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Hi all

I am looking to recondition the steering system on my Tiki 38. The current system is cobbled together and looks to have had a chain system which has been converted to a drum to take rope at the helm. This slips when under load no matter what the tension. It could be dangerous in difficult conditions.

As I bought the boat, I do not have plans for the original system. I have seen some photos and descriptions of different setups on this website however can't find enough detail to confidently construct a new system.

Does anyone have any detailed photos of their working steering setup or know where there is more info on the net? I am hoping to keep the system as simple as possible. I live in a remote part of Western Australia and it is hard to get good advice about these matters.

I would be glad of any help.


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There are several possible reasons for slippage. The drum could be too small a diameter. The drum surface and or rope could be too slick. There could be some resistance or binding somewhere in the system. Spectra or Dynex is very good for steering lines as it doesn't stretch much. It is however very slick as well. You can glue some rubber sheeting (inner tube works well) onto the drum.Some folks have glued ridges onto the surface of the drum to provide some bite and some folks have non-skidded the drum for better traction. Just my thoughts.
Hello David

I have not yet completed my steering system with a chain and lines. Present time I'm plunged in the paint of all the outside of the boat. In a few weeks, as soon as I'll have finished it, I'll post some pictures.

Thanks Andy- sounds like some good advice. I have noticed that there are only three wraps around the drum- it looks like there should be four or more- is that your understanding?

Also, without measuring it, i would say that my drum is about 80mm in diameter- does that sound like enough?

Looks very flash Neil! Thanks for direction to this page. It looks similar to Charlie's set-up on this site.

I do appreciate the Wharram simplicity and the ability to repair things while underway though.

This system that you refer to does not appear to allow for rudder angle variation according to the Ackermen priciple- do you think that matters? I have read varying accounts about this on the net- My boat has been modified to include a wheelhouse and extra deck space where the netting would be aft of the pod. While it is a compromise for weight and ocean going ability, I find this space very useful up here in Broome Western Australia where swell and wind are less of an issue than in more southern climes. We do a lot of living out of the comfort of the wheelhouse up in the breeze and have our galley and fridge up there. I am considering extending the deck further aft (like Charlie's boat 'Times Two' on this site) and then shortening the tiller arms to create more space however the steering system would need modification and issues relating to the Ackermen principle would come in to play.

Are you or anyone else able to comment on steering design where there is no allowance for the Ackermen principle or where the tiller arms have been shortened on a Wharram Tiki 38?


Hi All,

Was wondering if there were any updates with regard to steering systems.


I built my rudders (T38) about a year ago, and now as I dry fit all the units I have found the following. Although there is a picture of a aft netting beam in the plans, the rudders are not tall enough, i.e the tillers won't clear the aft beam as you turn (they drop). A frustrating problem, but not the first.


This puts me in a position where I effectively have a lot of choices with regards to my steering system. It would appear everyone has different systems, and I have yet to even see a system as per plans!

Maybe someone can come up with ideas, has anyone progressed in this area?


Ideal Steering System For T38 (in my eyes!)

Open wire system using quadrants mounted on top of rudders similar to Jim Brown cats/tris.

This has the advantage of keeping system in cockpit as per plans, simple. It frees up the aft deck from the tillers. One is able to de tension the system so a wind vane can be used (running off trim tabs), no tiller bar, so system stays as light as possible

The problem are as follows. Initial complexity in design. So far I have contacted 4 well know companies who, when they find out it is a wharram and that I live in SA, the converstion ends.

A Haudraulic system is relatively off the shelf, the end result similar to Natural High, but I cannot see how a wind vane is going to push a 'no feedback' hydraulic system without disconnection the rudders, which is not a great thing to have to do everytime.


I have seen the windvanes in operation and they are great. I just cannot seem to join my rudders and trim tabs to the wheel. And my aft deck design is on hold!

Any imput would be appreciated and the odd pic would be great.




Dan, I've modified the steering system of my Tiki46 mainly to free the after beam area from the too much  long tillers.

Initially I thought to use a hydraulic system and after searches I choose to put a traditional steering system using a chain which has with my configuration to use only 2 pulleys.

The system is very direct with no friction : out of water when I turn the wheel, it comes back alone on the neutral position if I free it (on my previous Tiki 30 if I free the tiller, it refused to stay in the neutral position due to the weight of the tillers + beam tillers connection which were too heavy comparing the weight of the rudders according the 30° inclination of it axis).

Here are a few photos, the system seems to work correctly althought only a rope connects the 2 short tillers together. But for the launching I'll  replace the rope by a light beam in order to be able to steer the boat if the system is damaged in using an emergency tiller.


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