Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-19-2015, 06:50 AM   #1
Guru
 
City: Doha
Country: Qatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 663
STEERING: Hydraulic vs Mechanical Steering for 50ft Trawler

My builder is proposing various steering systems:

1) Manual hydraulic
2) Cable steering
3) Gear/shaft/U-joint mechanical - simple "Z" shape would require a total of three 90 degree turns and a pair of U-joints

My boat has only a pilothouse control station and a 30 inch wheel is easy to accommodate. An autopilot will need a hydraulic cylinder to be mounted to the steering quadrant, which would offer much-appreciated redundancy.

My previous 65ft power boat had cable steering and personally I thought it was fantastic: it offered "feel" and the kingspoke on the wheel never drifted even a fraction of a degree. Very tight. However you certainly could feel friction in the system.

A drive shaft system should have lower friction than the cable but would pass through the cabins belowdecks, and with only 6ft 4in headroom down there the shaft would be obtrusive.

The requirement is for simplicity and dependability. Personally I'm inclined to either #1 or #2.

Some feedback please.
__________________
Advertisement

makobuilders is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 08:15 AM   #2
Guru
 
Ski in NC's Avatar
 
City: Wilmington, NC
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Louisa
Vessel Model: Custom Built 38
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 3,884
Go hydraulic. Much easier to install hardware and easier to install autopilot.
__________________

Ski in NC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 08:22 AM   #3
Guru
 
twistedtree's Avatar
 
City: Gloucester, MA
Country: USA
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,187
Another vote for hydraulic. I also think it's the only approach where your helm wheel will stand still when on autopilot. I think with the other approaches when your pilot steers, the helm wheel will follow too. That seems weird at best, and dangerous at worst.
__________________
www.MVTanglewood.com
twistedtree is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 08:38 AM   #4
Guru
 
siestakey's Avatar
 
City: Sarasota,FL/Thomasville,GA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Steppin Stone IV
Vessel Model: Marine Trader Kelly Trawler 46
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,271
Send a message via Skype™ to siestakey
Hydraulic for sure
siestakey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 08:43 AM   #5
Guru
 
No Mast's Avatar
 
City: Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Country: US
Vessel Name: Moana Huaka'i
Vessel Model: Selene 53
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 816
Yup, hydraulic.
No Mast is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 10:18 AM   #6
Guru
 
N4712's Avatar
 
City: South FL
Country: U.S.A
Vessel Name: Oliver
Vessel Model: Nordhavn 47 Hull# 12
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,613
Hydraulic !
__________________
Thanks, Oliver
M/V Oliver
Nordhavn 47 Hull #12
N4712 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 10:25 AM   #7
Guru
 
No Mast's Avatar
 
City: Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Country: US
Vessel Name: Moana Huaka'i
Vessel Model: Selene 53
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 816
What's happening??? I am seeing a unified response, on THIS forum???? where are the proponents of using hemp line (environmentally friendly) and radio controlled servos (hi tech) and telepathy (alien technology) and a BIG tiller instead (old purists), etc....

This is crazy
No Mast is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 12:45 PM   #8
Guru
 
City: Doha
Country: Qatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by No Mast View Post
What's happening??? I am seeing a unified response, on THIS forum????
THE TENTH MAN
If nine of us look at the same information and arrive at the same conclusion, it's the duty of the tenth man to disagree. No matter how absurd it may seem, the tenth man must work on the assumption that the other 9 are wrong.

So if I may be the skeptic, the outcast, let me ask… what exactly is wrong with mechanical steering? Where's the weakness? In what way is it not extremely reliable?

1) It costs less to install, so that difference will make up for having to install a hydraulic actuator for the autopilot, therefore cost works out the same.
2) Hydraulics are easier to install. Am only installing one steering system and it's the builder doing it, not me.
3) The wheel spins when the autopilot is on. Yes it does. It's a bit weird but works fine and I never suffered an injury in all those years using it.
makobuilders is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 01:10 PM   #9
Guru
 
Ski in NC's Avatar
 
City: Wilmington, NC
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Louisa
Vessel Model: Custom Built 38
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 3,884
Nothing wrong with mechanical steering. If that is what you want, then go for it.

I just like hydraulic better. I don't like the rudder moving on its own when I take my hands off the wheel. Installing an AP is easier with hydraulic, and there are many more options available for hyd AP's.

If you are going to do mechanical steering with hyd AP, then what is the point? You will need a hyd cyl anyway, and have a clutch to disengage cyl from the quadrant.
Ski in NC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 01:18 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
BryanF's Avatar


 
City: Astoria
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Florence A
Vessel Model: 47' Sutton
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 173
I have mechanical steering. Wheel chain drives the shaft which runs a honking enormous 90 degree gear box that sits atop the rudder shaft. Stone axe simple.
1 system failure shortly after launch noted in log book (I suspect something was not tightened at the time of install) and other than that it just works. 50 year old boat and about 6000 hours. Auto pilot is chain driven to the shaft.
BryanF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 01:28 PM   #11
Guru
 
City: Doha
Country: Qatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanF View Post
I have mechanical steering… Auto pilot is chain driven to the shaft.
I had a similar setup with my old Wood-Freeman. What type of drive unit are you using? I have been unable to find a modern (non-hydraulic) drive with enough power to move a large rudder properly.
makobuilders is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 01:44 PM   #12
QB
Senior Member
 
QB's Avatar
 
City: San Diego and Gabriola
Country: USA and Canada
Vessel Name: Skookum Maru
Vessel Model: Ed Monk design #1924
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 215
Quote:
Originally Posted by makobuilders View Post
I have been unable to find a modern (non-hydraulic) drive with enough power to move a large rudder properly.
Jefa has a 300 Nm sprocket drive, how much more do you need? Jefa Steering Systems
QB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 01:52 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
City: Madisonville
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Nirvana
Vessel Model: 41' Litton
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 142
I have a chain and shaft steering system. After I bought the boat the AP failed and that was my excuse to upgrade. Couldn't find an AP for a 35 yr. old system so was going to install hydraulic system. Then I found that Raymarine had a mechanical drive AP. I installed it and after five years now, not one problem. Just saying. I still like the idea of having a more modern system. But, all the guys I listen to with hydraulics complain about leaks, pump failures while on trips, etc. My AP may quit but the mechanical steering will get me back home.
__________________
41' Litton
Dixie Life is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 03:39 PM   #14
Guru
 
City: NC
Country: US
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 636
I would also put in a backup steering system including a backup autopilot and it's own hydraulic cylinder.

Later,
Dan
dannc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 04:14 PM   #15
Guru
 
Tad Roberts's Avatar
 
City: Flattop Islands
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Blackfish
Vessel Model: custom
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 707
Quote:
Originally Posted by QB View Post
Jefa has a 300 Nm sprocket drive, how much more do you need? Jefa Steering Systems
That's nice but.....2500 Euros for an electric motor?!!! The Wood-Freeman used the starter from an old Dodge car, $40-60 at the local junker.
Tad Roberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 04:50 PM   #16
Guru
 
Brooksie's Avatar
 
City: Cape Cod, MA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Island Seeker
Vessel Model: Willard 36 Sedan
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 954
One of my boats had shaft, chain and sprocket, mechanical steering. Dead simple, cheap, reliable. All good till I added AP then the wrap-up in the long shaft back to the rudder confused the hell out of the AP and it never would work right. Changed to Wagner hyd, problem solved.
Brooksie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2015, 08:11 PM   #17
Guru
 
O C Diver's Avatar
 
City: Fort Myers, FL... Summers in Crisfield, MD
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Slow Hand
Vessel Model: Cherubini Independence 45
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,813
Have chain gear reduction to shaft pittman arm in the dive boat (Bruno & Stillman). With a balanced rudder, there is no easier (least effort) steering. Can literally steer with 1 finger at 8 knots, no cranking a hydraulic pump while docking (single screw). Far fewer failure points than hydraulic. Only thing replaced in 40 years are the 2 tie rod ends twice and the 2 reduction chains (rusty, replaced with nickel plated). The AP is a hydraulic cylinder tied to the rudder arm that uses a typical AP pump. The system has an electric hydraulic valve. Energized, the pump is tied to the cylinder. Deenergized the valve ties the cylinder ports together so that the cylinder moves freely. I run on AP 80% of the time without a problem.

It's an absolutely great system with simple redundancy that I'll never change. That being said, I would never have it in my trawler if it required the shaft running through staterooms with the shaft, universal joints, and bearings turning exposed to guests.

Ted
__________________
Blog: mvslowhand.com
I'm tired of fast moves, I've got a slow groove, on my mind.....
I want to spend some time, Not come and go in a heated rush.....
"Slow Hand" by The Pointer Sisters
O C Diver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-23-2015, 08:21 AM   #18
FF
Guru
 
FF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 16,524
MY vote is for the cable.

#1 its far easier to repair should a hassle underway happen. Easy enough to have a fly bridge and not spend a week chasing air bubbles. Cost is minor, yet the feel is excellent., Hyd has no feel.

Parts are anywhere , O rings and rebuild kits are not.

#2 a wheel operated auto pilot should cost 1/4 of a hyd package , is far easier to install or repair.

#3 should a repair be required the emergency deck tiller can be used with out going below and attempting to disconnect a bunch of rusty fittings.

KISS , never lets you down.
FF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-23-2015, 09:50 AM   #19
Guru
 
AusCan's Avatar
 
City: Adelaide
Country: Australia
Vessel Name: Kokanee
Vessel Model: Cuddles 30 Pilot House Motor Sailer
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,095
I'm with you FF.


I've never had a boat with hydraulic steering, so I may not know what I am missing.


But - I have zero problems with my mechanical system. The autopilot drive is mounted directly on the helm wheel (Autohelm 4000). It is a simple system but works perfectly in all conditions over about 2-3 knots in speed. Sure the wheel turns on its own, but I don't see a problem with that.


The helm wheel is light in any conditions. I have great feel for what is happening when in a following sea, but never so much that its a lot of work.


I can fix anything that breaks. I recently picked up a complete spare autopilot (used) for $60, so I'm covered there.
The emergency tiller can be dropped into place and operating in about 30 seconds.


What advantage am I missing out on?
AusCan is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-23-2015, 11:39 AM   #20
Guru
 
Nomad Willy's Avatar
 
City: Concrete Washington State
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Willy
Vessel Model: Willard Nomad 30'
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 13,711
AusCan I agree,
But the ability to stay on course w/o hands on input is very important to me. I love the feel of cable or gear steering and the ability to clock the helm to the rudder so one can come to dead ahead quickly w/o a rudder position indicator. We steer our boat all the time (don't have AP) and almost all the time I'm happy w that but most of the reason is because I can set the helm w just a few corrections and henceforth only occasionally make small corrections to stay on course.

But I love the feedback and feel of mechanical steering. I contemplated installing adjustable springs to make mechanical steering keep a course but decided it would'nt work.

Converted to hydraulic and am relatively happy. But a mechanical steering system mated to a good AP would be excellent.

Edit:
If I was the type of skipper that uses waypoints and follows a straight course the AP would be more attractive.
__________________

__________________
Eric

North Western Washington State USA
Nomad Willy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012