ATA Associates Performs Boat Testing and Reviews Propeller Torque and Single Point Failures in Boat Steering

"Hydraulic Steering System Connection Testing"

On any boat powered by a single outboard motor, the spinning propeller not only drives the boat forward, it also generates a torque on the motor which will turn the motor and the boat if that torque is not restrained somehow. A propeller rotating clockwise, which is typical for most propellers, generates an inherent, propeller-induced “steering” torque that will turn a boat to the right as it moves forward if that steering torque is given free rein. After extensive testing, ATA’s staff experts have found likely sources of watercraft steering failures.

With simple, tiller steering, the propeller-induced steering torque on the motor can be felt by the boat’s operator as force acting through the motor’s tiller handle. That force must be resisted if the boat is to be successfully controlled by the operator. Likewise, with most single-cable steering systems, the operator can usually feel the steering force acting through the steering wheel via its cable connection to the motor. Even if he can’t feel the force, if the operator releases his grip on the steering wheel, he will see the force at work in spontaneous turns of both the wheel and the boat.

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Source: ATA Associates, Inc.