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tiller


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A wood or metal bar which fits into or round the head of the rudder and by which the rudder is moved as required. Until the introduction of the steering wheel at the beginning of the 18th century, all ships, no matter how large, were steered by a tiller, the larger ones with the aid of a whipstaff. As ships grew in length and size it needed many more men to control the tiller when sailing, especially in strong winds, hence the need for relieving tackles. Nowadays, tillers are only used in small craft. That part of a tiller which is furthest away from the rudder head, is known as the tiller head. See also helm; steering gear.

Subjects: Maritime History.


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