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Rudders/Steering very stiff - Bayliner 3388

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    Rudders/Steering very stiff - Bayliner 3388

    Hello all,

    I am still going through all my systems one by one on my new to me 3388 command bridge motoryacht, while I have in on dry land where any needed maintenance and repairs can be done more easily. I'm currently working on an issue with the steering system. I have noticed that the steering is much stiffer than it should be at both helms. I have already ruled out the hydraulic steering system as it has been properly bled, is not low on fluid, there are no leaks, and the pressure is correct and maintaining 25 to 30 PSI. In troubleshooting some more today I decided to pull the rudder bar and hydraulic ram off the rudders to see how they felt moving them by hand. They are very stiff. I have to use considerable force to move either of them in either direction. Don't quite need to use a hammer, but close. I tried the helms with the ram removed and both wheels move very smoothly with almost no effort and the ram extends and retracts correctly. So again, not the hydraulic system as far as I can tell. So my first thought was the previous owner never greased the tubes/shafts and looking at the zerk fittings on the rudder tubes, one is rusty and the other is broken off. On the rusty one, I cant get the small ball to depress using a screw driver either. So this makes my first thought plausible. However I'm not sure if just replacing zerk fittings and greasing would make that much difference. Could it also be that the boat is and has been on dry land since November 2021? I have read somewhere that the packing has to be wet to allow easier movement? When it was last in the water, before the purchase, believe it our not I didn't check to see how the steering felt. When we did a sea trial the captain provided by the brokerage didn't mention anything and I was involved in other things than driving. I just never thought to ask either. Another thought is, does anything need to be replaced inside the tube? I've heard packing has to be replaced at some point, but I'm not sure how often, or how to tell if it needs to be. There are also sleeves and bushings I've read about.... So of course I want to be sure if there is a problem it is taken care of before putting it in the water, as dropping the rudders may be needed. I've never dropped the rudders on any previous boats and have no experience having rudders repacked or rebuilt or repaired. I am considering giving it a go myself, but if its a challenging job that needs some more know how, I don't know if I should chance it, given I'd have to haul it out again if I do something wrong. Any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!
    Alex O'Meara
    Clear Lake, CA

    1998 Bayliner 3388 Command Bridge, Twin 5.7L V8 Mercruisers - Direct Drive
    1999 Bayliner Capri 1850 SS, 4.3L V6 Mercruiser - Alpha One I/O

    #2
    I suggest you start by loosening the packing nuts at the top of the rudder housing post. I’m not sure where that is in relationship to the zirc fittings, but they are probably below the nuts. There’s a couple of tools for removing the packing, get one and take the first ring out a see what it looks like. It may be that the nut is turned down way too tight and the packing is acting as a brake. It may be that it’s also gone hard and needs to be replaced. Check out YouTube and I’m sure there’s an interesting video on exactly how to replace the packing. As to the drying out, it’s new to me. We dry store and after five and a half years I haven’t needed to adjust my rudder glands. I did have to get some work done on my starboard rudder and dropping it out was easy. Over the nut there’s a height ring that keeps the rudder from falling out the bottom and the tiller. A big aluminum pipe wrench is a good tool to have for doing this job. The steel pipe wrench is really heavy because you need a pretty big one.
    P/C Pete
    Edmonds Yacht Club (Commodore 1993)
    1988 3818 "GLAUBEN”
    Hino EH700 175 Onan MDKD Genset
    MMSI 367770440

    Comment


      #3
      I have loosened what I think is the packing nut and it was not very tight at all. Doesn't seem to make a difference to the stiffness. However, what I loosened was as bolt maybe 9/16 size, with a washer under it at the top of the tube. Maybe I'm missing the nut you're talking about. I'll have to go back and take another look. These rudders are the type that mount to the transom, parallel to it so to speak. They are not the through the bottom of the hull type. Not sure if that makes a difference.
      Alex O'Meara
      Clear Lake, CA

      1998 Bayliner 3388 Command Bridge, Twin 5.7L V8 Mercruisers - Direct Drive
      1999 Bayliner Capri 1850 SS, 4.3L V6 Mercruiser - Alpha One I/O

      Comment


        #4
        I went back to the boat today. Definitely no packing nut unless it’s hiding underneath the rudder control arm. I tried taking the bolt on top out and that didn’t make any difference to the stiffness. Nothing under the washer but what appears to be the top of the rudder shaft. Thought I would post some pictures of my rudder and maybe that can shed some more light.
        Alex O'Meara
        Clear Lake, CA

        1998 Bayliner 3388 Command Bridge, Twin 5.7L V8 Mercruisers - Direct Drive
        1999 Bayliner Capri 1850 SS, 4.3L V6 Mercruiser - Alpha One I/O

        Comment


          #5
          Okay, here’s the straight poop from the manufacturer about how to refresh the seals. It’s on page 32
          http://www.marinehardware.com/downlo...nning_gear.pdf
          P/C Pete
          Edmonds Yacht Club (Commodore 1993)
          1988 3818 "GLAUBEN”
          Hino EH700 175 Onan MDKD Genset
          MMSI 367770440

          Comment


            #6
            From the Marine Hardware catalogue:

            Click image for larger version

Name:	Bayliner_Rudder.jpg
Views:	32
Size:	18.8 KB
ID:	645937
            ________________
            1998 Bayliner 4788
            1989 Bayliner 3270 - SOLD-

            Comment


              #7
              These are great! Thank you for the link and diagrams. So I’m thinking if I remove the arm and safety lock bolt, that should drop the rudder. Then I can see what’s causing the stiffness. And since there’s no packing to deal with it should just be O-ring replacement, clean up, re-grease (hopefully) to reinstall. That’s of course assuming there’s nothing wrong with the shaft or the tube itself.
              Alex O'Meara
              Clear Lake, CA

              1998 Bayliner 3388 Command Bridge, Twin 5.7L V8 Mercruisers - Direct Drive
              1999 Bayliner Capri 1850 SS, 4.3L V6 Mercruiser - Alpha One I/O

              Comment


                #8
                Given the excellent diagram……if the units aren’t leaking, why tear them down, vs just replacing the zerk fittings, pumping in some grease, and working the rudders back & forth?
                1985 Bayliner 3270
                110 Hino/Hurth 360A
                previous = built own Roberts V495, circumnavigated
                previous = Apollo 27
                previous = Folkes 39, sailed to Hawaii
                + few more before that..

                Comment


                  #9
                  Very good point. And actually I don’t intend to tear apart one of them if just greasing it will solve the problem. The one with the broken off zerk fitting however is broken off in a way that I’m not sure I can extract the old fitting without pulling the shaft out and drilling enough to get a bolt extractor in or drilling it out completely and re-tapping. So, sort of planning ahead on that one, to have to pull it apart. Should’ve made that a little clearer in the original post.
                  Alex O'Meara
                  Clear Lake, CA

                  1998 Bayliner 3388 Command Bridge, Twin 5.7L V8 Mercruisers - Direct Drive
                  1999 Bayliner Capri 1850 SS, 4.3L V6 Mercruiser - Alpha One I/O

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Just wanted to circle back here and report the conclusion and solution.

                    It took some careful work on removing both of the rusted grease fitting and the broken grease fitting using a bolt extractor and tap to clean out the threads. I was lucky on the broken grease fitting that the remaining portion of fitting was so corroded that essentially it crumbled and just had to be dug our out of the hole with a tap and did not require drilling other than to get the bolt extractor in there the first time. So to start off neither rudder had to be torn down/dropped. I was able to first use some PB blaster shot inside the rudder tubes, through the now open grease fitting holes, to clean out existing old grease and dirt plus rejuvenate the O-rings as well, as suggested on another article I found online. After doing this both rudders moved much more freely than previously. I then was able to replace the grease fittings with new ones and fill the tubes with grease little by little working the rudders back-and-forth each time. After several cycles of this and filling the tubes fully, the rudders moved beautifully with minimal effort. I did encounter an interesting situation where you can actually pressurize the tubes with grease as they are sealed with O-rings and the grease will no longer go in rather than squirting out somewhere like many other grease points. So then I was sure to remove the grease fittings temporary to relieve the pressure and some grease came back out. Then I reinstalled the grease fittings. Consequently, this showed me with pretty good certainty that the O-rings are still in good shape as I was able to pressurize the tubes. I oiled and lubed up all other linkage pivot points, bolted everything back together, and tested the steering. No stiffness whatsoever, operates like new, lock to lock!

                    Thanks everyone for your help!
                    Alex O'Meara
                    Clear Lake, CA

                    1998 Bayliner 3388 Command Bridge, Twin 5.7L V8 Mercruisers - Direct Drive
                    1999 Bayliner Capri 1850 SS, 4.3L V6 Mercruiser - Alpha One I/O

                    Comment

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