Taking Control

Taking Control

Story and Photos Provided by John Tiger, Jr.

Remote Trim and Jackplate Contols Provide Safety and convenience 

Checking the Options 

In most outboard setups, a trim button is mounted to the throttle and shift control handle. That puts the button in a convenient place if you aren't using a foot throttle, but it still requires you to take one hand off the wheel to operate the boat. That's probably OK for sub-50-mph boats, as the need for balance and precise control is not as critical as it is at higher speeds. As speeds rise above 50 mpg, things change. The general consensus among high-performance experts is dual-cable or high-performance hydraulic steering is a must-have, along with a foot throttle and remote trim and jackplate controls. It should be mounted on or near the steering wheel or on a floor-mounted pad that places the control buttons within easy reach of your left (non-foot throttle) foot.

Finding the Parts

Remote trim controls have been around for decades, so they're relatively easy to find and purchase. In fact, most marine dealers usually have at least one unit in stock, or can order what's needed from a local distributor. Old-school steering wheel buttons come equipped with a coiled cord that hangs from the steering wheel spoke where the buttons are mounted.  That cord runs underneath the dash where the wires connect to the engine's power trim harness. It's important to note this type of arrangement doesn't work well with hydraulic steering systems. Since these systems have no memory, the steering wheel never centers itself. That means the coiled cord can continue to wrap itself around the wheel hub as you make turns.  This eventually stretches the cord out and it can get caught between the hub and the dash bezel.

For hydraulic steering systems, the best solutions are trim controls without cords or foot-operated buttons. The Pro Trim control from Illinois-based Teleflex is one of the best solutions for those who have hydraulic steering and don't like floor mounted buttons. A Pro Trim control mounts on the steering column behind the wheel and consists of two momentary off-on switches with long actuating levers on each side of the steering column to make them easy or the driver to reach and activate. With you hands at the traditional ten-and-two positions, you can easily put the Pro Trim controls to work.

The Pro Trim switches are placed under the steering wheel on the column, which puts them within easy reach of the driver.


There's not much to installing any remote set of trim or jackplate control the buttons. There are only three wires that need to be located and connected. The best solution is to locate the engine trim harness and follow its color code. Often, the harness runs to the back of the controls; this is especially true if the control unit has a set of buttons built in. If possible, use waterproof connectors with heat-shrink tubing to make each wire connection. If you're mounting a set of buttons to the floor, be sure to secure whatever holds the buttons with through-bolts, not wood screws. If attaching buttons to the steering wheel, be sure to use throughbolts with lock nuts behind the steering wheel spoke; never use sheet metal screws. As the wires run up underneath the dash lip, secure them with a cable clamp to keep them from drooping.


For convenience's sake, you can mount a set of trim buttons to your engines lower cowling pan or in the splashwell of your boats deck (if your engine is an older model and didn't come with a set already installed; most newer outboards have this feature).  All that’s needed is a three-wire harness connected to the trim control harness, much like the button sets used in the cockpit, and a three-way momentary “on-off-on” weatherproof switch that’s installed someplace handy.  A button set installed in this manner is great for lowering and raising the engine while the boat is on the trailer and eliminates the need for walking back and forth between the cockpit and the engine. 




Comments (1)

June 14, 2016, 3:40 pm

My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I may as

well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.

Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.


Leave a comment
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.