The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Lubricate Steering Chains and Cables

I mentioned in another tip that I have just finished a full maintenance on the steering gear on our new-to-us J/109 and that nothing was properly lubricated before I started and probably never had been.

On that subject, I have long noticed that the chain and steering cables on many boats are bereft of any grease, even if the rest of the gear is well maintained.

I think this is a mistake, particularly if we are putting on big-time miles, as Phyllis and I were for three decades on our McCurdy and Rhodes 56.

So I always lubricate the chain where it goes over the sprocket, and the cables where they go over sheaves, with my favourite Lubriplate 130-AA grease.

I just put a glove on and slather it on, although I guess a little brush would work too, but that way we don’t get it in our hair…a little dab’ll do ya—if you know what that was about, you are old, too.

Once a year or every 10,000 miles seems to keep everything well and truly slippery.

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Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Steering definately gets too little love on many boats.
As per Edson’s maintenance instructions, I have always brushed on 30 weight oil on the chain for regular maintenance. Heavier lubricant (LubriMatics Marine Wheel Bearing grease)I rubbed into the chain when the chain was off and certainly when the chain was new and/or hade been de-greased.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Terence Thatcher

I have always used SAE 30 on the chain. But Edson now sells a spray on lube. Any comments or thoughts?

Dan Perrott

I’ve wondered if a bicycle or motorbike chain lube would be better for the chain. Grease has a tendancy to attract dirt. Chain lubes keep chains good under much harsher conditions.