Boatworks

Steering Committee

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Steering Committee Castaway, the Bailout boat, needed a new steering pedestal. Mark Corke shows how it was installed.

The original steering pedestal on Castaway, a 1979 Ericson 34T, was serviceable, but it was old and in need of some TLC. We could have reused it, which would have involved refinishing it and replacing the control cables—but it would still have lacked a place for the new electronics displays. The new aluminum Edson 476 pedestal we chose has a fiberglass box bolted onto the top that accepts the Raymarine C80 multifunction display; the crash bar accepts the magnetic- compass bowl, and additional pods on either side accept supplemental instrumentation. This modern layout places everything in easy reach of the helmsman and provides a tidy, unified helm station.

Replacing the steering pedestal was one of the easier jobs we took on to bring Castaway up to snuff. If you are a reasonably competent DIYer and have access to a decent set of tools, you should be able to handle this job. Costs will vary depending on the boat; the Edson pedestal and associated hardware for Castaway cost about $1,600.

1. Removing the old pedestal was fairly simple. After taking off the steering wheel and removing the compass, we removed the four bolts from under the cockpit sole and took the pedestal off. The mastic used on the old installation was tenacious even after 30 years, and we had to work a wide-bladed knife around the periphery to free the hardware.

2. The new base’s footprint differed from the original, so we had to drill new mounting holes, We used a drawing supplied by Edson to mark the positions for the new 1/2(-diameter holes. (We filled the old mounting holes with epoxy before repainting the deck.) We were able to reuse the existing large diamond-shaped hole to feed the steering, gear, and throttle cables.

3. When the holes were drilled, we did a dry run to make sure that all was well. Since the deck had not been painted, all the adjustments and alterations could be made without marring the finish.

4. The instrument pods and the magnetic-compass bowl are held in place with special clamps.

5. We also attached the supplemental instrument pods, which required drilling holes through the stainless tube to carry the instrument cables. These too were attached with special clamps.

6. Some parts should be assembled before attaching them to the engine or throttle control.

7. The stainless cables come down the pedestal around a couple of sheaves before connecting to the bronze quadrant which you can just make out to the left of the picture. It took time to get the cable runs correct; a misaligned sheave would make the steering stiff to operate.

8. If you look down inside the pedestal you can see the chain, which runs over a small sprocket. The chain is approximately 24( long and is connected to stainless-steel cables, which in turn attach to the steering quadrant. The combined throttle and gear shifter, on the right side, awaits its control cables.

9. It took two full days to install the pedestal and its control cables. It should be good for the next 30 years.

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