View Full Version : How hard should steering a Maristar be?

07-08-2013, 11:56 AM
I'm getting frusterated so I thought I'd reach out a little bit on here. I bought a brokered '93 Maristar 225 DD from Action Water Sports in Fenton, MI a couple months ago. My parents bought their '93 Prostar 205 from there used in '98 and have always had a good relationship with the dealership so that is where my wife and I went when we decided to get a boat. I had a few boats sell before I could get there so when we found this one my wife said just buy it. Shame on me I didn't test drive it first but I had a lot of trust in the dealership and they said they drove it when they got it and everything tested out good. The first time we took it out I immediately realized how tough it was to steer the boat. On the trailer and at idle speed it's perfectly smooth but under power it becomes very stiff and really hard to change direction. I can do it with one hand but my Dad, brother in law, and wife have to use two hands. I contacted the dealership and they told me probably a steering cable. How they wouldn't have noticed this on the test drive (along with the sending unit not working) is beyond me but I gave them the benefit of doubt and ordered a new cable and fuel sender and installed it. Upon inspecting the old cable it was probably due for a new one but the new cable made marginal to no improvement in the steering. I looked around on here and by what I found I thought probably a rudder issue. I dropped the rudder, it did have grease, and has no slop when installed. It also spins smooth by hand when disconnected from the steering cable. I again contacted my dealer and asked their advice/opinion as to if there was anything else to look for with the rudder/rudder box or if it could be the helm. They basically told me to not expect the boat to drive like a Prostar and that it steering hard is just the nature of the beast. Now, I in no way expect the boat to handle or drive like a Prostar due to the differences in weight, size, power, deeper V, etc. but I don't think it should be a night and day difference in how hard it is to turn the steering wheel. My wife should be able to drive it right? So I'm asking you guys that have or have driven Maristars how hard should it be to turn the wheel? I've driven a Mastercraft Prostar 205 and X14, a Malibu, and a Ski Nautiqe and they all turned similarly in respect to how hard it is to actually spin the wheel. Any thoughts or advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

07-08-2013, 12:44 PM
We have a 2000 Maristar 210. She turns easily with one hand while pulling riders. Our steering cable is 4 years old.

07-08-2013, 12:52 PM
Thanks. I assumed it should but have not driven any other Maristar.

07-08-2013, 01:44 PM
My steering cable is 7-8 years old, and it steers easily at speed - one handed is no strain at all. Yours is a different hull design, but I'm pretty sure mine is significantly heavier (and a V-Drive to boot).

It doesn't sound like you can trust your dealer to diagnose at this stage; you really need to find another boat of the same type and drive it for comparison. Perhaps the rudders of that year are poorly balanced, or a PO bent the rudder or put the wrong replacement on?


07-08-2013, 02:37 PM
I actually sent pics to my dealer of the rudder to confirm that it is the correct shape.

07-08-2013, 02:41 PM
And I'm not bashing Action. They've been good about stuff... I'm just frusterated.

07-08-2013, 03:22 PM
Well, if your steering cable is new, and your rudder isn't binding due to being loose in the port, perhaps Maristar handling is just too different from your expectations.

FWIW, you might look at this thread http://www.mastercraft.com/teamtalk/showthread.php?t=6007 .

I don't know what rudder your boat has, but I noted that my 2004 230VRS had rather hard steering effort when new. In 2006, Mastercraft changed the rudder geometry. Replacing the old rudder with that new one made a huge difference in steering effort for my boat.

On the left is the original rudder that came on 2002-2005 Maristars, on the right is the one that they started using in that same line 2006 and after.



07-08-2013, 03:27 PM
Mine is like the one on the right. I think MC went to the one on the left and then back.

07-08-2013, 03:49 PM
I had a 95 MariStar 200 VRS. V-Drive so different drive but I believe very similar hull. Very light steering, one finger to turn it underway.

I sold the MariStar and bought a 03 X2. Horrible steering and the prop/trans was set up for left rotation. Handling was horrible. Probably the worst set up inboard that I've ever driven. Switched the trans direction, prop and swapped out the rudder to the one above, fixed everything and all was right with the world.

I now have a 07 X2 which is larger and heavier than your boat. While it is in no way anywhere like a ProStar it can be easily driven with one hand and my wife and children have no problem driving it with one hand either.

In your case if you have the bigger rudder I'd be looking at the rack and routing for the cable. I'd also see if you can somehow cross reference the part number on the steering cable to make sure you're replacing it with the correct one. Someone on here posted about their steering issue and resolved it by finding a bad angle in the routing of the cable that was binding the cable.

07-08-2013, 03:56 PM
Wow... lot of work on the X2 to make it work. That wouldn't be an option for me though because I have an offset rudder.

07-08-2013, 03:58 PM
Looking at the the prop from behind the boat, the prop spins counter clockwise. Is that considered left rotation?

07-08-2013, 05:01 PM
Yes, MC only until fairly recently were all LH rotation.

07-08-2013, 06:38 PM
Well I just got an email back from the tech at my dealer that I sent the rudder pics to and he confirmed that it is the correct rudder and that I am correct in that it should steer a little harder than a 205 but not much. He said it has to be play in the rudder or the gears in the helm. If it's not raining when I get home I will pull the helm apart and inspect.

07-08-2013, 06:59 PM
Can't argue with the tech's logic - the steering in these boats is pretty danged simple.

07-08-2013, 10:33 PM
I have a 1999 MariStar 230VRS and I feel that it has very light steering. I can turn the wheel with one finger when underway. When I have skiers behind, I definately don't one finger the steering, but one handed steering is the norm. My wife pulls me skiing, and has no problem steering the boat. I have had 4 skiers at once and had no more effort to steer the boat. My boat has a cylinder with a grease fitting on it that the steeing cable goes into just above the rudder and under the engine (v-drive). If your boat has that, make sure that you give that a good couple squirts of grease, and work the wheel back and forth to distribute the grease evenly. I do that every spring as a regular part of maintenance. Hope this helps!

07-10-2013, 01:54 PM
Yeah the standoff is greased and moves freely. Pulled the helm apart and gears look fine too. Dealership is stumped based on what I've told them so they have agreed to look at it free of charge. Hopefully they figure it out.

07-10-2013, 04:20 PM
I've owned a 79 S&S and a 87 Prostar Powerslot before I purchased my 95 Maristar 200VRS. The Maristar steering was very tight from the day I bought it. I replaced the cable and the cable bracket and it only helped the steering slightly. I cleaned out the rudder housing and regreased it. Still not much better. As with yours, it's free on the trailer and docking speed. I can spin it with one finger when I'm docking the boat. Under way it's tighter the further I get away from center. I've lived with it for a few years but my next step is to replace the rudder and box. The boat had a bent prop shaft and strut when I bought it so I'm guessing the rudder shaft may have a slight bend in it.

I've thought about disconnecting the rudder from the cable and turning it by hand while someone operates the throttle, but I really don't want to have my arm that close to the drive belt if something goes wrong:D

07-10-2013, 04:45 PM
1999 210 Maristar owner. When I bought the boat in '08 steering was hard /tight. Greased near the rudder and can now turn with a finger. Sometimes I think it's almost too easy

07-13-2013, 07:59 PM
Well, bought a new rudder box and worked some grease into the helm. Problem solved! It's so much more enjoyable taking out the boat now that I'm not man handling the wheel.

07-13-2013, 09:35 PM
Glad to hear you figured it out. Have a good time out there!

07-14-2013, 07:34 AM
Amazing how some of the smaller things can make or brake your experience and impressions of a boat.

07-19-2013, 11:14 PM
My maristar turns better to the left compared to the right. I blame it on prop rotation. To physically turn the wheel, very easy.

07-22-2013, 08:00 AM
I just bought a 2005 X-45 and had the dealer look into the hard steering issue when underway. During my test drive on the lake, the hard steering was the first thing I noticed about the boat. The previous owner agreed to have the MC dealer fix that at his cost. The mechanic who worked on the boat told me that everything looked good to him, he simply looked at the cable, greased it, and put it back in. When I picked up the boat, just like you mentioned, it steered fine on the trailer. In the lake, it steers fine at idle and while going at very slow speeds. As soon as you get underway, the steering is as hard as it was when I test drove it before buying it. I do not understand this either; it takes me two hands to turn the wheel with a lot of effort. My wife hasn't driven it yet but I suspect she will not be pleased with the way it steers underway.
I know very little to nothing about the rudder etc... I guess I am about to learn :)

07-22-2013, 11:06 AM
I think there is possibly another aspect to the hard steering problems people are having, which is that the rudder may need to be shaved or "tuned" to the boat. If on the trailer and at idle everything is smooth, easy to turn, greased where it should be etc., then it may not be a mechanical component issue. If the steering gets "harder" as speed increases, and the boat starts to pull more and more to the left or right as speed increases, it could be the interaction of prop rotation and torque, a misaligned prop shaft, and or a rudder that needs to be tuned to account for all that. There are a number of posts here that can explain all that a lot better than I can, but heres my experience.

We have 2002 X-9 that came with the "smallest" rudder MC has used recently, sort of triangle shaped, all angles, no curves to it. The boat pulled a bit to the right, more than I liked when we first got it, and when I told the dealer about it, they "tuned" it the next time I took it on for service. After that, it seemed fine, did not pull much on it's own, easy to steer, etc. That rudder got bent last summer and I replaced it with the "largest" rudder, the one used on the current X series boats. At higher speeds, it started pulling to the right more and more as speed increased, and it took two hands to hold it in a straight line. I shaved off the left trailing edge of the rudder a little at a time, to tune it, and got it to the point where it would steer pretty even or neutral and not pull hard to the right. However, it was still too much rudder for the size of the boat, and when you turned hard to one side, it was difficult to turn it back to going straight. Not as easy to drive as it was with the original rudder.

This summer I replaced that rudder with the "medium" sized one that's used on the current Prostar's and the X-14. It's curved on the bottom, looks kind of like a duckbill, and does not have the long trailing edge like the one on the larger X series boats. Without doing anything to it, the boat did not pull nearly as much to the right, or was not nearly as hard to bring back straight after a hard turn. I shaved the left trailing edge on that rudder, and have it to the point where the boat is fairly neutral, will go straight on it's own with no hands on the steering wheel up to about 40 MPH, as long as I increase the speed slowly. Also, if I make a hard turn at high speed, it's relatively easy to bring it back to center.

So, if you are having a "hard steering" problem, it may help to shave or tune the rudder a bit and see if it helps.

07-28-2013, 11:19 PM
I never really finished this thread. The culprit ended up being the rudder box not getting enough grease and mostly the rudder box being bent. When I dropped the rudder out to inspect I never removed the rudder box. When I decided to upgrade to the new rudder box style and dropped the old one out it was obviously bent. Probably 20 degrees! This would make sense as to why the wheel locked up so much when turned hard since the steering arm off the rudder was not rotating on a flat plane. Putting the new one in was pretty easy. I did have to make the hole larger to fit the new one but that was pretty simple using a drum sander. I will try to post a pic off my phone later of the old one.

07-28-2013, 11:36 PM
PO bent it good. I can't believe there aren't any cracks in the gel coat.

07-29-2013, 12:01 AM
I think that's the first time in nearly ten years of reading this forum that someone's identified a bent rudder box as an issue. Sorry you had to suffer through the tough diagnosis, but glad you're back on the water.

07-29-2013, 10:18 AM
PO bent it good. I can't believe there aren't any cracks in the gel coat.

I wonder how this could happen without any damage to the rudder or anything else. Was the rudder original?

07-29-2013, 10:44 AM
I'm not sure if rudder is original or not. It is the original shape but I have no way of knowing if it's original. It is a stainless shaft though so maybe the box was the weaker link. I'm more surprised that there is no damage to the hull. Either way, I'm glad I removed it to look!

07-29-2013, 10:57 AM
I've seen a few time at our sandbar where an inboard ski boat has been anchored (really near beached) and the rudder buried in the sand. When waves some in from other boats I noticed the boat basically pivoting on the rudder. I'm sure that can't be good and with all the weight focused on the rudder and thus the rudder box this could be a more likely cause of a bent rudder box than an actual strike.