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 Post subject: 2012 A20 Steering cable issue
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:04 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:04 pm
Posts: 4
Last September I purchased my first wakeboard boat, a 2012 A20. Very exciting! I was able to use it for about three weeks or so before having to stop for the season. Everything was mostly fine, except there seemed to be a little bit of play in the steering, but not so much that I really took notice. At some point, the amount of play increased from 'just a bit', to a bit more that a 1/2 of a revolution of the steering wheel. Yikes! I hindsight, I think this happened right about the time I tried adjusting the tilt steering wheel for the first time.

Yesterday I got to troubleshooting the sloppy steering issue. I read a bunch of other forum posts which focused on:
1) loose hex set screws in the tilt-steering mechanism
2) stretched out steering cable which needed replacement
3) issue with the rudder box

I couldn't find the set screws in the steering assembly. My assembly didn't seem to look like the photos I saw in the other posts. I moved on to the bilge to check the cable in that area. When my helper turned the wheel, I heard a bit of a clanking noise. I grabbed hold of the steering cable and moved it back and forth. Yes, it moved back and forth! That's not what I expected at all. What I found was that there is a piece of right-angle aluminum that acts as a bracket for the steering cable to be secured to. That bracket is mounted underneath the motor mount bracket on the starboard side. In my case, that bracket had a single bolt through it and the motor mount bracket, and it was crazy lose, which allowed the whole steering cable assembly to travel fore and aft about a half inch.

The one bolt that is in the bracket is stainless steel, has a stainless steel washer on both sides (head & nut), and has a brass colored nylon locking nut. The flat washers have been collapsed into the hole in the bracket on both the front and the back sides. This make me think that the either the holes were drilled out too big, or the wrong / too small bolts were used. The bolt I removed is 5/16" (1/2" head), marked 30400 (stainless). Last note on this- getting a wrench on both the front and back of the bracket and wrenching on them was a huge pain in the butt! They're not in an easy spot to access. I don't have a measurement on the hole size.

So my question to the hive-mind: How would you go about repairing this issue?

My thought is to simply source some new stainless bolts, washers, and nylock nuts, and probably move up at least one size. Maybe double up on washers to help avoid having them cave again.

The aluminum bracket has been reemed out a bit, as you can see in the photo. Does it warrant replacement? Should I contact Axis or my local Axis dealer about this issue? I purchased the boat via private sale and don't have a relationship (yet!) with the nearest Axis dealer.

Once I address the current issue of the mounting bracket, I'll have to resume troubleshooting of the steering slack. Is it possible that the play in the cable mount would cause a 1/2 revolution of steering slack, or am I going to have to find and address a 2nd issue? FWIW, the steering is very smooth and easy in both directions.


2019-03-25 13_41_47-AxisA20 steering bracket 01.jpg
2019-03-25 13_41_47-AxisA20 steering bracket 01.jpg [ 436.46 KiB | Viewed 3789 times ]
2019-03-25 13_37_08-20190324_170014-AxisA20 steering bracket 02.jpg
2019-03-25 13_37_08-20190324_170014-AxisA20 steering bracket 02.jpg [ 127.88 KiB | Viewed 3789 times ]
 Post subject: Re: 2012 A20 Steering cable issue
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:42 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:04 pm
Posts: 4
Here's the follow up-

As intended, I ordered up some new 7/16 stainless bolts, washers, and nylock nuts (with wax) from Bolt Depot. They didn't have 7/16 nylock nuts in brass, so I went with stainless- not my first choice, but I think it'll be fine. In the process of researching, I learned that stainless on stainless threads are very prone to galling.

For those interested, more info on galling here and here.

The right-angle mounting bracket is to be secured to a piece of fiberglass, which I originally thought was sheet metal. This worked to my advantage as I had to run a drill bit through the existing holes to open them up ever so slightly to allow for the new bolts to be used; fiberglass drills more easily than sheet metal. The difficult part was simply getting a combination of wrenches, sockets, and a small impact driver in position to secure the fasteners. It took about an hour of trial and error, cuts and scrapes, body contortion, and some colorful language, but I was finally able to get the fasteners torqued down.

The reward- no more play in the steering! I also was able to observe that when I had the fasteners only hand tight and had my helper turn the steering wheel that because the rod coming out of the end of the steering cable sleeve is attached to a pivot point on the rudder box arm, it caused a side-to-side twisting motion at the bracket. Knowing this, I then understood that if only one bolt was present in the bracket, that torsional force would push and pull on the bolt and could likely cause the washers to cave in and give way.

The bonus discovery was that I found the brass nut rolling around under the location of the missing bracket fastener. AND... it was NOT a nylock nut! Though it was brass. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that a non-locking nut was originally used in this application was the root-cause of the problem here. I have all the dealer service records for the boat, none of which specify any work ever having being done with the steering system. Makes me wonder if it was assembled at the factory like this, what was that person thinking using one locking nut and one non-locking nut on this bracket.

One final note- while doing this work, I noticed that the motor mount in this same location was about 1/4 of a turn from being snug- it was just loose. The boat was hauled from Indian to Maine last year when I purchased it. Perhaps riding on the trailer all those miles shook a few things loose. I'll be inspecting every fastener I can find on the boat before she goes back in the water in a couple weeks!

 Post subject: Re: 2012 A20 Steering cable issue
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am 
Team Axis
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Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:19 pm
Posts: 197
Location: SE Wisconsin
Glad to see you've worked it out. I've replaced the steering cable in my 12 A20. As with any job working from the rear lockers, its a ton of fun getting your body into incredibly uncomfortable positions to reach around the engine.

2012 A20

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