A dependable discussion starter, the steering mechanism that we found on the Jolly Dolphin probably dates from the early part of the 1900’s. It was designed to transfer the rotation of the wheel through 90 degrees to turn a rudder stock which hung below the hull. It had been modified to push and pull two rods which are now connected to the transom hung rudder. We understand that Captain DelConte had the whole thing apart for re-bushing and the addition of grease fittings in the 1970s. Someday we hope to learn if it was previously on another boat and the year it was made.
In August 2016 Capt. DelConte wrote:
When I bought the JD it was literally in separate deliveries. The boat itself was stripped down, in the water next to Mr. Jim’s house at the Marina. It was actually tied to a tree and a couple of stakes in the ground. This kept it centered in a shallow cut about 50 feet from his house. There was a plank on the ground over to the boat and you just walked on.
The running rigging, anchors, sails, disassembled heater, tools and the entire steering gear were in three deliveries to my house as Capt. Simon gathered things up from his barn and put them into his pickup truck. The lines were all Manila and the steering gear was in about a dozen pieces of rusted bolts, nuts, gears, bushings, shafts, brackets and the wheel with no spindles but did have the rusted broken shafts around the outside of the rim. After laying it out on the ground and getting a sense of the arrangement, we cleaned things up and reconstructed it in the steering box on the boat. My Father, who was a retired automobile mechanic, quickly determined that the bushings, gears and the rods going back to the rudder were so worn and badly engineered that we packed it all up and took it to a local machined shop. They made new this and that and Pop came up with the idea of making the connection to the rudder with automotive tie rod ends and shafting and grease fittings throughout.
When it was completed, the net result was a full one turn reduction in the turns on the wheel necessary to take up the mechanical slack and play. That’s the story of the steering gear except that the box also had to be completely rebuilt, reinforced and bolted onto the deck. According to Mr. Jim, Capt Simon didn’t sail the boat that much and after his father passed away, not at all. He was a rigger for DuPont in Delaware.
The steering assembly had been removed from the boat and was being stored/worked on by Capt Simon at his barn. I assume it was at his house but have no idea. I don’t know where Mr Jim got it to begin with It might have been from another boat. Also, the tie rods were simply bent “L” shape at the ends and dropped down into the “wings” on the rudder. Very sloppy and tons of play in the linkage.