Special Report – Why our Steering Failed and how FlexibleDrive in Moonah Tasmania helped us with superb service and support
I want to give a special shout out to Dave and Chris at FlexibleDrive. “Hey Thank you for all of your effort and support. It has really meant a lot to Evan and I”
On Day 27 – Feb 26th (Blog link) we lost our steering heading up the east coast of Tassie, we finally made it back to Bicheno and safe harbour. It was late afternoon and knowing we had to find a solution to get our steering fixed Evan rang our friend Frank in Kettering. He got onto his shipwright who gave us a number to call. They could not assist but gave us the number for Flexible Drive in Hobart.
Evan spoke to Dave, sent him photos of the steering cable and explained what happened. Dave felt 95% sure they could help us and needed us to get both cables sent to them via courier asap. Its Tuesday now and he felt they could get us something by Friday at the earliest or possibly the following Monday.
We got super lucky and found a local courier (Danny) who met us near where we anchored and was willing and able to get the cables down to Moonah by the next morning. We heard from Dave that the Courier was there waiting for them at their office by 8am (again phenomenal service!)
The next morning the winds had dropped considerably so we started our trek back down the coast with our emergency tiller jury rigged with ropes that came up to our primary winches allowing us to steer and use the throttle at the same time in relative comfort. Not sure how far we were going to go we couldn’t organise where to pick up the steering cables if they were repaired we opted to play it by ear and get in Contact with the courier and Flexible drive later on. We had a great run sleeping the night at Chinaman’s Bay at Maria Island and the next morning managed to navigate the Marion narrows and Denison Canal and all the way to Kettering with this set up.
Nearing Kettering Evan received a call from Dave. This is Thursday. Dave indicated that the steering cables are fixed and that he will meet us at Kettering marina by the time we tie up!! Surprised and delighted we found out that he was following us on AIS the whole time to make sure we were okay. He used his ingenuity and not only followed us on AIS but found our blog online and had read the entire thing.
He did in fact meet us with new steering cables and a piece of the old cable and conduit to let us know exactly what had happened. I think they were as curious as we were to understand what happened with the steering. They put the frozen cable/conduit on a machine winch and the cable would not budge out of the conduit. They cut the cable until they found the blockage. Dave explained (and showed us) that some grease and dirt had made its way up into the conduit. It looked like old grease and dirt. The action of the cable moving up and down in the conduit created a sort of hydraulic pressure inside and eventually the grease/dirt worked its way into the steering cable causing it to expand. The pressure continued to build until BAM frozen. The cable seemed to weld itself to the outside casing/conduit.
Dave indicated that in this case there would have been no warning it would just cease instantly. This is what we experienced. One minute the steering was okay and the next gone.
He also advised to never ever use grease in this system. If you feel you need to lubricate then only use Inox (WD-40 type stuff) but you should not even have to do this. The new cables should last 15+ years easily as is.
We have never used grease but Evan noticed that the wheels that the cable travel on at the steering quadrant looked like they had been greased. Perhaps the grease over the years found their way into the conduit.
The new cable is beautiful, they had a spare 7 metres from a job they did for INCAT, we needed 5.2 meters. Magic! They also cleaned out and replaced the cable in the other steering conduit. The work they did is very good, top notch.
The service they provided was even more amazing and we will not forget the effort they put in to help us out.
So guys – THANK YOU AGAIN!