Crews Letter #2005 04   “World Class” is Easy to Say

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 It is Seldom Easy to Do.


Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen:


The Toshiba laptop has had the same video problem again.  See 2005 #02 for details.  There are some lingering doubts about the Toshiba Product Line A75.  Two hardware failures in four months and no 12v power supply is not what you would expect in a laptop.  Maybe not quite “World Class”.

In the last two weeks, we have again seen “World Class” in action.  Toshiba, Ideal Electronics of Athens and ACS(Greek Courier Service) performed well above reasonable expectations.


On a different front, Whitlock Steering and their parent company Lewmar, both British, have demonstrated the dismal side of the yachting industry.

In early May we discovered some oil under one of the steering columns.  Like oil on the garage floor,  it had to come from somewhere. 

The local technician said he had never seen anything like it and agreed that asking Whitlock was appropriate.   We emailed Nautilus, the Lewmar Distributor for Greece and Elan, the boat builder, in the hopes that we could get an explanation.


The man at Nautilus was quick to reply.  He asked first off what model and part was leaking.  The components are devoid of model or part number.  The only identifying mark is the Whitlock logo on the wheel hub.  The model and part was identified by reading and looking at pictures in a German language catalog.


What’s a language impaired boy from Texas doing reading a German catalog in a Greek chandlery to spec out a British product bought from a Slovenian boatbuilder?


Once identified, it is the reduction gear of the Whitlock Cobra, Nautilus suggested that we send it to Athens for their Lewmar Certified Technician to look over.  They replaced the bearings and seals and sent it back.  When bolted in place, it did not leak.  It did not do anything.  Especially, it did not turn.  We  sent it back to Athens


About that time, the Lewmar representative to Elan sent a reply to the original request:

From: Bas Peute []
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2005 11:10 AM
To: 'Luka Kepec'
Subject: RE: Whitlock Steering


Dear All,


The bevelboxes are filled with grease. It is possible that on some occasions the 'liquid part' of the grease sweats through the bevelbox covers.

This is nothing to worry about as there will remain enough grease in the bevelbox and it is only the 'liquid part' of the grease that sweats trough. Normally spoken this sweating stops after a while, if not than tension the scews a bit tighter to get more pressure on the cover.


In case this does not help please let us know.


Best regards,


Lewmar North Europe


Bas Peute


To which Fred replied:

From: Phyl & Fred []
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 11:16 AM
To: Luka Kepec
Subject: RE: FW: Whitlock Steering


Hello Luka and Bas


Thank you for this reply.  In the last two weeks, the reduction gear box was sent to the Lewmar Distributor, Nautilus, in Athens.  There, they replaced three of the bearings and two of the seals.  They did not replace the lower bearing and seal because it is welded into the assembly.  The box came back from Athens last Friday.  When installed, it does not turn at all.  It is now on its way back to Athens where hopefully they can make it right.


The absence of any documentation with this product is disappointing.  None came with it.  None is on the Internet.  We are watching a lot of boats sail in and out of this marina while we wait for a Whitlock Steering System that works. 


The fact that the main bearing, gear and shaft that deals directly with the rudder quadrant, IE most of the force in the system, is welded in appears to be a design fault.




Fred must have been a bit too terse.  There has been no information from the Netherlands nor Slovenia since.  He did not mention that grease is mulsified oil.


Nautilus in Athens sent the reduction gear to England.


At Lewmar Steering Division in Luton, they sat on it, hoping it would hatch.  They are still sitting on it.



Maybe a sketch and some pictures would help you visualize the system:

























Meanwhile, on a weekly basis:  Fred calls Nautilus.   Nautilus calls Lewmar.   Lewmar replies, “Later.”


The current status is summed in a recent email from England.  Perception’s port reduction gear is WRG10:

From: Nautilus Info []
Sent: Tuesday, 26 July, 2005 09:06
To: Phyl & Fred
Subject: RE: Email Connect


We are moving the factory to new premises at this time so I have not been able to locate the WRG10 as it is probably packed and on it's way to the new site.

We will re-open the factory on the 8th August and I have asked Chris Marks to locate this when we are back.

Kind regards

Graham A Smith

Product Manager Lewmar Steering Division

Little wonder the Chinese are buying up the last British car maker.


Steady, as she goes,

Phyl & Fred


PS:  The good news is, Perception has four steering systems: 1)port and 2)starboard wheels, 3)Autohelm and the 4)emergency tiller.  They are independent to the quadrant on the rudder stock.  Three out of four still work.  We are still cruising.


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