Steering cable freezing

Discussion in 'Boat Tips' started by air4se, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. air4se

    air4se New Member

    Messages:
    14
    State:
    Jackson TN
    Can anyone tell me what you do to keep the steering cable from freezing other than staying home or fishing when it is warm. Today I had to go buy a torch and thaw the cable. Another guy had to sit in the boat in the water waiting for his boat to let go of the trailer. Yes it was cold but that doesn't stop me from fishin.

    Oh yeah, after 2 hours working on the steering I caught one fish all day. Still a good day. The river was full of chinese food from that semi that went off the I-40 bridge.

    Thanks!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

    Tim
     
  2. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    Tim, are you sure the problem is in the steering cable itself, or maybe water is in the shaft that the motor turns on? You said you used a torch to thaw, so I assume it's in the cable shaft/tube at the engine. You may need to clean the shaft and relube. At the temperatures you face, I would recommend a synthetic grease, or at least a teflon based one recommended by the dealer. Some grease gets very thick in cold weather, and also dries out with age, causing hard steering. Mine froze up once for that very reason, but since the dealer explained to me what to do and what grease to use, I haven't had any more problems. You may have a problem with viscosity, or could actually have moisture inside that is freezing.
    There is some information at: http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/bo_maintenance_repair/article/0,2021,DIY_13718_2278187,00.html that should be helpful to anyone doing maintenance on their steering. Some people mistakenly assume the grease fittings on the front of the steering tube are for the steering cable, but that is not the case. Those fittings are for the tilt hinges only. There are 1 or more on the steering tube also.
    I hope this will help you out, but I would suggest contacting your dealer/mechanic and ask them, too. They've probably seen it happen before.
     

  3. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,456
    State:
    IN
    Name:
    Winston
    Tim,
    when you say "freezing"do you mean that literally as in ice or do you mean gets really tight in the cold? If you are talking ice the answer is to prevent water getting into the cable in the first place but it sounds too late for that. This is usually a sign that the outer sheathing is broken or the little seal is missing from the end of the outer cable. Check that first. A cable nut with built in grease nipple will seal the motor end and allow you to get some lube in there. Use a good low temp grease. A lube that is very good in cold weather if you can find some is aircraft hydraulic fluid, it is unaffected by cold temps. If you mean the other then you probably have some grease in there that doesn't handle the cold and thickens up. This will need to be thinned out or pushed out. Again the aircraft fluid will help but if the grease is so thick it binds up the cable it may be difficult to get anything in or out of there. I found the cable nut to be a good thing to put on. Makes it very easy to give the cable a shot regularly. Hope this helps...W
     
  4. zappaf19

    zappaf19 New Member

    Messages:
    1,574
    State:
    Monticello,IN
    I had my boat in a heated barn for 2 days. The arm will move a bit but not much. Do ya think it is time for a new $165 cable?
    Bill
     
  5. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    Metalman, thanks for the comment about the nut for lubricating...it just reminded me that I have one of those out in the shop. I bought it when I first had trouble, but have never installed it. I'm making a note to remind myself to do so. They make a nut for both ends, and a synthetic liquid lubricant, but the steering tube has to be removed for installation, and on my boat that means the engine has to be removed to get clearance for removal of the steering tube, so I probably won't do that unless the engine has to be removed for some other reason. Since I had my earlier trouble, I clean and relube mine at least once a year, sometimes twice.
     
  6. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    Bill, I wouldn't think so. The grease may be dried out and stiff, as mentioned above, especially so if it hasn't been done regularly. I use my boat in saltwater a lot, so mine probably needs to be done more often than if I was only in fresh water. Go look at the link I posted above. It has pretty good instructions for cleaning and relubing the steering. I think if you will do that (or even pay someone at less that the cable cost) your problem will go away.
    If it is already frozen like you said, it may take awhile to get it completely freed up. Remove the nut from the end, have someone turn the wheel right as far as it will go, spray penetrating oil on the shaft, wipe with a rag, more penetrant, go left as far as possible, and keep repeating until it frees up, then follow the instructions on that web link. If you can't get it freed up enough, I would strongly suggest getting a marine mechanic to do it for you. It normally shouldn't be more than about an hour's work.
    Good Luck.
     
  7. air4se

    air4se New Member

    Messages:
    14
    State:
    Jackson TN
    The cable must have some water in it. The rod portion is clean and lubed. It moved freely yesterday but this morning I pulled it about 50 miles at 65 mph and it froze as in a liquid freeze. I can get to a large portion of the cable so would it be a good idea to take it loose and try to get some lubricant up into the cable? The wiper nut was fairly tight and did not appear to need replacing.

    This is the first winter that I have had this boat so no history to speak of. When I got it freed up it was fine the rest of the day so it is not corrosion, just moisture I think.

    thanks for the replies and I enjoy reading all the posts here. Anyone for some winter fishing?

    Tim
     
  8. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    Tim, it does sound like moisture. Maybe you could try spraying WD-40 or something like that into the cable and let it work it's way down deep. WD is supposed to displace water, not sure about that particular application, tho.
    Could the water possibly be at the other end, the steering wheel, or a low point in the cable housing, instead of the engine end? Just asking to be sure. I know you already said you heated it, so I guess not. Just throwing out possibilities.
    As for winter fishing, I'm for it, it's 28 deg outside right now, and that's cold for our area, especially this early in the evening. I am going by walmart tomorrow and see if I can find one of those small propane heaters to keep in the boat for a hand warmer, and some better gloves, if they have them. :)
     
  9. air4se

    air4se New Member

    Messages:
    14
    State:
    Jackson TN
    Anyone know if you can buy water line heating wrap that is powered by 12 volts? If so I could wrap the exposed cable and turn it on when traveling or before use... Just a thought.



    Tim
     
  10. zappaf19

    zappaf19 New Member

    Messages:
    1,574
    State:
    Monticello,IN
    Thanks I will give it a try before I spend the money!
    Bill
     
  11. Bubbakat

    Bubbakat New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    McMinnvill
    Tim I have cured this problem but it ain't easy.
    You need to take the steering cable all the way out and hang it up in a heated room and right next to the big nut that holds the cable in the steering tube I drill a small hole and let it drain. Then I force pb blaster down into the sheath where the sealed cable is and let soak for about 12 hrs.
    when you get it drained you can seal the small hole up with some 3m 52oo to prvent futher nouister from entering it.

    On the heat strips you can install you a dc converter or is that inverter where you can plug it up while you are going down the road.
    I don't think it will do much good though because the wind chill while traveling will just about remove all the heat from the heat tape.
     
  12. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,456
    State:
    IN
    Name:
    Winston
    Tim,
    Until permanently fixed this could be a problem that will haunt you for years to come. It might be best to replace the cable and then you will know it has been maintained properly. If that is not an option right now how about removing it completely and pull it out as straight as possible and elevate one end. Get a funnel with a neck big enough to put the outer cable into and tape it up so that anything you pour into the funnel can only get out by soaking down inside the cable. Then fill the funnel with the lube of choice and leave it for a few days. Every so often work the inner cable back and forth from the other end to help spread the lube. Being off the water for a while is way better than living with the problem and always wondering if you are going to have to mess with it...W
     
  13. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,456
    State:
    IN
    Name:
    Winston
    Bubbacat beat me to it, must be a faster typer than me!!!...W
     
  14. air4se

    air4se New Member

    Messages:
    14
    State:
    Jackson TN
    Thanks for the replies. I think I will go ahead and remove it and then do what you said about the lubricant. It is a pain! Yesterday I saw a boat frozen to a trailer and it sat in the water for probably 10 to 15 minutes before it thawed. Never saw that before. Another tip, don't unhook the boat before backing down the ramp. I saw a bassboat slide right off the trailer because there was ice on the runners. It took a tow truchk and about 3 hours to get it back on the trailer. Needless to say his day and boat was ruined.......Oh, winter fishing!


    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!


    Tim
     
  15. mspratt

    mspratt New Member

    Messages:
    173
    State:
    missouri
    was looking at some old posts and saw this one. This has happened to me before.Old cables can get some water inside and at the time didn't have the money to replace the cable.....Antifreeze did the trick,it kept it from freezing and it lubricated it also. Never did replace the cable even after two years ,worked good for me .....ur humble servant beartrap and buoy:cool2:
     
  16. peewee williams

    peewee williams New Member

    Messages:
    3,111
    State:
    Pembroke,Georgia
    Your major oil co.s have low temp.greases(40
    below F).Look them up on the INTERNET.I used military surplus grease on outboard motor fittings in warm & cold weather,tiller steering only.I still have 2 cans of "LAW Weapons Oil Arctic".I am out of the grease.They have come a long way with lubes.They should have a lot better by now.Check out a Anchorage Alaska outboard dealer on the INTERNET.peewee-williams
     
  17. Catgirl

    Catgirl New Member

    Messages:
    13,546
    There is a product called a Widget, not sure who makes it. It replaces the big nuts on both ends of the cable sheath and has grease fittings, so that you can use a low temperature grease in a grease gun and fill the entire length of the cable. You can do it from either end.