A tiller or till is a lever attached to a rudder post (American terminology) or rudder stock (English terminology) of a boat in order to provide the leverage for the helmsman to turn the rudder. The tiller is normally used by the helmsman directly pulling or pushing it, but it may also be moved remotely using tiller lines.

Rapid or excessive movement of the tiller results in an increase in drag and will result in braking or slowing the boat. In steering a boat, the tiller is always moved in the direction opposite of which the bow of the boat is to move. If the tiller is moved to port side (left), the bow will turn to starboard (right). If the tiller is moved to starboard (right), the bow will turn port (left). Sailing students often learn the alliterative phrase "Tiller Towards Trouble" to remind them of how to steer.

As the size of boat increases the power needed to control the rudder via a tiller becomes excessive. In the 21st century, tiller steering tends not to be used on new boats with an overall length in excess of approximately 10 metres, except on narrowboats on English canals where boats up to 22 metres long and steered by a tiller are being built.

In modern boats emergency tillers are often carried in case the steering wheel on a vessel fails to operate.

Tiller Orders

Until the current international standards were applied in the 1930s, it was common for steering orders on ships to be given as 'Tiller Orders', i.e.- the order given dictated which side of the vessel the tiller was to be moved. Since the tiller's movement is reversed at the rudder, orders were seemingly given 'the wrong way round'. For example, to turn a ship to port (its left side), the helmsman would be given the order 'starboard helm' or ' X degrees starboard'. The ship's tiller was then put over to the side ordered, turning the rudder to the vessel's port side, producing a turn to port.

When large steamships appeared in the late 19th century with telemotors hydraulically connecting the wheel on the bridge to the steering gear at the stern, the practise continued. However the helmsman was now no longer directly controlling the tiller, and the ship's wheel was simply turned in the desired direction (turn the wheel to port and the ship will go to port). Tiller Orders remained however.

A well-known and often-depicted example occurred on the RMS Titanic in 1912 when she collided with an iceberg. The iceberg appeared directly in front of the Titanic. Her officer-of-the-watch, First Officer William Murdoch, decided to attempt to clear the berg by swinging the ship to its port side. He ordered 'Hard-a-Starboard', which was a Tiller Order. The helmsman turned the wheel to port as far as it would go. The Titanic's steering gear pushed the tiller over to the starboard side of the ship, causing the rudder to swing over to port, causing the vessel to turn port. These actions are faithfully portrayed in the 1997 film of the disaster- although frequently described as an error, it is correct.

Although this system seems confusing and contradictory today, to generations of sailors trained on sailing vessels with tiller steering it seemed perfectly logical and was instinctively understood by all seafarers. Only when new generations of sailors trained on ships with wheel-and-tiller steering came into the industry was the system replaced.

Tillers on other Vehicles

The first automobiles were steered with a tiller, but Packard introduced the steering wheel on the second car they built, in 1899. Within a decade, the steering wheel had entirely replaced the tiller in automobiles.

Arthur Constantin Krebs replaced the tiller with an inclined steering wheel for [http://rbmn02.waika9.com/Album_Course_07.html the Panhard & Levassor car he designed for the Paris-Amsterdam race] which ran from the 7th to 13th of July 1898.

Tractor-drawn ladder trucks utilize a tiller (rear steering axle) driver to control the trailer where the aerial ladder is located.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tiller — Till er, n. [From OE. tillen, tullen, to draw, pull; probably fr. AS. tyllan in fortyllan to lead astray; or cf. D. tillen to lift up. Cf. {Till} a drawer.] 1. (Naut.) A lever of wood or metal fitted to the rudder head and used for turning side… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tiller — ist der durch die verschieden starken Wurfarme erkennbare Unterschied des Normalabstands der Bogensehne zum oberen bzw. unteren Wurfarm, an der Stelle gemessen, an der der Wurfarm in die Wurfarmaufnehmer (Wurfarmtaschen) des Mittelstücks eines… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • tiller — ou teiller 1. (ti llé, ll mouillées, et non ti yé ou tè llé) v. a. 1°   Détacher avec la main le filament du chanvre, en brisant la chènevotte. •   On veille une heure ou deux en teillant du chanvre, J. J. ROUSS. Hél. v, 7.    Se dit aussi du lin …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • tiller — Ⅰ. tiller ► NOUN ▪ a horizontal bar fitted to the head of a boat s rudder post and used for steering. ORIGIN Old French telier weaver s beam, stock of a crossbow , from Latin tela web . Ⅱ. till [2] ► NOUN ▪ a cash register or drawer for money in… …   English terms dictionary

  • Tiller — Till er, n. [From {Till}, v. t.] One who tills; a husbandman; a cultivator; a plowman. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tiller — Till er, n. [AS. telgor a small branch. Cf. {Till} to cultivate.] 1. (Bot.) (a) A shoot of a plant, springing from the root or bottom of the original stalk; a sucker. (b) A sprout or young tree that springs from a root or stump. [1913 Webster] 2 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tiller — Till er, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Tillered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Tillering}.] To put forth new shoots from the root, or round the bottom of the original stalk; as, wheat or rye tillers; some spread plants by tillering. [Sometimes written {tillow}.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tiller — (n.) mid 14c., stock of a crossbow, from O.Fr. telier stock of a crossbow (c.1200), originally weaver s beam, from M.L. telarium, from L. tela web, loom, from PIE *teks la , from root *teks to weave (see TEXTURE (Cf. texture)). Meaning bar to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • tiller — Tiller, comme quand on tille du chanvre, semble qu il vienne de {{t=g}}tillô,{{/t}} id est euello. Est enim vellere cannabim a sua festuca, Ou il vient de Tilia, quasi diceres Tiliare, Oster la tille …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • tiller — tiller1 [til′ər] n. [ME tiler, stock of a crossbow < OFr telier, weaver s beam < ML telarium < L tela, web (see TOIL2): naut. sense prob. infl. by ME tillen, to reach] a bar or handle for turning a boat s rudder tiller2 [til′ər] n. a… …   English World dictionary

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.