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PVC steps
Photos by PJ Perea

Make a PVC tiller extension

Most small johnboats are steered with a bow (front) or transom (rear) mounted motor. For mobility-challenged or boaters who use wheelchairs, it is often safer to steer the boat from the middle seat. The boat is better balanced and less likely to tip or put the angler in a precarious situation. However, it creates a steering problem when using a gas or electric trolling motor.

One way to fix the steering issue is to make an inexpensive extension handle, like this one.
-- P. J. Perea

You'll need

  • PVC pipe (diameter will depend on tiller handle size on motor)
  • PVC pipe reducer (optional)
  • hacksaw
  • pipe clamps or thick rubber bands
  • sport grip tape
  • PVC glue

Here's how

  1. Select a diameter of PVC pipe just large enough to slip over the handle of the tiller.
  2. The length of the handle will depend on where the operator is sitting and where the boat is balanced.
  3. To save weight on the extension, add a reduction coupling and reduce the diameter of the tiller extension PVC handle.

    For safety's sake

    When using a tiller extension, one drawback is the extended reach will slightly impede the boater's ability to make sharp turns with the tiller. It will take some practice to adjust to make wider turns, but it will be safer, as the boat is less likely to tip or swamp.
    For gas engines, you may have to add an extension or buy an extended kill switch lanyard. The lanyard will stop the motor if the boater falls in the water.


  4. Slot the PVC at the tiller connection with a hacksaw on two sides for small pipe or four sides for larger diameter pipe.
  5. Install grip tape on the handle, then test extension to ensure the connections do not slip.
  6. Install the tiller extension and secure it by compressing the slots with a pipe clamp or rubber bands. Tighten clamp or add rubber bands to improve grip of extension on tiller handle.




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