Santana Tiller Fix

By Jay Aronow

Does your tiller feel sloppy? Have you tried to fix this problem by shimming the tiller fork with washers and tightening everything in sight? Well Jay Aronow thinks he has a quick and easy fix for this problem. I asked him to describe what he did to fix his tiller in a step-by-step description. So here it is, enjoy.

Okay..step by step to my best recollection:

You'll need a drill press, 22/64ths " bit, 3/8ths " bit, 3/8ths" coarse tap, 3 1/'2" stainless bolt with at least 1 1/4" of thread, 3/8ths stainless nut, 3/8ths" stainless Nylock nut, 2 stainless washers for the bolt and nuts, thin brass washers probably 4 but depending on how worn your fork is perhaps 5 or 6.

1. Remove the tiller and tiller fork from the rudder head and take the tiller off the fork.

2. Remove the rudder head from the rudder taking care to support the rudder from below so that it doesn't fall and get damaged.

3. With the head perfectly parallel to the work surface and using a drill press drill a 3/8ths inch hole in both sides of the rudder head. Do not drill through one side to the other but perform two seperate operations.

4. Now on one side of the tiller fork and with it perfectly parallel to the drill press bed drill a 3/8ths inch hole.

5. On the other side of the fork using the same care to keep the work parallel drill a 22/64ths inch hole.

6. On the side of the fork you just drilled tap a 3/8ths inch hole. I used a coarse thread bolt so of course I used a coarse thread tap but I don't think it matters if its coarse or fine. Be sure the hole matches the thread.

7. Smear a good water proof grease (I used Phil Wood bicycle grease because I had some) on all bearing surfaces and washers. Assemble the whole thing using the brass washers as bushings between the head and the fork and tighten the bolt very snuggly into the threaded side of the fork add the nut and again tighten very snuggly and now the Nylock snuggly. Now back off the nut against the Nylock to prevent any loosening. I cant stress enough the care that you must take to drill perfectly straight holes. Every thing must line up as perfectly as possible or you just end up with same problem you're try to fix. My observation is that the problem is not so much that the tiller fork doesn't match the rudder head but that the bolt is smaller than the holes. This causes the holes to get larger over the years with wear. The brass bushings are sacrificial and will need to be replace periodically and remember to lube the assembly every now and again. I have used this set up and although it's still fairly new I've done about 200 hundred tacks a close to 20 minutes of sculling and everything is just as tight as when first assembled as far as I can tell and it all moves together as one unit. It feel good to the hand and best of all its not sloppy all for less than three bucks.