Cable Clamp Tricks

Cable Clamp Tricks

Posted by Dave on Dec 19th 2022

Our friends* at Captain Q posted a video of a staggeringly nice Ted Hood boat last week, and a few astute commenters caught a great but easily missed detail on the quadrant. 

Leaving aside how urgently this steering cable looks like it needs replacement - the strands show obvious rust and I think I see a few meat hook strands in there also. 

We've noted a bunch of times that the adjusting eye securement nuts (in yellow circle), and even though it looks like they are doing the split here, there are two nuts properly installed on the load side of the adjustment eye - all good. 

On any cable clamp assembly, there is a "live" side (green arrow) of the wire and a "dead" side (red arrow) of the wire. The live side is the working side and goes to whatever the cable is pulling on. The dead side is the bitter end. The cable clamps in this installation are installed backward to the recommended method.

Notice how much the live cable is deformed by the u-bolts, while the dead side maintains its shape. Installing the clamps this way weakens the cable at the worst part of this system. The live side at the blue-circled cable clamp sees the most load of anything in this picture, and the cable is really crushed right there, which weakens it. As you follow the cable from that clamp to the second clamp, around the thimble, and then back through the clamps on the dead side, the load the cable sees decreases that whole way through friction and clamping force (which is itself friction).

These cables need to be replaced anyway, so hopefully the people who buy this boat will install the clamps the right way with the new cables. Have a look at how this is done in your boat, and if it's the way this boat is then flip the clamps. It's not going to be too much easier or harder to do one of the other first, but you definitely want to do one and then the other without ever undoing both at the same time. Also, if you have the tail length left over on the dead side, consider moving the blue-circled clamp farther away from the thimble, which puts you onto a fresh part of that cable and decreases the load that the crushed part sees. 

*I really hate it when companies throw around the whole "our good friends at..." stuff, but in this case we actually hang out with them.