Feelfree’s 8 Ball Steering offers an easy steering solution for either the original Feelfree rudder, or the Feelfree Beaver Tail on your Dorado, or Lure kayak. Installing your 8 Ball Steering is straightforward and requires just a few simple tools you should have around your house.
Here, you will learn how to not only install, and adjust, but disassemble and reassemble your 8 Ball Steering should you need to.
Tip #1: Installation
Quick Tip: Before beginning the installation, be sure not to rotate the handle of your 8 Ball Steering.
First lay out all the components included with your 8 Ball Steering. You will also need to grab a phillips head screwdriver, and the allen wrench that came with your 8 Ball Steering
Step No. 1: Without rotating the handle of the 8 Ball Steering, mount the steering unit using the two included phillips screws to the stainless steel mounting plate to the left of the Gravity Seat. Do not over tighten the screws.
Step No. 2: Using the included allen wrench, loosen the allen bolt in the elbow of the 8 Ball Steering arm. This will allow the arm to move from front to back
Step No. 3: Slowly rotate the 8 Ball handle so that the shaft that connects that 8 ball to the elbow points straight up into the air (like a rocket on a launchpad). See figure 1. This is what we will refer to as the “neutral position” for the steering handle.
Step No. 4: With the handle in the neutral position, use the allen wrench to tighten the allen screw in the elbow of the 8 Ball Steering. Next tighten the black tensioner knob on the front of the 8 Ball Steering. This will lock the handle into the neutral position.
Step No. 5: Run both cables through the cable tubes to the rear of the kayak. The left cable goes in the left tube, and the right cable in the right. If they have difficulty emerging from the end of the tube, simply twist the cable and work it gently in the tube.
Step No. 6: Once you have both cables through the cable tubes, move the rudder to the center position (the position the rudder is in to move the kayak straight through the water). This is what we will refer to as the “neutral position” for the rudder.
Quick Tip: The neutral position of the 8 Ball Steering handle must correspond to the neutral position of the rudder.
Step No. 7: Attach each of the two rudder cables, one at a time, to the rudder using the included hardware. Take as much slack out of the cables as possible without putting permanent tension into the system. The system works best when both of the cables are nearly tight but not quite.
Step No. 8: Screw down the set screws securing each of the two rudder cables into position. Make sure that once secure, the rudder cable termination nuts can spin freely on the rudder.
Step No. 9: If desired, trim the ends of the cables and crimp the included wire caps on each wire.
Step No. 10: Run the black pull up cord to the rudder. Ensure the cable runs over the first metal roller (in the rear of the rudder), and under the second metal roller (in the front of the rudder). Insert the cord into the only remaining cable tube, and gently twist it until it emerges from the tube. With the rudder in the down (deployed) position, tie the pull up knob 1” from the black pull up cord cleat. Trim the end of the cord.
Step No. 11: Loosen the black tensioner knob on the front of the 8 Ball Steering, and slowly move the 8 Ball Steering handle from the left to the right to ensure that your system has a full, smooth range of motion (note that if your rudder is in the up position, it will affect the range of motion due to the tension from the pull up cord). If desired, use the allen wrench to adjust the 8 Ball Steering handle forward or back to suit your needs.
Congratulations! You have successfully installed your 8 Ball Steering.
Tip #2 Rebuilding your Steering System
If for some reason you need to disassemble the 8 Ball Steering, don’t be discouraged. It is a simple system that a person without mechanical knowledge can tackle in about an hour or so.
Before you begin you will need to grab a phillips head screwdriver, a permanent marker, and a set of allen wrenches (or the ones that came with your 8 ball steering).
Step No.1: Begin by removing the two phillips head screws that attach the 8 Ball Steering to the stainless steel mounting bracket.
Step No. 2: In order, remove 1. the black tensioner knob, 2. the plastic collar, 3. the 8 ball handle, 4. the small pin, and 5. the through bolt.
See figure 2.
Step No. 3: Remove the seven bolts holding the outer housing in place. Remove the outer housing.
Quick Tip: Note that if the rudder cables are attached to the rudder it will be difficult to adjust the rudder cable disc inside the 8 Ball Steering. To work freely inside the steering unit, be sure to disconnect the rudder cables from the rudder if they are attached.
The rudder cable disc inside the housing contains either 2 or 3 slots that hold the stub ends of the rudder cables. If your disc has three slots, use the two that are nearest to each other to hold the stubs on the rudder cables.
The two stub ends of the cables must terminate at the front end of the 8 Ball Steering unit (there must be equal amounts of each of the two cables inside the housing, with the stub ends nearest where the handle and tensioner cable will be reassembled). This is the neutral position for the rudder cable disc. See figure 3.
Quick Tip: When reassembling your 8 Ball Steering, the neutral position of the rudder cable disc must correspond to the neutral position of the handle, and the neutral position of the rudder. If all 3 neutral positions do not correspond with each other, the steering will not have full range of motion.
Once you have the rudder cable disc in the neutral position, use a permanent marker to mark each of the rudder cables where they emerge from the housing of the 8 Ball Steering. This will allow you to know the orientation of the rudder cable disc, once you reassemble the housing.
To reassemble your 8 Ball Steering ensure your rudder cable disc is in the neutral position (see above) and follow the steps below.
Step No. 1: Place the outer housing back into place, and screw in all 7 allen screws holding the housing in place.
Step No. 2: Reattach the 8 Ball Steering to the kayak using the mounting bracket and the two phillips screws.
Step No. 3: Using the marks you made on the rudder cables, ensure that the rudder disc cable is in the neutral position (see above).
Step No. 4: Replace the through bolt with the hole for the pin aligned horizontally. Slide the pin through the side of the through bolt.
Step No. 5: Without moving the cables, reattach the 8 Ball handle into its neutral position (see above). Ensure that the pin slides through the slot in the handle.
You have now aligned the neutral position of the rudder cable disc with the neutral position of the 8 Ball Steering handle.
Quick Tip: In this order, reassemble 1. the plastic collar, and 2. the tensioner knob.
Before attaching the rudder, be sure that you tighten the tensioner knob to ensure the 8 Ball Steering handle does not move from the neutral position.
Attach the rudder cables to the rudder, ensuring that the neutral position of the rudder corresponds to the neutral position of the handle (see above). Remove any slack from the lines, but also keep the cables from being tight and putting constant tension on the system. Tighten the allen screws on the rudder to lock the rudder cables into place. You have now aligned the neutral position of the rudder cable disc with the neutral position of the 8 Ball Steering handle and the neutral position of the rudder.
Loosen the black tensioner knob on the 8 Ball Steering, and slowly move the 8 Ball Steering handle from the left to the right to ensure that your system has a full, smooth range of motion (note that if your rudder is in the up position, it will affect the range of motion due to the
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Written and edited by Bobby Ulrich, Feelfree US Pro Staff Team Member