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Old 09-15-2019, 03:24 PM   #1
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Lost Steering

Today we tried to take my 1986 38 Marine Trader Sundeck to the marina where we haul out. We backed out of the slip to discover I had no steering. Quick trouble shooting did not reveal a solution so I had to get her back to my slip using the bow thruster. This was at 4AM so no helpers available at the dock.


After getting tied up I started trying to find the problem. What I discovered is that the wheel at the upper helm turns with no resistance, basically you can just spin it. The wheel at the lower helm turns with some resistance but you cannot feel the stops. neither upper or lower will turn the rudder. If I turn on the auto pilot I can get it to turn the wheel for me.


The steering is hydraulic but there is not a separate pump and as near as I can tell(from the manual) each wheel is is a pump. It must be that you turn the wheel and that creates pressure. All of the hydraulic lines are copper and I found no leaks.


Is it possible there is a slow leak which over time has lower the fluid below a working level on the fly bridge and causes less effect to the lower helm but does not allow enough pressure from the lower to turn the rudder. I believe the Autohelm closes valves and is not effected by that the lower pressure at the helms.


The other problem is, if the is the case how do you refill and bleed the hydraulics since the plugs are pretty much inaccessible on the top of the steering units. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:36 PM   #2
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Is there a reservoir tank with a pressure guage? This is the usual setup with a Hynautic system.
You add fluid at the tank and you pump up the pressure with a hand pump. If the system won't hold pressure, you have a leak somewhere.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:51 PM   #3
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Had the same experience earlier this year. Tech at Turner Marine in Mobile found that the upper pump/reservoir was bad - and needed to be replaced. Paid dearly for that and left, only to discover the problem returned. Finally found that the pump was shipped with a plastic 'shipping plug', that was supposed to be replaced with a brass plug upon install. The plastic plug had split and fluid was leaking out and air was getting in. On our upper helm there is a remote for the spotlight that can be removed with two screws, and the filler plug on the pump/tank is directly under that. Teleflex Capilano system. It still has some play, so next will remove the hydraulic ram above the rudders and have it checked

Edit - I should add that Turner has stood by their work and is paying for the follow up work done at another marina - and I've heard that tech is no longer there.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:02 PM   #4
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Mark,

Welcome aboard. I see the boat is in Tawas. Where do you haul out at?
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:38 PM   #5
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My system does not have a separate reservoir tank. We looked high and low for that until we found the system in a manual that matched what I have.


I haul out at Bay Harbour in Bay City so it is a six hour cruise from E Tawas. Next year we will be moving the boat to Cheboygan where we use to keep our sailboat.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:38 PM   #6
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It will be useful to get picture and/or model/brand of your steering pump.
Often the steering as a reservoir of fluid and the plug is right on top of the steering unit.

One advice: always check steering before leaving the dock, you should always get the same number of wheel turns back to back, if not better not to move.

L
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:35 PM   #7
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Guessing that you just have a small leak somewhere. Obviously the upper helm pump is higher than the lower helm pump so it will run out of oil first as the system leaks. A reservoir at the upper pump will help as it will take longer to drain but the solution is to figure out where the oil is going.
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:50 PM   #8
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Probably not a fluid leak but an air leak. Find the reservoir and there will be an air gauge on the top. Pump it with bicycle pump to about 6 pounds (I think). Mine goes out about every third year, usually over the winter. I carry a bike pump for emergency.

You may be a little low on fluid, maybe a tablespoon or two. you can add this with a turkey baster with a little piece of tube force onto the end.

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Old 09-15-2019, 06:06 PM   #9
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If you have seastar system the upper helm has a vented fill plug, the lower a solid plug. try filling the upper helm pump and spinning wheel as you do it --then putting vented plug back spin it a dozen times -then wait 2 days and recheck.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:09 PM   #10
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Can you take the plug out of the upper helm and get a barb fitting with the same thread. Then put a hose on the barb fitting and try to fill the pump. Seastar has a filler for their helms like this.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:10 PM   #11
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Can you take the plug out of the upper helm and get a barb fitting with the same thread. Then put a hose on the barb fitting and try to fill the pump. Seastar has a filler for their helms like this.
Not needed- all you need is a small funnel. The seastar tube filler that fits their quart hydraulic fluid container is for changing helm pumps or rams.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:13 PM   #12
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The OP said the plugs is pretty much inaccessible so I doubt that he will be able to get a funnel and a quart of fluid in the filler hole. With a hose on the plug he may be able to route the hose somewhere he can pour fluid into the pump.
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:27 PM   #13
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I installed a Teleflex remote kit to a accessible location on the dash, make filling super easy......
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I installed a Teleflex remote kit to a accessible location on the dash, make filling super easy......
That is what I was getting at, didnít know that a kit was available.
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:51 PM   #15
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That is what I was getting at, didnít know that a kit was available.
That's cool. But you still must remove the vented top plug to install it. LOL
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:25 AM   #16
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Well the vent plug has to come off in any case in order to add fluid. So I would replace the plug with the extender kit and run it up out the top of the helm so future fills are easy.
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:59 PM   #17
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I talked to a mechanic and he told me the knob on the front of the wheel is the vent and fill opening. Being an ex sailboat I had assumed it was a helm brake. Hr told me slowly add hydraulic fluid toll full then let it sit overnight and if needed add more. He says it will not be perfect but should get me back to my haul out marina. I will try it this weekend.
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:08 PM   #18
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How about a couple of photos of your setup?
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:02 PM   #19
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After you fill it I would cycle it back and forth for a while to get some of the air out and then recheck the level.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:30 PM   #20
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Lost Steering

You really should snap a few pics. If the knob your mechanic pointed to is directly below the helm shaft, it is not a vent/fill. It is an adjustment knob for a Capilano system.
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