J36 Tiller Conversion?

Does anyone see a reason why the Edison pedestal and wheel couldn't be removed from a J36 and a tiller be connected to the rudder post? The space behind the traveler seems adequate for a tiller long enough to produce the requisite mechanical advantage. Were some versions of the J36 produced with a tiller? Steering with a wheel feels... imprecise. I even have a J30 tiller on hand. This seems like a brilliant idea, change my mind?
Right?! I will measure today but I believe that to be true. There is even an access through the deck to the rudder post and an "emergency" tiller fitting. Given the substantial similarities between J35 and J36 and the success the 35 has had with a tiller configuration, I cant be the first to have considered this.


Super Anarchist
We sailed a J/36 for 24 years with a wheel. Never saw one with a tiller. IMHO the traveler will definitely block a tiller long enough to be of any use. The emergency tiller has to be short enough to miss the wheel, so is quite short. Using it (for real, when clamps on the steering cables slipped) in fairly benign conditions on an 8 knot genoa reach required at least two people or tying it off to the spinnaker winches to control it. Extending a tiller to the traveler would add about a foot or so. That would not seem to be enough for adequate control or good feel. The rudder is pretty big. Using a tiller will also move the helmsperson forward so they can have the leverage they need to steer. Unless you move the winches, that will put the helmsperson right where the genoa and spinnaker trimmers need to be, stepping on each other's feet and blocking their moves. It might also make it more difficult for the helmsperson to adjust the traveler or mainsheet. To experiment before making an expensive mistake you could perhaps try using a pipe that was attached to the emergency rudder head and bent in a big "U" to go over the binnacle and then led further forward as far as was needed to obtain the necessary leverage. You might find that the length of the tiller kept you from being able to throw it over as far as the wheel and quadrant could go. (It would perhaps have to be lifted to avoid winches or stanchions.) This means less maneuverability, not more. You may also need to build foot braces for the helmsperson using a tiller because the cockpit seats and binnacle aren't there to brace against. With the binnacle gone you will also need compasses port and starboard for tracking shifts. Is there room on the aft cabin trunk for them? Moving the traveler forward to enable a longer tiller would also cause problems with sheet trimming activities. All in all, it might not be a good idea.
P.S: we passed every J/35 we raced against.


New member
J35 traveller is about 12 inches more forward than a J36 so you would have to move the J36 traveller to accommodate the beefy tiller that J35s have plus have a new fitting built for the tiller head, more hassle that anything? I love the wheel on my J36 and find it quite responsive. We also have an emergency tiller built stoutly out of aluminum which passes just aft of the wheel and works OK but takes two hands in any breeze to use.