Have you ever wondered why your boat pulls to the right? Sometimes it becomes so difficult to hold onto the steering wheel as there is a constant pull toward the starboard side.
The problem aggravates as the speed increases. Usually boats with a single cable mechanical steering system experience such unintended right turns.
The boat will turn to the right when by chance you release the steering wheel so be careful and keep your grip tight on the wheel otherwise it may go out of control and turn to a side once you let go of the grip.
But don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with your steering wheel. It’s your propeller’s force that’s working on it. What is this force that pulls the boat to the right? This force is known as Torque Steer.
Torque is the twisting force of any shaft. The two opposing forces i.e. the forward thrust and the sideways push created by the propeller’s rotation generate steering torque.
However, it can be compensated by moving the steering torque tab, also known as a trim tab, a few degrees to the right side.
The problem is mostly faced by small boat owners with a single engine and a single right-handed propeller.
Boat Pulls To The Right
When a boat pulls to the right you must consider the four following things due to which a boat could be pulled to the right.
1. Due to torque steer.
2. Wrong adjustment of power trim and trim tabs.
3. Motor is mounted too low.
4. Due to the old mechanical steering system.
Generally, this problem arises because of torque steer. The torque steer is produced by the propeller and the motor is transferred to the steering wheel through the steering cable.
The Torque Steer Is Generated When
1. The crankshaft of the engine is rotating clockwise if seen from above so the crankcase and the other components of the engine will try to go in the opposite direction as per Newton’s third law.
2. The propeller is rotating clockwise, which pushes the boat forward but at the same time, its lower blades will try to move horizontally on the right side.
The prop will transfer this push to the motor which in turn will make the steering wheel move to the right when it is released.
The density of the water does not vary horizontally but vertically, the pressure of the water will differ if the blades of the propeller will have a foot’s space in between.
The blade in the high-density water will create a different force than the blade that is in lighter water thus enabling the motor to push the boat towards the right side.
How To Adjust The Steering Torque Tab
You can reduce this torque effect simply by adjusting the trim tab.
The torque compensation tab or a trim tab balances the torque created by the propeller’s blades. The rudder-like trim tab is housed on the bottom of the cavitation plate, just above the propeller.
This tab needs to be adjusted to decrease the torque steer effect. Before adjusting the tab, make sure that your boat is stable. There shouldn’t be any extra load on the boat. Place all the gear in the center.
Most of the boats are equipped with this tab. You can adjust the setting by moving it slightly in the direction where your boat pulls.
Just loosen the bolts according to the manufacturer’s instructions and move the tab in the direction where your boat is pulling.
If your boat pulls to the right then move the edge of the trim tab a few degrees to the starboard side. Similarly, if it pulls to the left then move the rudder-like tab to the left.
Once adjusted, secure back the loosened bolts. You aim to cure steering torque as much as possible so that you can drive your boat safely
Without worrying about it going astray if the steering wheel is released. However, you can not remove steering torque altogether but you can decrease it by setting the torque to compensate tab in the correct direction.
Trim Tabs and Power Trim
If trim tabs and power trims are wrongly adjusted then it can also pull your boat to the right. Check the settings of your trim tabs and adjust them accordingly.
Unlike the trim torque tab that is fin-like and is housed above the propeller. Trim tabs are two metal plates installed on the transom and are controlled by switches at the helm.
Whereas power trim is a built-in feature in outboards and sterndrives. Trim tabs and power trim are used to adjust the angle of the boat.
Power trim adjusts the propeller’s angle, on the other hand, trim tabs are operated to alter the hull’s angle. Both when used together, give you a better drive.
If a boat is leaning to the port side, maybe due to rough weather or some passengers roaming about, you can adjust the list by using the trim tabs. Without these metal plates, it would be difficult for you to cure this list.
You would have to re-arrange your gear or heavy objects to counterbalance this effect. Now you can manage the tilt by just trimming down or trimming up your tabs.
However, you can not adjust these settings for your entire trip. It will change according to the weather conditions and your requirements.
When you’re starting from a plane, keep your trim down. Gradually trim up while increasing the speed, till you get an ideal trim setting. If set properly, trim tabs can enhance the performance of the boat.
Effect of Trim Tabs on Steering Torque
These trim settings have a great effect on steering torque. You can reduce the torque steer effect by adjusting these settings.
Once torque steer is cured, you’ll be able to get a safer ride as the tendency of your steering wheel to turn to the right will be decreased.
Power trim the prop so that the prop is trimmed according to the water surface, and the propeller’s shaft is almost horizontal to the surface of the water, which will decrease steer torque.
When the engine is trimmed in, the propeller shaft does not remain horizontal, it will tilt, due to this reason, the downward moving blade on the right side of the propeller shaft will have more pitch.
While the upward-moving blade will have less pitch as compared to the downward blade. The right side blade will generate more force than the left side blade.
This imbalance pulls the engine and steering wheel to the right side thus making it difficult for the driver to hold it steady otherwise the boat will turn to the starboard side.
Your Motor Is Mounted Too Low
The location of the motor has an important role in pulling the boats to the right. If the motor is mounted too low on the transom, the boat would veer off when we let go of the steering wheel.
The engine should be in the middle of the transom. The propeller should be horizontal when underwater, otherwise if it is up or down then there would be a pull either towards the right or left.
To eliminate this effect it is advised to place the engine at a height on the transom. However, there is a risk of overheating if we install the engine higher than the old standard height.
Old Mechanical Steering System
On the whole, this issue is faced by boaters who are using the old mechanical steering system as the steering cable of this system allows the forces to be transmitted through it in both ways.
It permits the torque to be feedback and consequently turns the steering wheel to the right when it is released. Replacing the mechanical steering system with hydraulic steering would eliminate torque steer.
Thus enabling you to have a safer ride with your loved ones without worrying about the hazards of unbalanced steering in the boats.
Enjoy an effortless drive with just your fingertips. A no-feedback steering system cures torque steer and you can have a relaxed drive. Don’t worry about your boat, it will not pull to the right.
The torque steer that is causing your steering wheel to move towards the starboard side if left unattended, will be eliminated for good.
The hydraulic steering system is very easy to install, even you can install it by yourself. Read the instructions on the product, follow them carefully, and then you’re good to go.
Hydraulic Steering Systems Available In The Market
Some of the hydraulic steering systems available in marker are given below:
1. Domestic SeaStar Hydraulic Steering Kit.
2. Domestic BayStar Hydraulic Steering Kit.
3, Mophorn 150HP Hydraulic Outboard Steering Kit Boat Marine System.
4. Winibo ZA0301 Marine Outboard Hydraulic Steering System for Boats with Helm Pumps, Hydraulic Cylinder, and Tubing.
5. Uflex HYTECH 1.0 Hytech 1.0 Hydraulic Outboard Steering Kit.
Your boat pulls to the right mainly because of torque steer. Adjust your torque compensates tab located below the cavitation plate and mount your engine slightly higher than before in the center of the transom.
If possible, upgrade your steering system to a hydraulic steering system. Summer is already here! Most likely your problem has been resolved and you’re enjoying on water. Happy Boating!