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Thread: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Fairbanks, Alaska
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    84

    Default Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    I think I can, but it might be fussy to adjust, so I am asking.

    What I have is a Grumman Sport Canoe, essentially a 16 foot square stern canoe, a small outboard, and up here skinny skinny water. Braided rivers they are sometimes called. Navigable channels can change/ move hourly.

    If I run a line all the way around the gunwales I can steer from anywhere in the boat. I would set it up as Ian McColgin has previously described as "like a horizontal steering wheel on an old tractor. Twist the wheel to the right, the tractor turns right. Pull the rope on the right side of the boat towards the stern, the boat turns to starboard." And so on, the rope (steering line) is like a giant horizontal steering wheel accessible from anywhere in the boat.

    Once I have the boat trimmed out and know for sure where I need to sit, I would like to add, fixed to the steering rope, a whip stick or steering stick so I can have some extra leverage on the steering most of the time.

    FWIW the Grumman is a +/- 1981 build with a 1978 Mercury 7.5 Thunderbolt. The motor rotates "about" 86 degrees from hard left to hard right.

    I will see about taking a picture and getting hosted somewhere, most of the threads on this subject here have some years on them.

    ropesteer.jpg

    Clearly not quitting my day job to become an artist. The black at the stern is more or less the point where the motor rotates with a tiller lever sticking forward into the boat. Running up the left side I have a line started in the port quarter, out to the tiller and then back up the gunnel. This hull previously had a motor lift installed, there are existing holes in the gunwales I should be able to mount pulleys to without having to drill anything else. Then, up front in green, I was thinking a spring like for a screen door that could be attached to tension the system, or detached to loosen the system when it is time to dismount the motor. Starboard would be mirror image, I can see some but not all of the already drilled holes in the starboard gunwale in the posted image.

    If I can get out of fabricating a quadrant at the motor with the correct spring or springs in the bow that would be good.

    If I can get the trim to work I would prefer to set up the right side of the frontmost seat as the cockpit area.
    Last edited by swmn; 06-05-2022 at 07:41 PM. Reason: have pic to upload

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    St. Helens, Oregon
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    4,658

    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    I don't see why not. Just make sure you use something like Tef-Gel between the aluminum and any steel bits you put in. What are you going to do for throttle control from up there? Just a kill switch? An alternative might be to rig something like the Scandinavian tiller extensions you see on the Oughtred (and other) boats.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    Thanks for the questions Hugh. Appreciate the tip about separating steel from Aluminum.

    I am hoping to use a factory matching remote shift/ throttle in the cockpit area that Mercury made in about 1978 when they made the motor. I am not going to get a mullet haircut to go with.

    In really skinny water it would be ideal if I could mount some kind of hoop, like a roll bar on a dune buggy, to use as a grab bar while standing up in the cockpit area (I know, I know) to navigate at very low speeds with all of shift, throttle and steer at hand without having to take my eyes off the obstacles in the water - and then sit back down when it is time to go fast again. This is why I want the cockpit area as far forward as I can get it. If I was using this as a lake boat - past experience with my first Grumman Sport Canoe as a guide- I would just setup the cockpit on the middle seat and let my dog ride up front for ballast.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    PNW, an island west of Seattle
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    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    I lived in Anchorage for a long time and for a spell, I ran a 19' Grumman square stern with a 10hp. I built a lift for the motor and used it regularly to navigate those skinny spots you write reference. The lift was critical for success. Then, the only guys who didn't have a lift ran with a jet unit on their outboard. But those require much more power than you have. (They also create a noisy racket that will wake the dead.) A rope/stick system can be easily done but I think you'll still need a lift and I'm positive you'll need immediate access to your throttle. Reaching for it because it's not in hand is too slow. At least this is my experience.

    Good luck and swat some mosquitos for me this summer!

    Jeff

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Fairbanks, Alaska
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    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    Jeff raised two good points I'll get back to, but I have a related question.

    In one of the younger threads here, I think 2018 or so, it was suggested to use a gripper knot here and there around the boat to ease handling the rope steer system. I found the knot pictured in the old thread under the name stopper knot, and made one in 3/8 line similar to what I plan to use. The knot (pic1) fills my palm OK, but is kinda small. So I made a short bight (pic2) and got that enclosed in a longer fatter knot (pic3) but before I commit to this, I am curious to know if this is a really bad idea, or if there is some other knot or bend I should use instead.

    Curious. I was planning to add more text below the pictures - which are unintentionally overlarge. Anyway, if this is an OK idea I will certainly shorten up the bight so I don't have all that mess sticking out at one end.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
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    Aug 2016
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    Fairbanks, Alaska
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    84

    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    Ok, so back to jpatrick's two excellent points.

    Yes, a lift would be helpful. I used to have a lift, got shoulder pain, went to the doc, MRI, surgery consult. They took away my tiller steer and my chainsaw in exchange for me not going to surgery. I feel like there is a lot of places I can go without a lift, but if I want one I will need to work up some ambition to make it foot operated like a leg press machine.

    Seconds, jet boats (and air boats) can run fast in shallow water, but that isn't what I want to do. I like to putt along real quiet like so the wildlife keeps doing their thing. Anything that makes a lot of racket, you might see the hind end of a critter running away every now and again, but mostly the critters will be long gone by the time the loud boat gets to where they used to be.

    In a boat like this, just burbling along, I have seen:

    A porcupine squatting on the riverbank take the stick out of his mouth and hold it over his belly while he watched me burble by

    I made eye contact with a lynx once, I was about 30 feet offshore. That fool thing got down on his belly and started stalking me, inching forward forward, just oozing along the sand

    Had a bald eagle circling the boat once, about 50 feet up. One the third circuit I noticed the eagle was losing altitude, and on the fourth circuit I realized it was not circling the boat, it was circling my wife in the bow of the boat. Tucked under a overhanging tree for that one.

    Had to slow down once for a yearling moose, little bull with a cute little paddle antler started on side, baby fat all over him, thought he was walking fast enough to cross the river ahead of me.

    Had to stop once for a small group of caribou swimming across the river we were on.

    I don't have a favorite beaver story. They all act like grumpy old men, even the young moms. If you liked the movie you will love camping near a beaver lodge.

    -Scott

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    50,826

    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    That's a lot of hp for the canoe and so much idling may foul the plug. You always have spar plug, wrench, gap gauge, and file.

    The line will work for steering but:
    The tensioning block and line (green) is not helpful;
    The system allows for your fore and aft placement but not stand and sit; and.
    You're still left with throttle and shift control problems.

    On the assumption that you'll sit on the aft seat and stand near the forward end of the space between the aft seat and the mid-thwart.

    A tiller extension is what you want. The joint getting the tiller to the extension could be a bit of fairly stiff exhaust hose and a couple of band clamps. Long enough that you can stand at about 45 degrees one shin against the mid-thwart and the other hand reaching the end of the tiller behind you.

    Shift control could be a stick straight along the engine, long enough to get to reverse, and the a gentle angle to wind up a little aft of the tiller extension. Attachment would be a ring allowing the stick to slide back and forth for shifting and for raising the tiller.

    Cool project. G'luck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    PNW, an island west of Seattle
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    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    You might find an article that Harry Bryan wrote in WB#227 to be informational. He describes the install of a stick steering station in a build. There is also an article I saw on Duckworks about stick steering. Sorry, I don't have a ready reference for it. A search on the site will help you find it.

    I'm planning on doing stick steering on a current build but it will be centralized. I'm not planning on grabbing a rope. A Sport Canoe is really a small space. Can't you simply plan on standing in one central helm position? That sort of steering/throttle control is relatively easy to design. I think you'll want a quadrant.

    Jeff

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    153

    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    Check out the stick steering and throttle systems Florida man uses on Gheenoes (basically a glorified version of what you have designed by Harley and Pugar Gheen). It's really just a push/pull cable with a big lever for steering. Often they'll put throttle on one hand and steering on the other, and let the captain sit right up in the bow. I had a 15' with a 25hp on it. That thing would scream, and run in about 4" of water.

    CMC makes a nice hydraulic jack plate for applications like yours.

    https://thmarinesupplies.com/product...lift-hydraulic


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Charleston, SC
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    439

    Default Re: Can I add a steering stick to a rope steer system?

    you can get a hand crank jack plate too. eliminates the battery

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    East Quogue,NY
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    25,104

    Default

    A throttle/ tiller extension can be as simple as a length of PVC, the ID of which fits with friction over the engine throttle.

    A long lanyard for the kill switch is also simple.

    Kevin


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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