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Tillers, Rudders & Steering

How to Replace a Tiller Extension Rubber Universal | Expert Advice

Sailing season is back in full swing, and it’s that time again to replace the old, worn out Tiller Universal. Too often I see a race or pleasure cruisers day ruined when a universal joint fails. Don’t let this happen to you: examine often and replace early! Watch the video and learn how to remove the old tiller universal, drill out the new one, and install the pin for a sleek and secure fit. Tools you will need: NEW Universal Replacement Hammer Punch or […]

Sailing season is back in full swing, and it’s that time again to replace the old, worn out Tiller Universal. Too often I see a race or pleasure cruisers day ruined when a universal joint fails.

Don’t let this happen to you: examine often and replace early!Tiller Universal Replacement Kit

Watch the video and learn how to remove the old tiller universal, drill out the new one, and install the pin for a sleek and secure fit.

Tools you will need:
  • NEW Universal Replacement
  • Hammer
  • Punch or Nail
  • Drill and properly sized bit
  • Heat gun or lighter
  • Shrink Wrap (if not included with your new universal)

 

tiller universal baseThings to Note:  Not all universals are as “universal” as the name implies.  The main difference is the receiver, which lives on the tiller, and the shape of the cap that locks it
into it.  Try to match a manufacturer’s label on the tiller extension to find the right universal joint replacement.
That being said, getting the wrong brand is not the end of the world.  Most are made to fit a standard 5/8 inch diameter tube with an ID of .55 inches.

 

Every replacement comes with a new receiver (the part on the tiller) so installing a different brand universal only means you have to also switch to the new receiver.

Simply remove the 2 fasteners and replace for a proper fit.
*As seen in this example, the partner on the tiller has rounded sides.  The new universal I
installed has a square, boxy cover. Worry not, I simply back out the two screws and replace it with the new receiver to match.

Carbon Tiller Extension Comparison | Expert Advice

Tech Tuesday is our feature here at the Stern Scoop where we plan to highlight some of the more technical aspects of some of our products. From line specs to how to properly rebuild a winch we hope to provide some fodder for the tinkerers and engineer types out there. Today we’re starting with some detailed specs on carbon tiller extensions. We offer seven different types with rubber universals (there are some larger big boat extensions made of carbon as […]

Tech Tuesday is our feature here at the Stern Scoop where we plan to highlight some of the more technical aspects of some of our products. From line specs to how to properly rebuild a winch we hope to provide some fodder for the tinkerers and engineer types out there.


Today we’re starting with some detailed specs on carbon tiller extensions. We offer seven different types with rubber universals (there are some larger big boat extensions made of carbon as well from Forespar). From top to bottom we have the Acme Fatso, Acme Fatso Jr., JCD, Ronstan, Forespar Giant Stick, Forespar Big Stick and Holt Allen. I threw a quarter and a dollar bill in there for a size comparison.

We felt that the two most important measurable qualities of carbon tiller extensions were their stiffness and their weight. To that end we’ve crunched the numbers and come up with the following results. All the extensions measured were 48″ or the closest length the manufacturer makes (+/- 1″ or so). You can click on each product for more details like cost and diameter.

Product Weight (oz) Deflection (inches)
Acme Fatso 7.7 1/8″ (Best)
Acme Fatso Jr. 5.8 9/16″
JCD 9.2 7/16″
Ronstan 6.7 1 7/8″
Forespar Giant Stick 6.9 5/32″
Forespar Big Stick 7.5 7/16″
Holt Allen 5.5 (Best) 7/8″

We measured the weight of the extensions on a postal scale. To measure the deflection we supported them at both ends and hung a 26lb weight from the center point of the extensions. Kudos to Ian for developing this testing rig and doing all the deflection measurements.

While I think with more time and an engineering degree a more accurate testing process could be devised I think we’ve provided an accurate means by which to determine relative weight and stiffness for these extensions.

Grip and diameter are a matter of personal preference. Obviously the thicker extensions performed better in our deflection test and tended to be heavier (although the Forespar is actually lighter). The Holt Allen and Ronstan’s have foam grips and the JCD has basically a rope wound around the end which is then shrink wrapped. The Acme and Forespar extensions have a textured sandpaper like feel.

The picture above is of the Ronstan which obviously had a bit more bend than the others. The Ronstan is also the only tapered extension so that might be related to the bending.

Which one is the best? I think based on the numbers the Acme Fatso Jr. looks like the winner to be with the best combination of stiff and lightweight. I prefer the textured grip of the Acme and Forespar over the foam but again that’s more of a personal preference. If you want a larger diameter to hold onto the Forespar Giant Stick is a great choice as well.

LP XD Laser tiller, red and black at an angle

Laser Performance XD Tiller and Tiller Extension | Expert Review

We’ve been sending out our first shipments of the new Laser Performance XD Carbon Laser Tiller and the XD Carbon Tiller Extension over the past week, making it the perfect time for a review. (Note: For those of you not familiar with the relatively new “XD” tag being used with Lasers, it refers to Laser Performance’s most tricked out racing package. LP is now selling Standard, Race and XD models of the Laser — all three have the same hull, […]

We’ve been sending out our first shipments of the new Laser Performance XD Carbon Laser Tiller and the XD Carbon Tiller Extension over the past week, making it the perfect time for a review.LP-XD-Laser-tiller-blog

(Note: For those of you not familiar with the relatively new “XD” tag being used with Lasers, it refers to Laser Performance’s most tricked out racing package. LP is now selling Standard, Race and XD models of the Laser — all three have the same hull, spars and blades, but everything else is customized depending on the level of sailing you’re planning on.)

The XD tiller and tiller extension combo has been shipping with new XD Lasers for most of the year, but this is the first time they’re available as stand alone products. I took the opportunity to take some pictures and check out how these two innovative products stand up against the rest of the tiller and extension offerings for Laser sailors. LP-XD-laser-tiller-horizontalMy initial first impression is that the tiller is a bit flashy. You immediately get the feeling that Xzibit paid a visit to the LP factory and “pimped their ride”.

Looks aside it’s very stiff and doesn’t sacrifice weight savings to achieve this – it weighs in a mere 0.1 oz heavier than the popular Acme Carbon Laser Tiller. The XD Tiller achieves this with its unique shape: the main body of the tiller is arched and this arch is mirrored on the underside. It’s difficult to see in our pictures, but a cross section of the tiller is shaped like an upside-down U.

The result is a super light, super stiff tiller. This isn’t without a downside, as it has a taller profile than the Acme or many other available carbon tillers. As you can see in the picture to the right, the XD’s profile is almost twice that of the Acme, which is the thinnest tiller we currently have. The XD’s profile is about the same as the standard black aluminum tube that has come standard on the Laser in the past.LP-XD-laser-tiller-extension-horizontal The tiller extension is a relatively standard 48″ (actually measures more like 49″) straight carbon affair. It is 24mm in diameter, which is comparable to the Acme Fatso Jr. Unlike the Fatso the universal doesn’t swivel but it is attached with a fairly standard looking pin & shrink wrap arrangement, so replacement should be much easier.

One welcome surprise was that the grip on the tiller extension is fantastic. It has an almost sandpaper like texture, but it’s not so aggressive that it would be uncomfortable for extended use on a long day of racing.

Overall, I think these new XD products are a solid offering from the US Laser manufacturer. The tiller is not my favorite – partially due to its cosmetics, but mostly due to its height compared to the Acme. The design of the XD will slightly hinder your ability to suck the traveler down tight. If there is a positive to the design, the arch shape should allow the traveler block to slide across better than most, but I don’t know if that makes up for the extra height. At $232 it’s also a bit steeper than the Acme at $205 (pending ’09 price changes).

I do think the tiller extension is great – excellent grip and stiffness. At $97 it’s $5 cheaper than the Acme 48″ Jr. so that’s a pretty good deal. I could easily see this extension become the standard across the board for racers especially since it has the built in advantage of coming with new XD boats.