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Old 12-10-2017, 08:21 PM   #1
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Can anyone troubleshoot this steering issue?

Okay, so this morning I was getting ready to leave my slip. I always test the steering and transmission before heading out. When I turned the steering wheel a the LH (lower helm), the rudders didn't move. I noticed that the steering wheel felt a little loose too. In other words, it didn't have the same resistance it usually has.

I then went to the UH (upper helm) and turned the wheel there, and the rudder indicator moved and the wheel had the same resistance it usually has.

So I went back down to the LH, and suddenly the wheel was working. However, it still didn't feel like it normally did. Still felt loose.

When I got out of my slip and headed out, at times the LH wheel would not move the rudders, and at other times it would. Definitely not right.

I have a small leak in my autopilot pump, which is getting replaced under warranty this week. But the leak is so small that it's hard to imagine enough steering fluid leaking to have such an effect. After a few weeks away from the boat there are only a few drops of fluid that leaked out. Also, I would think if it was the fluid that was the issue, the UH wouldn't work well either.

Any thoughts? It's going to be at the boatyard this week so going to have them take a look, but wondering if anyone has any ideas here.

Thanks!
Mike
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Old 12-10-2017, 08:37 PM   #2
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Sounds like you may have air in the system. Add fluid, then start at the UH and run the wheel back and forth (Lock to Lock) 30 times. Then do the same on the lower. Inspect for leaks, repair and do the above again.
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Old 12-11-2017, 06:06 PM   #3
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What ASD said. Also, if you have an air loaded accumulator (not sure of nomenclature) may not have pressure and requires pumping up to spec.
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Old 12-11-2017, 06:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
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What ASD said. Also, if you have an air loaded accumulator (not sure of nomenclature) may not have pressure and requires pumping up to spec.
In aviation, we called that an accumulator's precharge.
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Old 12-11-2017, 06:57 PM   #5
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A couple times a year I need to pressurize my steering system. There is no hydraulic fluid leak but likely an air leak in the accumulator. There is a fitting on the top to use a hand pump to keep the pressure at about 20 psi. Oddly, before I knew about this the steering operated just fine with Zero pressure. Since there was plenty of fluid and no air in the lines the wheels turned the helm just fine since they are just pumps anyway.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:11 PM   #6
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I agree that you likely have air in the system. If you are lucky and you add some makeup oil quickly it may purge quickly. If the air has been forced into the lines then sometimes after a topping up a short run which entails some pitching and rolling will help work air out as it will rise to the highest point exiting the pump. Just depends upon how much air got in.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:29 PM   #7
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A couple times a year I need to pressurize my steering system. There is no hydraulic fluid leak but likely an air leak in the accumulator. There is a fitting on the top to use a hand pump to keep the pressure at about 20 psi. Oddly, before I knew about this the steering operated just fine with Zero pressure. Since there was plenty of fluid and no air in the lines the wheels turned the helm just fine since they are just pumps anyway.
Ha! When I bought our boat and was cleaning out the engine room I found a bike pump and threw it away! I have since bought a new one......
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:35 PM   #8
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My upper helm doescthe same with no change to the lower.

No pressure is lost in the pressure tank and no fluid leaks I can find.

I can spin the upper helm maybe 20 times in each direction and each alternating spin gets fewer and fewer turns till I get to the normal 5.5 lock to lock.

It will stay thatvway for days or weeks, then I notice the AP working more than usual and I go up and spin till tight.

Not sure what is going on, have live with it over the last 3 years and nearly 10,000 miles so...... been pkanning a copper tubing upgrade...mabe that will force me ti figure it out.....

Other than that, if air is getting in, it seems stange it isnt replacing fluid or causing a pressure change.....and uf so, either or both issues are virtually undetectable.
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:19 PM   #9
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Psneeld, if your system is a Hynautic, the air purging takes more rotations to move the air to the tank, you may just be temporarily relocating it.

Ted
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