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Boat wanders side to side at idle speeds, Why?

Old 04-08-2011, 11:18 AM
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My 38 Fountain with full hydraulic doesn't do it at all, my friends 29 Advantage with full hydraulic doesnt do it either, my 29 Advantage (same hull) with cable over does do it.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:26 AM
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On single screw set ups, propeller torque causes it. It may seem like you want to adjust the wheel to compensate for it, but if you leave the wheel straight, the bow will usually partially come back > Of course all boats are slightly different.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:26 AM
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The trim tabs all the way down will eliminate almost all of the wandering...
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by 30ctsutphen View Post
I am dying to hear the responces on this myself, I see this allot even on smaller single's and While I think sometimes its set up, like toe in or out on the tie bar or something I never have fully understood what the causes it for sure.

Bad bushings on an older boat I would imagine can cause it as well, but I am no expert on this sort of thing at all.

I hope someone has a definitive answer

Does the boat do it all the time in every slow moving situation or only sometimes in some places?
The boat only has 300 hours on it and everything is like new. I checked and there isn't any play anywhere. The steering is cable to the inside of transom and the hydraulic rams on the transom. Yes, it does it all the time, some times worse than other but un acceptable all of the time.

I even tried idling on one engine to see if that helped, it did a bit, but still no joy.

My last boat was a Fountain 35 lightning and it was not like this, maybe only a little, but not a problem. I should have kept it!
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:28 AM
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Default Look for the drunk midget in the bilge!

Yes, I said that!

He only has enough strength to push the steering arms side to side when the boat idles! At speed, the noise makes him hide in his special place.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:45 AM
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My 27 with a single did it, and it had hyd steering. I don't believe it is a type of steering issue, just a nature of the beast. Tabs and drives down helped, idleing just a tad faster does away with it. I found it best to not try to correct it by counter steering. Seems the lag time was always off. Just point in the direction and let'r go.

My 32 (hyd steering) and 29 (non hyd) twins do not.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Marginmn View Post
My 38 Fountain with full hydraulic doesn't do it at all, my friends 29 Advantage with full hydraulic doesnt do it either, my 29 Advantage (same hull) with cable over does do it.
My 28 is fully hydraulic stem to stern- wanders.

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Old 04-08-2011, 12:15 PM
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I think you’re going to find three common causes for this one. First is hardware related when steering components wear or wear out. Wear leads to play and play leads to wandering. But, as you said, your steering components seem to be in good shape.

Next is hydrodynamics. Some hulls just wander more than others. This gets into a combination of drive height, hull length, deadrise, etc. The sad truth is that some hulls just wander more than others. I’ve seen some that are pretty darn scary, but as has already been mentioned, if you leave the boat to its own and don’t “over correct,” these boats will generally “wander in a straight line.”

The third reason is wind and / or current. I remember bringing a customer’s 26’ Celebrity cruiser down a channel one day with a gusty 25 MPH cross wind. One minute I was going straight, the next minute I was headed straight for the pier. That was a real “Depends Undergarment Moment” – if you know what I mean.

Where it gets really interesting is if you have more than one of the conditions I mentioned above. For instance, let’s say you have a hull that naturally wanders, with bad steering, on a windy day. That’s when you let the wife drive.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:26 PM
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It's the nature of the beast - particularly for a single- screw boat...prop rotation will naturally want to turn the boat one direction--your correction starts a never-ending cycle at slow (idle)speeds. As mentioned above - putting the trim tabs down a little will even this out and make it a little more bearable.
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Old 04-08-2011, 01:12 PM
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I've heard it referred to as bow steering and wandering. My boat has done it since brand new, a 21 ft. Baja Hammer. I think it's a combination of the hull, waves, and set-up, but deep Vs are prone to it. Some I guess more than others.
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