Q: SEIZED STEERING
In the February issue, Vasil Koleci wrote about his problem of difficult steering on his Volvo Penta sterndrive. The Boating Doctor’s analysis of a seized steering fork is 99.9 percent correct. The steering fork has seized due to a lack of lubrication over the years. Even though it has a grease nipple and you may have religiously pumped grease into it, it usually does not prevent the steering fork from freezing up eventually, because the grease usually comes squirting out at the top (path of least resistance) before it goes all the way down and reaches every spot of the shaft and bushings. It’s a design flaw, and you may loosen it up a little by forcing penetrating oil through the grease nipple, but in the end, the only way to really fix this problem the right way is to remove the fork, clean it thoroughly, make sure that all grease grooves are clean and open, and repack it with grease and put it all back together. But here is the problem. This is not an easy job because the fork is most likely so stuck that it takes special tools or extreme ingenuity on your part to do it yourself without doing more damage than good to your boat. Some people have brutally hammered it out, and if the fork is not too stuck, it may come out, if you are lucky. If not, you can crack the housing, and then you are in a world of hurt. But you certainly will have a damaged fork and will have to replace it. I had the same problem and gave it a lot of thought, and then built myself a tool to do the job. Enclosed are pictures of my steering-fork puller, showing how you can do the same and save yourself a ton of money.
Rick Wetzler Mobile, Alabama A: Thank you for sharing, Rick.