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Thread: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

  1. #1
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    Default Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Hi.
    I have an Edson worm steerer of the twin arm variety, but unlike the meteor, both worms are forward of the rudderpost, very much like the robinson. It is, however, much smaller than the Robinson. Does anyone know what model I have?
    I will be removing it to modify the shaft for an autohelm and before I screw up something, can anyone share their experience for removing one of these?
    Thanks.

    (I crawled through the quarterberth and am looking up through the Laz hatch.)



    I removed the two acorn nuts from the top of the arms, in case anyone wondered where they went.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Sorry that I can't help with this question, ... just wanted to say 'Wow, you are a wooden boat guy too!",... in addition to neat engines.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Just contact Edson. They have all their patterns and if what you need is not in stock they can make it. Their prices are fair, super quality and tolerances, but far far far from cheap.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Just contact Edson. They have all their patterns and if what you need is not in stock they can make it. Their prices are fair, super quality and tolerances, but far far far from cheap.
    A guy who is building engines from scratch & he should contact Edson?
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Yep - I'll call tomorrow morning. And to be clear, students are building those engines and they aren't running yet. There are plenty of problems of which I'm happy to buy my way out. I will modify the shaft for the autohelm (there's no keyway at the stub end), but will hopefully buy new nuts as the backlash is a bit much. Have to remove the whole kit first. I found out the massive robinson steerer (not mine) is $16k!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    I pulled out the steering and drove to Edson - great people over there. Luck would have it their response was along the lines of, "Wow! I've never seen one of these. One of a kind!". It's original to the boat and the "Edson - Boston" cast lettering meant the patterns were lost to their foundry fire in the 1930s. The boat is 1909.
    So....They kept the steerer and will noodle through next steps. The good news is that the solution will be a really nice steering system - no more loosey-goosey.
    Most likely the steerer will go back in for the immediate term, and I'll focus on finishing the engine (Yanmar 3hm), painting, and varnishing! Launch as soon as possible - end of April!
    As always, thanks for your input.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    I was thinking it was a bit non-standard having all the worms forward of the rudder post. Very cool.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    It's very similar to the Robinson, but smaller. Heck, maybe it was the model for the big Robinson. They showed me one of those today, it is an awesome piece of work.
    I may explore a DIY restoration next winter, even if I get a new system this summer. Part of me really wants those original bits and pieces back in the boat. Ever pour babbit for a nut?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    A metal- or woodworking machine restorer will have no problem pouring Babbit. And there should be a few in your neck of the woods. (A quick Google search confirmed that.) Babbit himself was from Taunton.

    Chip

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
    A metal- or woodworking machine restorer will have no problem pouring Babbit. And there should be a few in your neck of the woods. (A quick Google search confirmed that.) Babbit himself was from Taunton.

    Chip
    Great point. I gave that question on an exam for extra credit - Issac Babbitt. Students were perplexed.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorB View Post
    Great point. I gave that question on an exam for extra credit - Issac Babbitt. Students were perplexed.
    So - you did it to taunt 'em?
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Or he was trying to lead them on.

    Chip

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorB View Post
    It's very similar to the Robinson, but smaller. Heck, maybe it was the model for the big Robinson. They showed me one of those today, it is an awesome piece of work.
    I may explore a DIY restoration next winter, even if I get a new system this summer. Part of me really wants those original bits and pieces back in the boat. Ever pour babbit for a nut?
    I have...
    Does it use Babbit now?

    Note that the shaft will be worn near the center and you might want to avoid pouring around that smaller shaft OD. I am surprised there is no provision to take up for wear. Most of those types of steering gear do, even to the extent of having a tapered worm. This allows a zero lash adjustment amidships, and relys on weather helm to take up lash in one direction while turning.
    There was a thread a few years ago about a similar type of gear.
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...are-rebuilding

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Anyone have a simplex steerer? and are you happy with it? That's the Edson recommendation. The Meteor and Robinson are way too big, so I'm in the single arm category. Of course, I'll use my steerer as is, and either get a new one ($$$) or restore the original next winter. hmfff

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    My old Alden 43 had a Simplex, gear forward. I don't recall the size but I don't think it was the largest. Maybe it was middle. If you are guided by the size they recommend you cannot go wrong.

    When I bought Goblin there was no details about the steerer from the previous owner. I did not know the lubrication schedule and certainly did not know that the unit probably had not been lubed in several decades. Early in my ownership, a small part bound from corrosion and broke disabling the whole unit.

    I'd sailed on a boat that had a simplex and had the strange kit that went with attaching an emergency tiller. The units are so strong that it's silly. In general, any conditions that could break the simplex would be too violent to attach an emergency tiller. Better to keep things lubed. I improvised and since I can often direct a boat by sail trim we made it back to the mooring, where I took things apart.

    Next day to New Bedford. A lovely gent, reigning member of the family, gave me the tour of models and patterns and such. We found the part. After I'd gasped at the price I mentioned that I'd heard that these units were guaranteed to outlast Western Civilization.

    Here's the part that gives the year away.

    He affixed an firm gaze on my innocence and said, "They have put lights in Wrigley Field. Western Civilization is over."

    So I paid. Well worth it.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Thanks Ian. Great story. My "small part bound by corrosion" is a $6,000 new assembly.
    1. The old system is going back in this season, as the lead times for new or a restoration are too long.
    2. Any opinions on restoring the unit, best I can, versus replacing with a new steerer? I'd like to keep her 108 year old steerer in the boat, but the wear is substantial (45 degrees of lash). Something about a new, safe, and tight steerer is appealing.
    I'm on the fence and curious about your thoughts.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Doc, are you sure that's babbit in the nuts, or is it bronze or brass? They look like "inserts" from the pics. If the threads are Acme, or square, then a CAD-weilding individual could measure and draw up replacements, maybe test fit with 3D printed plastic, and then have some CNC'd out of appropriate stock. (If it's a proprietary or 'random' thread profile, it'll be a little more challenging.) Something that won't wear too quickly on the screw would be the place to start. I say brass or bronze because I don't think plastic would be up to the continuous or shock loads. I would caution you that this repair may only last 100 years this time around.

    Chip

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    That is a really unique piece. Are all/most Edson steerers mix and match compatible with their hubs? I suspect if one were to purchase say their meteor steerer and a hub separately, they'd be compatible. Or are each done custom and they'll make the spindle to match your hub/hub to match your spindle?
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Better not to suspect. Things like the bearings for steering wheel shafts come in a small number of standard sizes but many parts are engineered for a specific size and leverage, only superficially the same as the same part for a different size or type of steerer.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    I myself would go to quite a bit of trouble to restore that gear. Your idea of casting new Babbitt around the existing screw and other worn bearings seems good. You are going to have to crawl in there with a dial indicator and prove the lash at all pivot points. One might be able to "sleeve" the existing simple bearings with bearing bronze, and make new nuts (inserts) that silver soldered into the the old trunnions. Lots of ways to go about it, up to and including just single pointing threads on a new shaft. With the tools at your disposal, I think some extracurricular activity is in order...

    (Casting Babbitt around an existing shaft can be a fairly simple, backyard almost, operation with the sometimes exception of locating fixtures. If the male threads are significantly worn I would be tempted to set up the worm in a lathe, reindex it, and perhaps take a light truing cut on the worn face of the threads before recasting the Babbitt. It looks like a fun job. I have some excess of XXX Babbitt material, if you need some I would gift it to the cause.
    My experience is that shafts often suffer more than the soft Babbitt. I assume this is because of the bearing is embedding abrasive material making an effective "lap")
    Perhaps some more pictures???

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Chip, Sailor, Ian, Canowyawl,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think I'll drag myself out of bed very in the morning and do a quick round trip to New Bedford to pick up my steerer. I had planned on Monday, but I'm too curious to wait until next week to clean it up and size the job. Sailor, while there are undoubtedly components that I could mix and match, the good folks at Edson couldn't find anything and because everything is pre-1930 the patterns are gone. Modern parts are close, but sufficiently different.

    The fit to the rudder stock is perfect - absolutely no complaints there - and the trunions don't concern me. Those can be turned and their matching parts reamed to fit or sleeved. The screw and nuts are the bigger deal. I can't tell if the thread is square or trapezoidal from my pictures, but ACME threads were only in existence for 15 years when my steerer was installed. Thread profile issues aside, those folks in 1909 were pretty darn clever and I have a hard time believing there aren't provisions for adjusting the nuts. We'll see...

    If Babbitt, I can imagine the arms setup in-plane on jig plate with the nut shells in place. Then the babbitt is poured, and there are no adjustments. But under any other circumstance, I imagine inserts would be needed, otherwise the system would be overconstrained. How could the two arms be at their proper positions (as determined by the link lengths), with all the trunions parallel, with the nuts clocked as not to overconstrain the system? Plus, with inserts, any lash could be reduced by gently preloading the nuts against eachother - another advantage of the push-pull arrangement. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I'm hoping for inserts....

    Worst case, I make nuts and a two start acme screw, and recondition the rest of the parts. I will restore the gear no matter what, but unless I discover some fairly trivial adjustment over the next few days, it will have to wait until next winter. I'll take pics when I get it, and share what I find.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Cool restoration project even if you do in next year and don't use it in the boat. I'll bet that the Edson folk will be most interested in your progress.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    I think Ian's right. They may provide a bit more assistance than one might expect as it's such a unique piece. Keep us abreast.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    I had a nice little talk with Will Keene at the Maine Boat Builders Show. Edson wasn't showing but he came to talk to people. Fine man.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    Agreed. Will and Adam were my point contacts at Edson, and really helpful. I'll see how things shake out next fall for student projects, but I'm toying with the idea of making it a project similar to the engine work, if you've been following. It might be fun to dig up some drawings of similar vintage HMCo double arm worm steerers at Hart Nautical Collection, and do a bake-off.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Edson worm steering identification and assistance

    (photo credits to Will and Adam at Edson who pulled out some Simplex 0 parts for comparison)





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