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Old 07-21-2017, 01:56 AM   #1
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Nitwit and Steering

Some moron, who shall remain unnamed for the moment, while choosing a place to mount my new solar controller, drove a screw into one of my copper steering lines. Now there is a steady drip drip drip and I fully expect the line to be empty when i go to the boat tomorrow. Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh!!!

Is everybody still using copper lines for steering systems? What is the modern material of choice? I would love to get rid of the last of the copper on my boat. I would need to keep the pump and the ram, as well as the autopilot pump. Hydralic hoses? Nylon (like truck brake lines)? What is the modern material of choice?

I'm planning to repair the copper until the fall, I hope, when boating season is done. We'll see.
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Old 07-21-2017, 02:30 AM   #2
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That moron will probably be more careful in the future!
I like the hard nylon lines, though there are sure to be dissenters in the group.
Corrosion issues with the copper were a constant worry, with the lines being hidden for a good deal of the run.
It is said that the nylon lines are not rated for enough pressure, but I have used them on all my installations for the last 20 yrs or so with no failures.
My current boat came with SS tubing, can't complain about that!
This might be a good opportunity for an upgrade in the size of the lines, manufacturers often don't install adequate diameter of tubing. I have found that this is yet another situation where bigger is better. Smooths out the feel and reduces the effort at the helm, and contrary to popular opinion on the dock, does not require more turns of the helm to move the rudder.
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Old 07-21-2017, 05:25 AM   #3
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Ha! Been there, done that!

I was mounting a sat dish on my pilothouse roof. First pic shows how near-centered I managed to put a hole into a copper steering line. It was impossible to access from below, so I excavated enough of the roof to get enough room for a flaring tool. In the process I nicked the pipe again with the hole saw. But, all ended well. Five years later, no issues at all.

Nothing wrong with copper!

I covered the excavation with a piece of starboard, screwed down and bedded with 5200. It was covered by the sat dish anyway. Last year I relocated the satdish, so now it is hidden by a solar panel. No-one, well almost no-one, knows about this! So I would appreciate you not telling!
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:46 AM   #4
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I ran nylon tubing successfully for many years. However, you need to worry about maximum system pressure which is the relief pressure valve rating. If something big tries to turn the rudder (log) then you want pressure relief but not by a blown hose.
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Old 07-21-2017, 07:50 AM   #5
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Been there, done that, with copper heat piping. Especially annoying because I'd installed the copper piping myself, built the kitchen cabinet that surrounded it on three sides and was installing the next piece of cabinet that would conceal it. The pipe was oh, so carefully placed that the last bit of enclosure was 1/8" thick. Sheesh!

Replacing, or cutting out and splicing in a short length was 'way too much work to contemplate. I drained that portion of the heating system, cleaned the exterior of the pipe, cut a coupling longitudinally so that it would 'snap' over the pipe, cleaned it, and soldered it on.

I have, by the way, spliced the metric copper water tubing on this boat by sleeving US 1/2" water tubing over the metric and soldering.
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Old 07-21-2017, 08:39 AM   #6
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These folks:

Boat Steering Solutions Home

can supply you with custom steering hoses. I believe hoses are what is in common use today. My boat has them and I've bone business with this company.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:40 AM   #7
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I use orange industrial hydraulic lines (flexable tubes (hose)) that one usually finds on back hoes and other similar equipment. Considerably larger dia than the little black ones usually found on boats. Could have been one of by experimenting mistakes but this hose has been in service over 10 years .. and I've been lucky enough not to drill holes in them. Maybe orange is a lucky color.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:48 AM   #8
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If you don't mind the cost, use copper nickel. Easy to work with, stronger and more corrosion resistant. Soft enough you don't need a bender. Expensive.
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Old 07-21-2017, 10:02 AM   #9
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I like Cu for static runs. If you run hose, I think you get a little more flex under pressure, as in raise the pressure and diameter increases ever so slightly. Over a long run it may add up. I have not verified this using charts or calcs, just a thought that came up.

I did my whole boat with Cu and flare fittings. I never had done flares in my life. Did scores of them to build the system. Pressurized and pressure tested, not a single leak!!
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Old 07-21-2017, 10:46 AM   #10
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I would use a compression union. No space for a flare tool required, simple job. The replumbing can wait until later.
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Old 07-21-2017, 10:54 AM   #11
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That's great input and I'm gratified to learn that there are lots more of us who obviously have too much time on their hands! Just when I was finishing up the solar install and planning to go out tomorrow, the truck is loaded and the dog is being babysat and the housesitter arrives today... I am off to the store to get my repair parts and another gallon of fluid. Oh joy
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Old 07-21-2017, 11:22 AM   #12
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Temporary fix? Rescue tape, FlexSeal or JB Weld if the hole is accessible.
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Old 07-21-2017, 11:31 AM   #13
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Greetings,
Mr. X. "...and another gallon of fluid..." THAT'S the spirit(s) See what I did there?

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Old 07-21-2017, 11:39 AM   #14
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Yo ho ho etc? Tonight, if I have a successful repair, a reward.

How about Sharkbite (not the rum)? I wonder how long one would last before the atf eats the seals?
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:08 PM   #15
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You want a mechanical fix like flare or compression fittings and a section of tube to splice in. It is dripping now but pressure is only what is in the your accumulator tank, like 20psi. When hard over, pressure goes up to 1000psi which is where the relief valves lift. Depending on system, of course, but on all the pressure goes WAY up when working the steering.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:20 PM   #16
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Years ago, I had a couple friends who were plumbers. Apparently, it's not uncommon for a carpenter or drywall installer to drive a nail or screw through waterlines while building a house. Apparently, it's also not uncommon for them to make "repairs" themselves by driving a sheet metal screw into the hole rather than calling the plumber back to make a proper repair.


The problem is, the sheet metal screw doesn't last as long as the copper pipe and five or ten years down the road the homeowner has a leak and has to call the plumber.
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Old 07-21-2017, 01:31 PM   #17
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Yes, indeed drywallers can be bad. We have been living here for 4 years. The house had a major water leak and subsequent repairs before we bought it. Found a leak in a drain stack. Servpro came out yesterday and removed the mold. The drywallers shot not 1 but 2 screws into it when they hung the drywall. The pipe removal would require major destruction to replace it. I called West epoxy and they said no problem with using their epoxy to repair it. An hour later the leaks were gone. Going to wait a while to ensure the repairs are really holding before replacing the drywall. Good luck with your repairs, but I don't think that epoxy will fix yours...
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Old 07-21-2017, 02:22 PM   #18
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Hydraulic steering lines are high pressure. Repair as appropriate.
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Old 07-22-2017, 12:57 AM   #19
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Compression fitting, refilled the system, bled it, I have steering again (what a waste of a day). At least it has new fluid, mostly. The old stuff was pretty dark.
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Old 07-22-2017, 01:51 AM   #20
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We had a "free home roof insulation" scheme,run by the Government. Shonky installers were attracted to the scheme, like blowflies to cow dung. Several unsupervised untrained labourers working in roofs with a staple gun to attach aluminum sheet insulation penetrated 240v wires with predictable results. Then there were the house fires...the heat exhaustion cases.... but not relevant here.
There should be a way to determine what is underneath, I have a vague memory there was a device to do that, but maybe it was just to locate vertical timber studs behind plasterboard.
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