What Type Of Engine Uses A Tiller For Steering

A tiller is a lever used to turn a boat that is attached to the rudder. Power and sailboats have tillers, and the easiest way to maneuver a boat is with a tiller and rudder. The steering system can quickly become complicated, where it needs precise alignment to various rudders and steering parts.

These trickier steering mechanisms are often attached to a wheel or tiller. You can also find some boats use tillers even when they use multiple rudders, while others don’t. If you use smaller boats or kayaks fitted with such devices, the controls can be confusing as a tiller is back to front compared to a steering wheel.

When using a steering wheel, you turn in the desired direction, yet when using a tiller, you move in the opposite direction you want to turn. In our guide, you can learn more about using such devices on small fishing boats. By the end, you’ll see what kind of engine you fit to a transom to give you this type of steering. (Learn How To Put Fishing Line On A Closed Reel)

tiller engine

What Is a Tiller Outboard Motor Steering System?

The handle or lever that connects to a small boat’s rudder is known as a tiller.

So, an outboard engine with a lever for maneuvering the boat is an example of a tiller motor steering system.

This steering system is often found on boat motors with 15 horsepower or less.

Jon boats, possibly kayaks, and other small fishing boats are watercraft examples that use this system.

Also using a tiller steering system are sailboats. These are different water vessels powered by wind and without engines yet still use rudders for maneuvering.

It is possible to steer a sailboat in any direction using merely the tiller as it connects to the rudder.

A tiller connects to the rudder, as was previously described, like how your car steering system connects the steering wheel.

The wheels turn in the direction you turn your steering wheel.

At first, it could seem difficult, yet this system works, and all you need to remember is to shift the tiller in the direction opposite to where you want to go.

In addition, for steering, you’ll be next to the engine rather than sitting in a cockpit.

Most manufacturers of these motors often put markings on their tillers to know which is for acceleration and deceleration, so it is worth checking the manual to learn to operate your watercraft safely.

Benefits of Outboard Motor Tiller Steering System?


  • Boats need a console such as those you see under a cockpit in larger boats; in these sits the outboard motor throttle levers and steering wheels. A tiller steering system is preferable if your boat isn’t big enough.
  • Your tackle boxes, live bait containers, and other fishing equipment can all be stored in the stern of your boat.
  • In the front and middle of the boat, there’s plenty of room to move around. In addition, a tiller system makes carrying multiple passengers easy, depending on your boat size.
  • Many boaters adore the simplicity of these boat steering types. At slow speeds, they offer a lot of control and excellent maneuverability.
  • Even when turning with one hand, you’ll never struggle. In addition, you can quickly speed up the power or slow down as a throttle mechanism is already included in the tiller lever.
  • The boat’s outboard motor has contemporary tiller mechanisms. It has a simple layout with few potential trouble spots, so the system is simple to maintain.


  • The only downside of a tiller steering system is how you operate the direction shift, the handle goes right, and you go left.

type of engine for tiller

What Type of Engine Uses a Tiller for Steering?

To quickly cut through different types of water environments, boaters usually use either an inboard or outboard engine.

So that they can have the maximum maneuverability for easy movement; however, for using a boat tiller for steering, there’s only one type of engine that allows so.

It is an outboard engine that sits on the outer part of the boat, not the interior.

The tiller handle holds the job of letting the user have the whole boat’s moving capability. Unfortunately, it looks like a long stick you must handle with your hands. (Find the Best Fishing Shows To Watch)

Since with an outboard engine, your boat will already work with the fullest power. Therefore, a steering wheel is not necessary.

This can be further disturbing for a proper maneuver need. In such scenarios, a tiller is usually best as it can give you the right amount of control as well as the power that you’ll need.

When searching for an outboard, you’ll need to consider horsepower, steering, start, trim, and shaft length. You can use a boat tiller handle or not for steering. The answer will vary depending on how you plan to use your motor.

position of tiller

Where is a tiller on a boat?

It might be fitted to the stern of the boat, through the decking, or it can be in front of the boat.

Wherever it is, the length and fittings vary from boat to boat.

The tiller is still used to guide the boat when one is equipped with one. Boats under 30 feet and primary sailboats can be seen with tillers.

However, many fishing and pleasure boats still use tillers for steering, and some powerboats do.

Since a tiller is simpler and easier to repair if it breaks, it is preferred to a wheel for boat steering. However, the parts of a steering system can also be intricate and add weight to a boat.

Some modern boats, like sailing and ocean kayaks, move the rudder side to side using foot pedals attached to pulleys. This kind of system works well on some boats but not on others.

A tiller is a device attached to small outboard motors and used to turn the engine and the ability to regulate the boat’s speed. These are typically seen in outboard motors with 15 hp or less. To be used on some boats, they even provide tiller extensions.

The motor’s push serves in its place, even if they don’t have a rudder. Many models of outboard tillers house the throttle, while some include additional features.

Steering Difference from Other Types Of Engines.

Various boat engines steer differently from outboards. For example, the inboard engine is the opposite of the outboard engine and sits in the hull.

This uses water differently and is a four-stroke engine to power the drive shaft that works the propeller.

Inboard engines don’t allow boat steering. Instead, they used rudders sitting behind the propeller and use a steering wheel.

A stern drive is another engine, which is an inboard-outboard combo. It shares features from inboards, such as a four-stroke, and the engine powers a boat’s hull forward.

It also has drive unit similarities with an outboard. This helps to steer. The stern drive’s steer function uses a steering wheel and a turning mechanism to determine the boat’s direction. (Find the Best Trolling Motors)

The final engine highlighted is jet power. It propels and steers using water. The boat’s bottom intake is open, and the jet drive accelerates the water by the transom to propel the boat.

This engine’s steering power depends on the outgoing water stream. To control movement, change direction. Low-speed steering is difficult with these engines and nearly impossible to go in reverse.

Basics for a Tiller Outboard Motor

  • Put the safety lanyard on.
  • Check the fuel line connections on small, portable gasoline tanks because they are not always trustworthy.
  • To shift gears, use the engine-mounted shift handle, often found on the front of the outboard engines, on the opposite side of the tiller. But, again, each model is a little bit different, and they could be toward the starboard side or not.
  • The most crucial thing to remember is that the boat’s bow will move in the opposite direction from how you move the tiller.
  • To make pushing the tiller in either direction easier or harder, alter the tension by sliding the tension adjustment handle.
  • Purchase and add a tiller extension handle if the tiller isn’t long enough.
  • You also can steer from either side of your tiller.

Can You Convert A Tiller Motor To Steering

The most critical phase of the project is testing when you choose to switch from tiller steering on your outboard to helm steering with a steering wheel. (Read Is A Kayak Considered A Boat)

The steering system on a boat must always function correctly and without difficulty.

  1. Using a measuring tape, determine the distance from the intended wheel location to the side of the boat to the transom. The required length of the steering cable is calculated by adding 6 inches.
  2. Look in the helm kit for the blueprint for the dash layout. First, put the template in the desired location for the steering wheel installation. Then, use a china marker to trace the template’s hole perimeters onto the dash.
  3. Using a 2-1/2-inch hole saw and drill bits, typically 1/4-inch unless otherwise stated, drill the holes into the dash for the steering shaft and mounting bolt.
  4. The steering shaft should point to the stern or back of the boat as you slide the helm unit behind the dash.
  5. As you push the helm into position, the steering shaft should protrude through the dash. Use the kit’s included screws and a screwdriver to set the helm in place.
  6. Remove the screw holding the rack gear connection to the end on the helm.
  7. Through the steering cable’s end-bore, thread the screw.
  8. As you run the steering cable to the transom, install it along the side of the boat. Plastic cable ties are used to secure the cable along the way. The cable should be pointed at the motor and loosely fastened to the corner.
  9. Apply white marine grease to the cable’s end. Then, push the cable through the tilt tube of the outboard motor.
  10. The motor’s steering arm or steering link rod should be connected to the cable’s other end. Utilizing the bolt and lock nut on the steering arm or link rod. Use a torque wrench to tighten to 20-foot pounds.
  11. Place the key into its notch in the steering shaft that extends through the dash after dipping the sides of the little metal tab in petroleum jelly.
  12. Onto the steering wheel shaft, push the steering wheel. The nut should be threaded onto the shaft and tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications for torque.
  13. To check that the steering wheel turns the outboard freely, turn the wheel from side to side.

What Type Of Engine Uses A Tiller For Steering (1)

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