the hull from new (self fitout) and that the stern gear and engine beds were installed by the builder (Eastward Engineering) before delivery.    

Edited by Slim
additional info
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