The adage “measure twice, order once” holds true when replacing your boat control cables. Before you replace your boat controls, you need to know the exact type of engine and control head you have.
Determining the length of cable you need depends on whether this is the first time you’re installing a cable or replacing an existing one.
Installing a boat control cable for an outboard or a sterndrive and/or inboard requires different measurements, so be aware. Here’s an excellent video tutorial from SeaStar Solutions (formerly known as Teleflex Marine) on how to measure your boat control cable.
Mercury/Mariner/Force and OMC/Johnson/Evinrude engines usually need an "OEM type" cable when using those engine makers' control heads. All other engines and controls use a "universal" type control cable.
Boat Control & Control Cable Maintenance
Proper seasonal maintenance can prevent control system failure. Here are a few maintenance checks you can do (most of them are common sense).
1. Does the steering feel right? Check for proper gear engagement at full and idle throttle.
2. Does the gear assembly look right? Inspect the control head and cable for correct operation of all moving parts, for worn or broken pieces, and for cable wear or misalignment.
3. Are fasteners around the engine and transmission cable tight?
4. Is the cable stiff? If so, replace it.
5. Are the cable ends clean and corrosion free?
6. Are you using a quality water-resistant grease to keep the steering system lubricated throughout the season?
You don't want to repair a broken cable. You want to replace it as an assembly. If you are a DIY-er, check out the extensive controls and cables manuals on the SeaStar website. Or call our boat experts. They can help you determine the right control cable length you need for your marine application.
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