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Old 06-06-2019, 11:38 AM   #1
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Wagner Steering Service

Looking for some input on appropriate fluid(s) for older (c1984) Wagner hydraulic steering system. I have the Wagner data sheet which lists several oils I never heard of, and can't find in any case. PO (deceased) left several opened containers of various oils (jack oil, trans. fluids, etc.) but no indication of what he used in the steering system, and no mx record. Marina manager suggested using Seastar sreering fluid, or just trans. fluid.

Thoughts?
Joe
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:46 AM   #2
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I had seastar oil and regular hydraulic oil in mine. No difference except that the regular hydraulic oil is a bit thicker in cold weather (cold like less than 10C) and result in a steering a bit stiffer (really a tiny bit). What I like with hydraulic oil is the red color so you easily see if you have a leak.
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:42 PM   #3
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I used tellus in my last boat and had Wagner steering.
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Old 06-06-2019, 12:55 PM   #4
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My Wagner system uses uses ISO 32, I think that is
10w oil.
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Old 06-06-2019, 01:00 PM   #5
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Hi Joe,

When I had my pumps and ram rebuilt a few years ago, the person who rebuilt them told me to use any hydraulic or winch oil or seastar's steering system oil. He told me I could use some transmission fluid if ever I needed to top it off or in an emergency, but too much would eventually damage the seals.
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Old 06-07-2019, 06:45 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info, gents. Sounds like the Seastar will serve fine.
Joe
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Old 06-07-2019, 07:05 AM   #7
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Greetings,
Mr. CW. Why not call Wagner? Products - Wagner Engineering Ltd. Sheesh!
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Old 06-07-2019, 08:21 AM   #8
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Answers:

Q1 Automatic Transmission Fluid should ONLY be used in an Emergency, when the Correct Type/s are NOT Available ... ATF can Eat Up the Synthetic Seals over a Short Time in the Wagner Pumps and Cylinders. Do NOT Use Brake Fluid!

Any oil suitable for Winch Drives is Acceptable!
I use ISO 32, it's Clear in Color & Compatible with Most Wagner Systems and is Readily available in Most Automotive Stores. Aviation Hydraulic Fluid is Also Good.

Wagner Preferred:
CHEVRON: AW Machine 32, EP Hydraulic MV
ESSO: Nuto H32
GULF: Harmony AW32, Harmony HVI 36
MOBIL: DTE 24, DTE 13
SHELL: Tellus 32, Tellus T37
TEXACO: Rando HD32, Rando HD AZ

Note: Depending on what is already in Your System a Good Check with any Type is to Mix a Little in a Cup with the New Fluid and see If They Blend Together, No Separation from Each Other.
Heres the wbsite you can ask questions etc https://www.marine-plus.com/estore/faqs
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:54 PM   #9
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For RTF: "Sheesh!"...….Really? (Had left message with Wagner; waiting for response. Meantime, I thought that's what this forum was for)
- Charlie Whiskey
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Old 06-07-2019, 05:10 PM   #10
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If you send me a PM I'll reply with all the mauals and info on wagner for that period. I tried posting it in the manual section last night for you , but for some reason it would not happen. And somewhat pressed for time. so send me an email to martin.purser@gmail.com and I'll mail you the manuals etc.
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Old 06-07-2019, 05:27 PM   #11
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CapeWhaler,

FWIW, I think that is exactly what this forum is for! Thanks for posting the question. Now you have your answer -- as does anyone google searching in the future!

Cheers!
-Greg
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Old 06-08-2019, 11:12 AM   #12
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Greg -
Thanks and again for the fluid info.
Regards -
Joe C.
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:44 PM   #13
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Whatever fluid you finally choose, do your system a favor and get all the old stuff flushed out before refilling.
There’s no telling what’s in there now, but at least some of it could date clear back to ‘84, and there’s likely some trash and water too.
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Old 06-08-2019, 11:14 PM   #14
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Bleeding those systems is a real PITA. It is hard to get all the air out. Especially if there is only one person or only one helm. Unless I had a reason, I, personally, wouldnt drain it.

The fluid doesnt get hot or wear out. And, the system isn't really very picky, anything 10wt ish that wont eat the seals or tubing is fine.

Manufacturer recommends mixing a little new fluid with a sample of old fluid to make sure they totally dissolve into each other. I'd do that and take opportunity to look at old sample. If it looked good I wouldnt drain it. If it looked bad, I would.
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Old 06-08-2019, 11:41 PM   #15
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Gkesden, anything mechanical wears over time, and hydraulic steering systems are no exception, and they do not utilize filters, as they are not circulating systems. They actually operate more like a push-pull cable where the cable only moves back and forth a couple of inches in the jacket, so that incorrect fluid fills, trash from wear or installation, or moisture can stay trapped in the lines forever.
I have worked on a lot of systems that benefitted greatly from a simple flush out and refill of spec fluid or I wouldn’t be suggesting that.
Bleeding the system may require a learning curve, but if you cruise, it’s something you should know how to do anyway.
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Old 06-08-2019, 11:57 PM   #16
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Hey Kaptnd,

I get it. I really do.

It is just that, given the manufacturer doesnt recommend it, and the pain it was, I wouldn't do it again unless helm operation indicated a need or I was going to lose a lot of fluid doing a repair, anyway. Especially if a sample looks good.

Just draining the system isnt really a "flush", either.

Also, there is a lot less solid-to-solid interaction in the fluid of these systems to make particulates than in many other mechanical systems. One of their beauties.

There's a difference between knowing how to bleed and doing it after small maintenance and having to do all the work to go from mostly air to no air.

Again. I really do get it. And, on most things, I'm the one above and beyond. But this just isn't one of them for me. I understand why it is for you.
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:25 AM   #17
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Both points well taken. Having dealt with aircraft hydraulic systems I'm sensitive to the need to keep them flushed out and uncontaminated and will probably do that with Serena at some point. But I've studied the Wagner procedure and, as noted by Greg, it's a bit cumbersome - particularly since I'm working on the boat at a remote location.

The boat answers the helm (both upper and lower) fine right now; it's just that the dipstick is dry on the upper helm station and I want to get it serviced with an acceptable fluid for the trip home. I can tell there is some very minor seepage from the ram but nothing serious...yet.
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:20 AM   #18
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I have had Wagner systems in two boats. The first, a 1982 build, sprung a leak in the pump manifold. At that time Wagner was still in business ( the old Co that actually built the S 50 system that I had) and when they returned it to me, I bought, on their recommendation, Telus 10 to top up the fluid. I still have a little after more than 30 yrs.

My present boat, 1980 build, also had a Wagner S 50. I tracked the Wagner Co when I had an issue with this system and found that the old engineering had been sold off to other steering Cos. Wagner had re-appeared, doing different types of steering systems and no longer supporting the S 50. Summer Equipment had a warehouse of old Wagner stuff and I was able to get what I needed from them at the time.

Subsequently, the pump manifold on this S 50 failed in a similar way to the one on my previous boat. I kept it going with band-aids for a while but eventually had to go to a different, more modern system.

The new Wagner Cos were, over a decade ago, getting into big ship steering systems and had no support for the mainstay products of their previous incarnations.

Com Nav was providing some support, though I doubt they still do. If you do find some present support for the old Wagner products, please tell this forum about it.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:58 AM   #19
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As previously stated, Wagner recommends ISO32. You can purchase ISO32 hydraulic oil for about $12 a gallon at Home Depot and Lowes.
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:36 PM   #20
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I have Wagner steering and rudder angle indicators installed sometime after 1972. I do have a Wagner service manual for "newer" Wagner autopilots (Micro, SE, etc.) that covers controls, power packs, accessories and angle indicators. I could scan pages for someone with issues to solve.

You can find parts, repairs and manuals here for old Wagner steering and autopilots:
Marine-Plus.Com Home Port For the Boating Community!


To bleed my system by myself, (the helm pumps are self bleeding), the cylinder has bleed ports where I attach a hand operated vacuum pump made for bleeding auto brakes. Pump up the vacuum, crack open the bleed port. I rebuilt my cylinder and had to vacuum bleed several times including turning the wheels lock to lock to get all the air out. I don't believe the oil has ever been changed. My plumbing between the helms, pump and cylinder is about 70' of dual 3/4" copper pipe. If I have any leaks or trouble plan on changing to hydraulic hose.
The bleeder in the pic is about $20 on ebay. There is a small vacuum container between the pump and rudder cylinder that catches the oil. I use a bigger container for major bleeding. Container can be anything that holds a vacuum with a sealable top -canning jar, gas can, bucket. And you can do your brakes.











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