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Old 06-04-2016, 08:17 PM
CherokeeProstar CherokeeProstar is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Boat: 1994 205 Prostar
Location: southeast
Posts: 3
1994 205 Prostar Helm Replacement

Last season, the helm in our 1994 205 Prostar wore to the point that it had a disconcerting bump in the steering as the wheel was rotated past the straight ahead position. There is significant play in the steering shaft of the helm. I discovered that there is not a simple fix.

Firstly, these boats were supplied with a Teleflex Big T tilt helm. This is a rotary cable helm with three turns lock to lock. Teleflex is now called Seastar, and they no longer supply the Big T tilt helm. I called customer support, and while they were very nice, they said they sold fewer than 50 a year, and they fielded only a few calls from boaters like me who really needed that helm.

Seastar recommends the Safe-T Quick Connect helm as a replacement. This helm will fit the Prostar with the original tilt mechanism and it is the same 3 turns lock to lock as the original. It requires the new style QC cable instead of the threaded cable that is original to these boats.
The disadvantage to this helm is that it fits much closer to the back of the dash and the offset gearbox interferes with the radio. Even the new shallow mount radios are too deep to fit in the stock location without hitting the helm gear box.
This is a good solution if you want stock performance and you don't mind deleting or relocating the radio.

Seastar also recommended the Big T helm without tilt. I tried this helm also, and found that while it could be mounted without interfering with the radio, this mounting position required the steering wheel to be fixed, and very close to the dashboard. The advantages are that the radio can be retained in the stock position, and the original cable can be used. A QC cable can also be used with an adapter. This helm uses a tapered, keyed shaft, so you will need a new steering wheel or an adapter. I found the steering wheel position of this helm to be unacceptably close to the dash. It may be possible to remachine the shaft of the Big T and use the mounting part of your old Big T tilt helm to create a new Big T tilt helm. The shaft is long enough to allow this but Seastar customer support said lawyers would swoop down on me like vultures and my insurance company would deny my claim if I did this and the boat was involved in an accident.

Option three is the Uflex rotary tilt helm. This helm uses a planetary gear system that allows the steering shaft to pass through the center of the gear box instead of being offset. This allows the helm to fit close behind the dash without interfering with the radio or the electronics on the starboard side of the helm. It is a tight fit. The cables must run above and below the radio, but the helm physically fits the boat without cutting the fibreglass or deleting the radio. Disadvantages are that the steering ratio is slower, at 3.8 turns lock to lock, and it requires its own tilt mechanism. This tilt mechanism also uses a tapered, keyed shaft that will necessitate a new steering wheel or an adapter. It is also incompatible with the screw type cable that came with these boats. Uflex supplies their own cables or you can use the Seastar QC cable. (I hope)

I installed the Uflex tilt helm (purchased from Skidim.com) with the x-52 tilt mechanism, a 17ft Seastar QC cable and a 14 inch Seastar wheel. This mishmash of components came from the long trial and error process of fitting this stuff and the lack of any good posts on the internet regarding this exact issue.

If I had it to do over again, I would use the Uflex helm, tilt and cable and buy a $20 adapter so I could use my stock steering wheel.

ON THE WATER, at speed this helm feels great, and the disconcerting play on center is gone. At low speed, the slower rack and the smaller wheel mean that larger steering inputs must be made as compared to the stock setup. I also note some play in the steering before the rudder starts to move. I don't know if this is a side affect of the Uflex helm/Seastar cable combination, or if this is inherent in this helm. The rudder setup removes any play in the steering at speed.

As an aside, it was really easy to push the cable up from the engine compartment to the helm. There must be a smoothly curved conduit to guide it. Also, actually installing these components was quite easy, once I had the right combination. You do have to drill three new mounting holes, but that is the extent of the modificaions to the boat.

So this is an ugly problem with no perfect solution that I have found. The Uflex helm worked best for me.
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  #2  
Old 06-10-2016, 08:18 AM
CherokeeProstar CherokeeProstar is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Boat: 1994 205 Prostar
Location: southeast
Posts: 3
After 3 days of use, I'm happy with the Uflex helm. My 16 year old daughter landed the boat flawlessly the first time she drove it this year, so the difference in steering ratio is not going to be a problem. The new steering wheel feels good and looks less 22 years old than the original, so it may be a keeper too. I still wish it didn't have the play on center, but I can't remember if the old helm was that way or not. I do have photos of the helm in place that I'll post later.
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  #3  
Old 06-10-2016, 04:56 PM
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vanlew vanlew is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Boat: 1993 205, 351 engine, wake air tower
Location: Southeast
Posts: 75
Good information and writeup, hope I don't need it
DD
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  #4  
Old 06-10-2016, 05:23 PM
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Double D Double D is offline
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Boat: 2008 X14, w/ LY6 400HP
Location: UCLA (Upper Canton, Lower Akron)
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Yes thanks, and I hope I don't ever need it either.


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