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Ultraflex Group

Mechanical steering system


Appropriate mechanical steering system selection
 

Choosing the appropriate system for your application can sometimes be confusing because of the variety of steering systems available. There are 4 basic steering types: Mechanical Rotary, Mechanical Rack, Hydraulic and Power Steering that cover most of the styles of recreational powerboats. The Mechanical Rotary, Mechanical Rack and Pinion are available in standard or Zerotorque Feedback versions.
Selecting among these options is dependent upon the speed and handling characteristics of your particular boat. If your boat is an outboard or if it has a sterndrive without power steering, you need to consider steering systems that reduce the rudder torque feedback that you feel while driving your boat.
Feedback is the constant effort you have to put on the steering wheel just to go straight, and it is why it takes more effort to steer one direction than the other. The amount of feedback depends on the boat, the propeller and the steering system in the boat. Generally speaking, the faster you are going the more amount of effort you have to put on the steering wheel to keep the boat going straight.


PLANETARY GEAR DESIGN
 

Uflex offers a rotary system featuring a “Planetary Gear Design” with 3 satellite gears which distributes steering feedback more evenly and effectively throughout the helm.
The result is a reduction in the amount of effort needed to steer the boat straight or into the direction of the steering torque.
The Uflex Planetary Gear Design also spreads the wear of the steering direction changes over a wider wear area which reduces overall wear and the correspondent lost motion.
The competitively priced complete system from Uflex is called the Rotech. This package includes a helm, bezel and cable. It is a direct replacement for competing rotary systems requiring no new holes in the dash.


ROTECH

Single
Contact
Point

The Planetary Gear Design of the Rotech contrasts conventional systems which have only one contact point between two drive gears. The single contact point of conventional systems receives all the torque from the engine, which can eventually lead to uneven gear wear and correspondent lost motion in the steering.


ACCURA 

For outboard boats, sterndrives without power assist or other applications with moderate torque loads it is recommended to upgrade to system with a clutch or gears which automatically lock out the steering torque while the system is not actively being turned.
Uflex offers the Accura system with the same Planetary Gear Design but in a ZeroTorque configuration, which does not require a constant effort on the steering wheel to keep the boat going straight or in the intended direction.
A special spring clutch holds the steering system on its intended course until the next change in the direction is initiated by the driver. 


RACKTECH 

Rack and Pinion steering systems are generally found on boats where space between the drivers knees and the steering helm is limited. Racks were particularly common in the early 70’s on ski boats where the freeboard of the boats were very small.
Today’s boats generally have enough space to fit a rotary helm, making the rack systems less popular as OEM installed option.
Rack and Pinion systems have the similar design issues as conventional rotary helms. Accordingly, all the steering loads are transmitted to one contact point and there is uneven wear in the system. 


Conventional Rotary / Rack and Pinion Overlay
 

ACCUTECH
 

For boats that do have space constraints, Uflex offers the Racktech steering package that consists of a helm, bezel and steering cable. The ZeroTorque version of the Uflex rack and pinion is the Accutech, which features a spring clutch to allow for smooth transition in and out of the ZeroTorque mode.
Both systems come with the M86 Rack Cable which has an armor wrapped stranded wire core for high efficiency and smooth steering.
If you have a boat that has the space, it is recommended to take advantage of the Planetary Gear Designed rotary helms to reduce feedback and to improve longevity of the helm.