Steering System Maintenance

Here we step through the steering system on the Nordhavn 52, showing some of the wear points and the changes we have made to minimize these issues.

Finally, we show the removal and replacement of the hydraulic steering rod end. This is the part that transfers force between the hydraulic cylinder and the steering arm. We show how to change it since they typically only last 1,500 to 2,500 hours in heavy use.





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20 comments on “Steering System Maintenance
  1. Alec Peterson says:

    This video was really instructive, but I’m most interested in how you addressed not having the bolt shear off as it was wearing down during your trans-Atlantic crossing. How did you do that with the boat underway and in stormy seas?

    • We had a spare bolt on board and were able to replace it before it failed. As long as the bolt is torqued sufficiently, there will be no flex or motion and there should be no wear under normal operation. But we do have a couple of spares on board. Replacing the bolt is normally fairly easy but in rough seas there is considerable rudder load and movement so it did require some care and patience to make the change.

  2. Ed Fisher says:

    As an aerospace design engineer I was disappointed in the original bolt/nut design. For something where torque is of any concern to the joint we would never use a nut with a hole in for exactly the reason you state: you cannot get the torque right.

    The reason the spherical bearing is failing is not because of improper torque, in my opinion. It’s because the teflon lining is wearing out from all the dynamic loading in a seaway. Essentially, the bearing is undersized. Get one that has a metal bearing with a grease fitting. It will have triple the capacity for the same size.

    • Yes, I think you are right. These designs evolve and I could imagine how that one came to be. If the nut comes off, it’s a potentially catastrophic problem. There are lots of good solutions to that problem but drilling a hole through the nut and installing a cotter pin is unquestionably effective. I suspect the down-the-road service and the potential for wear and parts size variability wasn’t given sufficient thought. I’m guilty myself of not thinking the issue through. I agree with you that the cotter pin, although initially effective, isn’t an acceptable solution and the Aerospace segment is full of mission critical good solutions that stay safe over time. Thanks for passing on your thoughts.

  3. Howard says:

    Loving these videos. Even without a boat! Hopefully, someday I’ll have a Nordhavn and can put the learning to use. Inching closer to zero brokerage boats available in size range I’ve been interested in.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Good luck in getting things lined up to get a boat yourself. For sure, getting a boat has given us some amazing experiences but they will also leave a noticeable gap in the pocket book. Totally worth it but, to make a boat worth purchasing, you have to use it frequently.

  4. Erik Reid says:

    As a helicopter mechanic its always interesting to see how other people do maintenance in different fields. Little tips and tricks are surprisingly universal. (The two adjustable wrenches was definitely cringe worthy in a normal setting lol, but completely acceptable given your lack of space on a boat). Looking up a general torque spec for a given type of hardware is not something you see many people do. Usually the German torque of “Gooddentight” is used. Nice to see you go the extra mile. I do have a question. The plate below the rod end bolt. If it is not structural, have you considered drilling an access hole in it to allow you to get a socket on the nuts from underneath? That and a deep socket would make removing and reinstalling the nuts much easier.

    • Jacques Vuye says:

      Speaking of which: Is there any reason not to mount this bolt with its head down , and the nuts on top.
      There would be no problem then to use the socket and torque wrench on both the nut, and the lock nut ?
      Am I missing something?

      • No, nothing at all wrong with doing that and I considered it but I don’t find it aesthetically pleasing and it catches on my clothing when I’m reaching over it. So, your suggestion is probably the easiest to execute upon and would be structurally identical but non-technical issues led me away from that approach. Nice solution.

        • Jacques Vuye says:

          So what (wrench) size are these nuts?
          I think i may have an idea to cap them… ;)

          • The wrench size is 1 1/8″. I’m going to declare this job complete at this point and switch my focus to getting spare parts. I’ve got a request into FK Bearings to see if they would be willing to do a 3/4″ rod end with a 7/8″ threaded hole. Failing that, I’ve found a source of the original steering manufacturer (Sea Star Solutions) part which I think is just a standard 3/4″ rod end that has been done as a custom manufacturer run with a 7/8″ hole. Since I can get the Sea Star Solutions part for about 2x what a standard part costs, I may just head down that path for expediency.

    • That’s a really nice and simple solution that I definitely should have thought of earlier. Technically, it is a structural component but a hole large enough for a 1/2″ extension wouldn’t have a negative impact upon it. But given the frequency I need to change the part isn’t that high (1,500 to 2,500 hours) and the hassle of drilling a 3/4″ hole through 1/4″ plate stainless steel, I might just stick with the current approach even though yours is much more elegant. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Chris Barber says:

      I was going to say the same thing about the hole in the plate the instant I saw the configuration! I would even go so far as to design a fitting that would hold a socket on a jackscrew through that hole so that you’d drop the socket through the hole onto the jackscrew, line the rod end up on the hole, and jack the socket up onto the bottom fastener so that it would hold it for you while you tighten the bolt from the top with the torque wrench. I’m a convenience overachiever, I know!!

      • I think I’m going to declare this job done and just focus on getting a few spares of that rod end. I have a request to FK bearings for a custom part which I think they probably won’t want to do. I may just buy 3x of the OEM parts which look like a custom production run on standard 3/4″ rod ends.

  5. Jacques Vuye says:

    As always, interesting to see how you take care of “mission critical” components. I’ll have to take a close look in my Machinery’s Hanbook to see wether your idea of boring out and re-threading theso called “sprint car” component to the larger size.
    Will keep you posted

    • Hey Jacques! Given the manufacturer supplied part has exactly the same outside dimensions as the 3/4-16TPI part, I’m thinking it’s highly likely that there manufacturing process is to either take a 3/4-16TPI part and re-cutting it to 7/8-14TPI or to just pay the manufacture to do a special run with larger bore and thread size. Given this part lasts 1,500 to 2,500 hours, it may not be worth the hassle to change but I’m always interested in what it would take to do it better.

  6. Eric Meslow says:

    Wrong video! Watched that one last week! :)

  7. Trond Saetre says:

    Nice to see some technical DIY videos.
    A great way to learn.

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