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Tillers and Extensions

Tillers and Extensions are an important part of the boat.  Having the right type and size extension could make the difference between being able to reach a control without letting go of the extension and dumping.

Extension Installation

Presuming the little rubber insert fits easily into the shaft.....

Stick it into the shaft. Go to the hardware store and buy a couple of (3/32" or 1/8" or so) stainless screws with locking nuts and small washers that will go through the shaft widthwise. Drill two 1/8" (or so) holes through the shaft and rubber insert, at 90 degree angles from each other, about 3/4 inch apart. Assemble and put a dab of loctite ( or super glue) on the locking nuts to ensure they don't come off, no how, no way. Hacksaw off and file any extra screw that may stick out so it doesn't catch and tear things.


If the rubber insert does not fit easily into the shaft to begin with, try putting it in the refrigerator for an hour so it contracts. Dip the end of the shaft in hot water so it expands. Apply some soap to the rubber connector and twist it in.

By Jim Richmond

Carbon Fiber for $8

For a cheap, good tiller extension, we got a carbon fiber shaft for a broken golf club from a golf shop. They are very light and strong, and easy to cut to any length you like. We put three rubber (?) golf club grips on the shaft for good handholds in different positions. (They say "Ping" on them - impresses all the golfers you race against.) All this cost about $8. Use the black rubber universal that you get from Laser to attach it to the tiller. They're the best tiller extensions for under $200 I've seen. (we have one of the expensive carbon fiber tillers and Fatso extensions, too, but I like the cheap homemade one just as well.) 

Make it as long as you can handle. It's a bit awkward tacking and gibing at first, but you can get used to it, and the extra length is very nice to have in light air when you want to sit far forward. I don't know what we used to make our tillers. Good Luck! 


Lainie Pardey

Golf Club Shaft

Broken golf club shafts! They're thin and light and strong, and they usually break right down by the club head, unless the golfer broke it in a fit by smashing it down on something . . . I hear that happens in that uncivilized sport. 

They usually can be obtained at a pro shop for a couple of dollars. We also bought 3 nice rubber grips (also quite cheap) which my husband installed on the shaft, one on top of the other, for 3 very comfortable, elegant stops. Our extension now says "Ping, Ping, Ping" on it. 


Question: why don't you just use the wood tiller? Why bother covering it with carbon fiber? Paint it black for psyche value? They don't have to be that strong, except at the area where the traveler line crosses. We have a stainless steel protector glued on our tillers there. Those old wooden tillers that came with the original boats actually lasted pretty well, although I've seen a few with a fairly deep groove from the traveler line across them. They were too "tall" for the traveler tension we use now. 


Complete Review

by Neil Berman

Carlos wrote... 
> Does anyone know which are the best tillers and extensions available? 
> I really appreciate any answers. 

Since the tiller and extension product review section of the LaserFAQ is not yet ready for prime time (my day-job really wastes a lot of time and my new PowerMac G3 hard drive has turtled and I cannot revive it), I cannot point you to a carbon fibre by fibre info source. 

HOWEVER, I can say that you will be extremely pleased by the performance of any of the 4 items I have been fortunate to review so far. In short.... 

1. ACME Black Diamond. The lowest of the low profile tillers (can't imagine anyone has a lower profile product!). This carbon fibre baby is light and thoughtfully executed. In cross-section it is rectangular - to the point of being almost flat (though hollow). A cam cleat near the rudder head keeps the rudder downhaul out the way and easily uncleated in an emergency. Metal skid plate reduces friction on the traveller. A glance at any Laser Sailor cover montage and you will see many rudders happilly connected to one of these. The review sample was donated by ACME as a Spring regatta prize and I have yet to wipe the smile of the winners face. 

2. Marstrom Tiller. (Sail Center of Sweden). Another low profile carbon fibre tiller, this time with an oval cross section. No cam cleat, but has a button on the side to assist in fastening the rudder downhaul. Metal skid plate for friction and wear reduction. Also extremely light. This one is not as commonly found this side of the Atlantic, but is definitely worth a look. 

Both tillers made an IMMENSE difference in feel under all wind conditions and points of sail, with the most difference felt on the run under light to moderate conditions. This is in comparison to the most common standard wood Laser tiller (not the new "racing" ones). They are not cheap, but they sure are fun to sail with. 

1. Ronstan Battlestik: Very light tapered carbon fibre with soft grip foam handle cover. Has a nice flexible give to it which I have appreciated when I have sat on it (inadvertantly!). Liked this one a lot. Changing the length will require removing and reinstalling the grip (haven't tried this). Ronstan will custom fit one to your choice length when ordering. I have heard that there is an extensionable Ronstan extension on the market. This is a great idea (similar to telescopic backcountry ski poles - the downhill pole is best set longer than the uphill pole for traversing), in Lasers I would want a shorter stick for moderate wind conditions and the longest for drifters where you are hugging the mast, or when it is blowing like stink and you have hiked out with one toe under the strap). 

2. Sail Center of Sweden's tiller extension. Supplied as an option with the Marstrom tiller, it is a simple carbon fibre cylinder with a woven textured covering (the carbon fibre itself). While the surface gives more than adequate grip, I would add a golf grip (get one from your nearest golf pro shop) as I was spoiled by the feel and larger diameter of the Ronstan grip. Also very light. The uniform contruction means you can easily shorten this yourself to suit your sailing style. Both extensions are about 42inches - that means they usually reach the stopper on your centreboard. 

Other extensions I have heard praises sung about are ACME's Fatso and Fatso Jnr. Other tillers: Vanguard now sells a "racing" tiller. Not carbon fiber (right?) but new boat owners have said it is a huge improvement. 

Bruce Sutphen's "Duckbill" tiller: Promised, but not yet received to test out, this one has also been favourably mentioned in despatches. 

So, check out the websites for these items, and also the sites of some of the dealers with an online presence, for other brands. For top of the line carbon fibre you are looking at over US$200 for tiller + ext. Carbon fibre is a difficult material to work with and these are specialty items. Its <place spiritual gift-giving holiday here> soon, anyway. Leave catalogues with favourite items circled lying in strategic places around the house/flat/adobe/apartment/tent/shack/trailerhome. Go to the LaserFAQ mailorder section for websites of the above companies, dealers and other sources. Don't forget to first try your local dealer - they will save you the import hassles, will assist with warranty issues and may even be able to supply your chosen weapon at a lower price. (Don't be afraid to negotiate). Plus, if they are good Laser Class citizens, they are out there at your regattas promoting the class and sailing. Our local chandlery ("The Chandlery", Nepean, ON) claims to be able to match any advertised price when duties and taxes are included (I have never challenged them on this!), and they sponsor door prizes etc at our regattas. 

If you have a favourite tiller/extension, please email me directly. ( 




To:, Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: Tillers
From: Neil Berman <>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 20:45:30 -0700

The Laser Email Archives


It depends on what performance level you want to achieve. Many high performance sailors want something long perhaps 48" and lightweight such as the Acme carbon fiber extension or a fiberglass extension. I have found that the standard 42" extension is pretty good. they all have the rubber omniflex connection. If the extension gets away from you on tacks and jibes. I suggest our composite universal joint with Aluminum extension. These connectors have a good feel they do not have play in them. I have used one for years. It has never "locked up" on me. the old stainless steel connectors would occasionally "lock up". The composite connectors we have don't lock up. Prices typically range from $40's to $70+ Hope this is helpful. Keep in touch. email 


Subject: Tiller Extensions
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 1997 23:54:17 -0400

The Laser Email Archives

Golf Shaft Extensions

by Mark Andrew

I to have a great carbon fiber tiller. Actually I have two, one for the laser and one on my Thistle. A good friend of mine works at a golf club manufacturing company near here (Granville Ohio). Actually there are several manufacturers here. I drilled out a Ronstan universal, inserted the shaft with epoxy and just for an extra but of confidence drilled and bolted it laterally with a small stainles bolt. The laser stick has several years on it and it seems to be holding up ok. The thistle stick is newer. I cannot imagine breaking them unless you fall on them or get mad and swat them down hard on the rail or deck. Time will tell and they are cheap. The best grip I have is a fat putter grip with a flat side on it. The flat side is up.


Subject: tillers
From: Mark Andrew <>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 23:14:10 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Cheap Tillers

by Paul Nix

You asked about home-made tillers - here's my contribution :- 

My current tiller is made from television ariel support tubing. It's not anodised so may not last too long - but its very cheap, 3 UKpounds for enough tubing to make 2 tillers. 

Paul Nix.


To: <>
Subject: Cheap Tillers
From: paul nix <106331.1335@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 20 Mar 97 16:49:22 EST

The Laser Email Archives

Aluminum Tiller

by Carl Muehlenbeck

On Fri, 22 Mar 1996 wrote: 
> Last season, someone posted advice on how to build a tiller out of a 1 inch 
> square section of stock aluminum. 

> As a non-racer on a budget, I would like to get a look at this idea again. 
> Could someone please e-mail the posting? 

> Thanks much, 
> Patrick 

I think that was me who posted that. I don't have the actual posting, but I can tell you what I did. I purchased 1" Al square tubing. I believe it was 6' long and < $10 from Menards (Local builders store). You have to make sure it is Al tubing and not Al pipe. Tubing has thin walls. Cut it to the proper length. Plug the ends with wood or plastic. I used UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) plastic. Screw your tiller extension on. I used stainless wood screws and screwed it in to the end plug. Install the rudder rope cleat. Drill a hole for the cotter pin in the rudder head. I added a UHMW wedge between the tiller and the top pintle on the rudder to keep the tiller off the deck, wood would work. 

I had to sand a little on the rudder end of the tiller so it would fit into the rudder head. 

What you end up with is an ultra-light tilller with 0 play dirt cheap. It really helped me gain a better feel for the boat and it helped me to steer with my weight rather than the rudder. You might invest in a fancy tiller extention. The standard tiller extension is worthless for racing. 

--Carl M 


Subject: Re: Aluminum Tiller
From: Carl Muehlenbeck <>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 18:47:15 -0600 (CST)

The Laser Email Archives

G2 Tiller and Extension

by Chris Herman

In a message dated 97-10-10 22:45:04 EDT, writes: 
<< Hi every one, I was just wondering what a good non carbon-fiber tiller choice would be?? >>

My choice would be the G2 Tiller and extension combination.The tiller is lightweight T-6 Aircraft aluminum. It weights only 19 ozs with the extension, 12 oz. without it. It has a stainless steel wear plate, and a flex connector. It is available for about $90.00 as the combo. 

Chris Herman 
Sailing Solutions Inc. 
Huntington Beach, CA


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: tillers
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 11:35:08 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Carbon Plated Tiller

by Malcolm Osborne

In view of the extremely high cost of importing a commercial brand of carbon fibre tiller, I've been contemplating having a bash at making one myself. 

My plan is to use a thin, rectangular piece of wood of the required tiller length as a former, then to plait layers of carbon fibre ribbon over it, coating it with epoxy resin along the way. The rudder end would be epoxied into a plastic rudder stock fitting. The finished product may not look as neat as a professional one, but as long as it works it should be worth it. 

Is this practicable? Has anyone tried such a thing? 

Malcolm Osborne (L160100) 
Pretoria, South Africa


Subject: Home made carbonfibre tiller ?
From: Malcolm Osborne <>
Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 09:26:53 +0200

The Laser Email Archives

Swivel Connectors

by Malcolm Osborne

The main advantage of a c/f tiller is that it can be much thinner (with the same or more strength) than other types, so you can have a taut traveller without losing steering sensitivity due to friction between the tiller and traveller. A wood tiller, while having the advantage of being cheaper, is, as you say, too tall. We've also realised the possibility of c/f golf sticks as tiller extensions. I have one, but haven't got it fitted yet. The tricky part is to attach it reliably to the swivel. The best swivels are the rubber type (e.g. Ronstan). A way I've seen is to epoxy a short piece of tube over the swivel and the (thin) end of the golf stick. 

Malcolm Osborne (L160100) 
Pretoria, South Africa 


Subject: Re: Home made carbonfibre tiller ? -Reply
From: Malcolm Osborne <>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 09:22:04 +0200

The Laser Email Archives

Traveler Block Slide

by Shevy Gunter

Jeff Martin wrote "Who needs <little blocks> in the cunnigham and outhaul?" NOBODY... 

Rob Macdonald asked: "How do you move the tiller with the traveller reefed on as hard as possible? My boat has a wooden tiller with a deep groove worn in it." 

(In the following, I presume you do not want to spend the money on a carbon or aluminum tiller.) The wood tiller and the groove are the source of your problem! Shave off the aft end of the wood tiller to ensure the tiller will lie as low as possible without touching the traveler cleat. Put your rudder on. Lay the tiller resting on the cleat + a 1/2" block, and trace the shape of the tiller butt housing onto the tiller to guide yourself. If your standard wood tiller is extending into the cockpit any more than one inch, shorten the tiller stock from its AFT end and then shave the aft end. Don't forget to drill a new hole for the tiller retainer pin. 

>"Even if the traveller is only marginally tight, the blocks hang up on the tiller." 

Right. First, cover the area where the goove is with an 8" mylar tube or a piece of hard plastic (like a cut-off from a plastic milk jar.) There are also special metal chafe preventers you can get for this purpose. This will reduce friction. 

>"Or does this only work when on the wind, and the traveller has to be loosened when off the wind? What about when tacking? Do the blocks clear the tiller, when the traveller is as tight as described?" 

Keep it drum tight when it is really blowing. The strong wind will make the traveler blocks clear the tiller when tacking and gybing. With winds at less than 8 knots, you may need to loosen the traveler just a tiny bit. In drifting conditions, for instance, just do your standard roll tack and see if it gets hung. If it does, loosen the traveler one inch (at the cleat) and try again. 

-- Shevy Gunter 
Philadelphia, PA USA


Subject: Re: Little blocks and thimbles + Traveler block slide
From: Shevy Gunter <>
Date: Thu, 03 Apr 1997 14:29:45 -0500

The Laser Email Archives

Tiller Cleat

by Mark Michaelsen

In a message dated 97-07-09 21:44:06 EDT, you write: <<
>>> < > Wednesday, 9 July 1997 17:45 >>> I have a problem with my new boat's tiller. The cleat on the side of the tiller that holds down the rudder, gets caught on the traveler when I move the tiller. The cleat is 13 inches from the front where the tiller extension connects and 26 inches from the back where the rudder connects. One member at my club suggested that I cut off the one on the tiller and rivit a new one on. Is there an easier method? >> 

I would drill out the two small rivets and remove the cleat. The get a racing junior MK1 aluminum cleat and mount it wit two aluminum 3/16 #6 rivets six inches from the tiller wedge intersection or junction at the rudder head. This will reduce the overall length of line used and will reduce the potential for stretch. 

Mark Michaelsen 

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Oversized on Purpose

by Nelson Reynolds

Though I do seem to remember when I got my Black Diamond reading an insert that said the tiller fitting was purposely made oversize to insure a tight fit and that some sanding would be necessary to get it to go in without bending the rudderhead. If I remember correctly, it took all of 15 minutes to get it to fit. 


Nelson Reynolds 

>Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 1997 3:19 PM 
>To: Multiple recipients of list 
>Subject: Re: acme black diamond tiller 

>I put a little grease on the tiller head and heated the rudder head with a 
>torch and stuck it in there. I don't think the torch is quite necessary. But 
>now it comes in and out quite well. You could also freeze the tiller before 
>inserting. The ACME tiller is the best on the market. 

>Ian Lineberger 


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: RE: acme black diamond tiller
From: Nelson Reynolds <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 18:02:15 -0500

Laser Email Archives

Just a Little Grease

by Ian Lineberger

I put a little grease on the tiller head and heated the rudder head with a torch and stuck it in there. I don't think the torch is quite necessary. But now it comes in and out quite well. You could also freeze the tiller before inserting. The ACME tiller is the best on the market. 

Ian Lineberger


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: acme black diamond tiller
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 14:26:03 -0500

Laser Email Archives

Don't Use a Hammer

by Scott Fox

In a message dated 97-07-28 19:22:00 EDT, you write: 
<< i just purchased an acme black diamond tiller and it's a touch too big for the rudder head. how have you dealt with this problem? did you shave down the inside fitting with a file? did you just find a way to wham it into the head with a hammer? >>

I just "installed" one for a customer by sanding down the head and using a little "Super Lube" on it..whatever you do don't use hammer! Scott Fox The Boathouse


To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: acme black diamond tiller
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 21:00:57 -0500

Laser Email Archives

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