Teleflex Steering: Cable Replacement

Classic Boston Whalers like this one might have Teleflex steering or older cable-and-pulley style.

Classic Boston Whalers like this one might have Teleflex steering or older cable-and-pulley style.

I didn’t know much about Teleflex steering cables until I bought a 13-foot Boston Whaler with a 40-hp outboard for my teenage son a dozen years ago. The boat was in decent shape, but in need of a new steering cable. Up to that point, all the outboard boats I’d owned were steered directly from the transom or had old wire-and-pulley systems attached to the wheel.

The first thing I learned about Teleflex is that they make a wide range of cables for powerboats; everything from throttle and shift cables to steering cables for a variety of applications; outboards, rack-and-pinion cables, even steering cables for inboard/outboards (I/O’s). So the first order of business is to identify what kind of cables you need to replace. For outboard boats under 25 feet you can expect a replacement steering cable to cost under $130.

Teleflex systems are particularly effective where the installation requires long cable runs and/or multiple bends between the helm and the engine. A stiff plastic jacket protects the inner cable in the core. Because the end terminals are pre-installed, you’ll have to order the cable custom to the length you need — so the next task is determining the cable length.

The drag link is to the right and is attached by a nylon lock nut.  After disconnecting that, remove the nut on the left side of the tilt tube to remove the cable  from the engine.

The drag link is to the right and is attached by a nylon lock nut. After disconnecting that, remove the nut on the left side of the tilt tube to remove the cable from the engine.

This is easy if you’re replacing an old Teleflex steering cable, as it will have the TFX symbol followed by the length in feet already marked on the cable (a foot or so from the engine connector). I’m including a link to a Jamestown Distributors page showing how to measure your cable. Be sure you get the right one.

Now that you have your new cable with the right end-connectors, here are a couple of tips on installing it in the boat. Let’s use an outboard-engine rig as an example. Remove the nylon lock washer from the drag link and loosen the nut from the tilt tube to free the cable from the engine, then remove the connection from the steering wheel. Now you’re going to use the removal of the old cable to help install the new one. Before you pull the old cable out of the boat, attach a messenger line at the steering wheel end so that when you pull the old cable out from the engine end you will have threaded a messenger to help install the new replacement cable. Watch the video below to see some of the details.

With the new cable in place and connected, you’re ready for time on the water. In the next blog I’ll explain how to maintain your new cable and keep it functioning flawlessly for years to come.

 

 

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