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Old 05-27-2020, 06:28 PM   #1
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Power Steering on Bigger Trawlers

Does your boat have power steering, and if so, how big is the boat?

Planning on doing preventative maintenance on my steering system (Hynautic) this summer, to include rebuilding the rudder cylinder and replacing, seals in the helm, and maybe replacing all the fluid. The system is 18+ years old.

Started thinking about the helm pump which is a major chore to steer with. I can turn it fine, but if the autopilot quit, it would be miserable to steer all day. It has the 950 PSI valves and I'm thinking about switching to the 500 PSI valves which would cut the effort in half. Easy enough to try for around $225. Just don't know if my 3' by 2' rudder will require the higher pressure valves.

Then I started thinking about the autopilot pump. I live on autopilot; it's 18 years old; has 4,000+ hours on it. At some point it will need new brushes and maybe more.

So I went to see my John Deere guy who is the local expert on hydraulics. Commercial grade helm, constant volume pump direct drive off my ZF transmission, solenoid block with flow dividers etc for the autopilot, and reservoir, is a little over 3 boat units. Add another one to cover hose fittings and the cylinder rebuild kit. I would do the install myself.

If you've ever driven a boat with commercial grade power steering, well it's really nice! If I were crossing oceans, I would have to rationalize reliability versus complexity. But I'm not; I'm a coastal cruiser. Hand steering the boat the way it is now for 100 miles across a Great lake would be miserable. If I had to do it in a following sea....

Anyway, curious what those with power steering think, and the rest of you.

Ted
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:40 PM   #2
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I think it is wonderful. It made steering out big fat old Hatteras like driving a '68 Caddy with one finger. My preferred method of pilotage "inside" was to sit back in the helm seat and steer with the little dial on our old Robertson wired remote. I was so thankful for whichever PO set things up that way. Including the long cables on the remotes. Ann liked to manually steer using the big destroyer type wheels and our modified Hynautic system made that very easy as well. In almost seven years of ownership and a few thousand hours of running I never did one minute of maintenance.
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Does your boat have power steering, and if so, how big is the boat?

Planning on doing preventative maintenance on my steering system (Hynautic) this summer, to include rebuilding the rudder cylinder and replacing, seals in the helm, and maybe replacing all the fluid. The system is 18+ years old.

Started thinking about the helm pump which is a major chore to steer with. I can turn it fine, but if the autopilot quit, it would be miserable to steer all day. It has the 950 PSI valves and I'm thinking about switching to the 500 PSI valves which would cut the effort in half. Easy enough to try for around $225. Just don't know if my 3' by 2' rudder will require the higher pressure valves.

Then I started thinking about the autopilot pump. I live on autopilot; it's 18 years old; has 4,000+ hours on it. At some point it will need new brushes and maybe more.

So I went to see my John Deere guy who is the local expert on hydraulics. Commercial grade helm, constant volume pump direct drive off my ZF transmission, solenoid block with flow dividers etc for the autopilot, and reservoir, is a little over 3 boat units. Add another one to cover hose fittings and the cylinder rebuild kit. I would do the install myself.

If you've ever driven a boat with commercial grade power steering, well it's really nice! If I were crossing oceans, I would have to rationalize reliability versus complexity. But I'm not; I'm a coastal cruiser. Hand steering the boat the way it is now for 100 miles across a Great lake would be miserable. If I had to do it in a following sea....

Anyway, curious what those with power steering think, and the rest of you.

Ted

Would you only (or primarily) steer via the AP control with this new setup? Or would there be some way for steering at the wheel to be power assisted by this new pump?


I can't tell if this is just a big upgrade to your AP steering pump, or if it's a full power steering system tied into the helm wheel (and AP too).


I don't have power steering, i.e. power assist when turning the helm wheel, and it's a bear to steer manually. But I almost never touch the wheel, instead steering almost 100% of the time via the, either in Auto or Nav modes, or using one of several full follow up steering controls at the various operator stations. I think this is what you are describing, with the addition of a higher grade pump. But no mention of follow up steering controls? Or is that built into the AP control panel?
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Old 05-27-2020, 07:30 PM   #4
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Would you only (or primarily) steer via the AP control with this new setup? Or would there be some way for steering at the wheel to be power assisted by this new pump?


I can't tell if this is just a big upgrade to your AP steering pump, or if it's a full power steering system tied into the helm wheel (and AP too).


I don't have power steering, i.e. power assist when turning the helm wheel, and it's a bear to steer manually. But I almost never touch the wheel, instead steering almost 100% of the time via the, either in Auto or Nav modes, or using one of several full follow up steering controls at the various operator stations. I think this is what you are describing, with the addition of a higher grade pump. But no mention of follow up steering controls? Or is that built into the AP control panel?
The new helm would have power steering. You could turn the destroyer wheel with one finger. I know you're old enough , the difference is like turning the steering wheel of a car without power steering and stationary, versus the same car with power steering.

For commercial boats that pull crab or lobster pots all day, this is almost an absolute must for all the steering they do.

I would still steer most of the time with the autopilot either in Nav, Auto, or use the remote to turn the rudder.

Ted
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:45 PM   #5
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Ted,
Not sure this is helpful but will relay my experience.
Klee Wyck is 48 feet but only 55K# with a straight rudder and the helm is 'geared' low at seven turns lock to lock. A dream to hand steer with the wheel even with no power assist.
However, Libra is a different story completely. She is heavy with a fishtail rudder and 'geared' high at 4 turns lock to lock. Steering with the wheel (manual helm) is just miserable and exhausting.
What saves her is dual sourced hydraulics coupled to a an NFU lever completely independent of the AP In fact, if you engage this lever to steer it will automacially disengage the AP70.
The fluid power supply for this lever is (selected by a switch) either the hydraulic pump that is an auxiliary drive off the Mercedes main or a wall mount electric over hydraulic pump. This 'power steering' by lever is a dream to operate when in close quarters on not on auto or if dodging pots in Boundary Bay. Fast response and effortless.
I would recommend this system on a hard steering boat.
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Old 05-27-2020, 09:11 PM   #6
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Ted,
Not sure this is helpful but will relay my experience.
Klee Wyck is 48 feet but only 55K# with a straight rudder and the helm is 'geared' low at seven turns lock to lock. A dream to hand steer with the wheel even with no power assist.
However, Libra is a different story completely. She is heavy with a fishtail rudder and 'geared' high at 4 turns lock to lock. Steering with the wheel (manual helm) is just miserable and exhausting.
What saves her is dual sourced hydraulics coupled to a an NFU lever completely independent of the AP In fact, if you engage this lever to steer it will automacially disengage the AP70.
The fluid power supply for this lever is (selected by a switch) either the hydraulic pump that is an auxiliary drive off the Mercedes main or a wall mount electric over hydraulic pump. This 'power steering' by lever is a dream to operate when in close quarters on not on auto or if dodging pots in Boundary Bay. Fast response and effortless.
I would recommend this system on a hard steering boat.
The lever steering you describe is seen on some pot hauler boats at the work station. Great for large quick course changes, but my impression is that it's not as fine an adjustment when you only need to change the rudder angle by a degree or two.

My helm is 7 turns lock to lock. So in addition to it being hard because of the higher pressure valves, you also have to crank the wheel a lot if you were to use it for close in maneuvering.

Ted
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Old 05-27-2020, 09:12 PM   #7
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There are a variety of power steering systems out there. I'll list a few, probably more out there:

Electric/hydraulic (teleflex), normal helm, normal AP pump, normal rudder cyl. This is what I used on my ride. Easy to install, but it is noisy when working the wheel.

Four port hydraulic (aka forklift steering). Hyd pump on engine or gear, constant supply of oil pressure to helm (which has four ports), one supply port, one return port, one port each for p/s. AP uses solenoid valves instead of a pump. Cat's meow, but will need to re-tune AP. Helm can often be noisy. Hissing hydraulic fluid. Will probably need an oil cooler. Lots of hyd lines to run, will need a tank.

Power steering at rudder cylinder: Std helm, but the power assist is built into the rudder cylinder. Pump on engine or gear, can also be stand-alone electric. AP I think still uses it's own pump.

The first system is pretty easy to install, but will not change the lock-to-lock turns. The latter two are pretty involved and I would expect pretty expensive. Probably can do it yourself with $3k in parts (maybe). But still pretty involved. Lots of work.

Oh, and changing the relief valves from 950 to 500psi will have no effect on steering effort at the wheel. It just changes the breaking pressure where system vents to reservoir on a hard turn of the wheel.
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Old 05-27-2020, 09:20 PM   #8
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The lever steering you describe is seen on some pot hauler boats at the work station. Great for large quick course changes, but my impression is that it's not as fine an adjustment when you only need to change the rudder angle by a degree or two.

My helm is 7 turns lock to lock. So in addition to it being hard because of the higher pressure valves, you also have to crank the wheel a lot if you were to use it for close in maneuvering.

Ted
You are correct that it takes some getting used to for feathering the rudder with a lever. I remember being so embarrassed at sea trial in the Netherlands with her, I could not for the life of me drive her straight using the lever and we were in the canal system with two way traffic. You get used to it some for sure, If I am in more open sea and not in AP navigation mode, I just do fine steering with the AP dial and not set to navigation mode, although for these fine adjustments the big wheel works fine as well. It is when you are in a seaway or close quarters that the wheel becomes decorative only
Did I ever say how much I love my AP70?
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:48 AM   #9
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The new helm would have power steering. You could turn the destroyer wheel with one finger. I know you're old enough , the difference is like turning the steering wheel of a car without power steering and stationary, versus the same car with power steering.

For commercial boats that pull crab or lobster pots all day, this is almost an absolute must for all the steering they do.

I would still steer most of the time with the autopilot either in Nav, Auto, or use the remote to turn the rudder.

Ted

Yes, that's the full deal. Very nice. A friend installed a Hypro power steering system that has a fly by wire helm plus hydraulic power pack back at the rudder. I stuck with the manual system simply because it's really just a backup for steering, with all maneuvering via the AP follow up lever. I think either approach accomplishes the same thing.
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:44 AM   #10
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There are a variety of power steering systems out there. I'll list a few, probably more out there:

Electric/hydraulic (teleflex), normal helm, normal AP pump, normal rudder cyl. This is what I used on my ride. Easy to install, but it is noisy when working the wheel.

Four port hydraulic (aka forklift steering). Hyd pump on engine or gear, constant supply of oil pressure to helm (which has four ports), one supply port, one return port, one port each for p/s. AP uses solenoid valves instead of a pump. Cat's meow, but will need to re-tune AP. Helm can often be noisy. Hissing hydraulic fluid. Will probably need an oil cooler. Lots of hyd lines to run, will need a tank.

Power steering at rudder cylinder: Std helm, but the power assist is built into the rudder cylinder. Pump on engine or gear, can also be stand-alone electric. AP I think still uses it's own pump.

The first system is pretty easy to install, but will not change the lock-to-lock turns. The latter two are pretty involved and I would expect pretty expensive. Probably can do it yourself with $3k in parts (maybe). But still pretty involved. Lots of work.

Oh, and changing the relief valves from 950 to 500psi will have no effect on steering effort at the wheel. It just changes the breaking pressure where system vents to reservoir on a hard turn of the wheel.
On the Hynautic system, it was my understanding that the helm pulled oil from the reservoir and pushed it to either side of the cylinder depending on which way you turn the wheel. The oil coming out of the opposite end of the cylinder had to push the valve open to return to the reservoir. The effort to turn the wheel included developing enough pressure to push the return valve open.

The system I'm looking at is like the forklift style. The pump runs unloaded until you turn the wheel. Then pressure builds up. When you stop turning the pressure falls off. Same for the autopilot solenoids. The system has a 6 gallon reservoir but not an oil cooler.

From having used one, if the oil volume going through the system is too high, they can be noisy. If the system is only used for steering, they use a constant volume pump where the volume doesn't vary based on engine RPM.

Before I head down this road, I plan to go for a ride on one he has installed.

Ted
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Old 05-28-2020, 06:40 AM   #11
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Did I ever say how much I love my AP70?
I have the AP20 with an AP21 that I really like and is very dialed in. It's also 18 years old. I've been looking long and hard at either the AP48 or AP70. Really like the AP21 and jog lever I have now, but it's 18 years old.......

Ted
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:16 AM   #12
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For the high steering effort, what size are the lines from your helm cylinder? If they're long and on the smaller side, that can contribute to higher steering effort.

Otherwise, manual hydraulic steering is pretty much a trade off between number of turns and amount of effort. Mine is good effort wise. The 5 turns lock to lock is great to hand steer for fine adjustments up on plane, but I wouldn't mind faster steering at low speeds. But that's just a reason for me to add an autopilot at some point, I think.
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:32 AM   #13
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For the high steering effort, what size are the lines from your helm cylinder? If they're long and on the smaller side, that can contribute to higher steering effort.

Otherwise, manual hydraulic steering is pretty much a trade off between number of turns and amount of effort. Mine is good effort wise. The 5 turns lock to lock is great to hand steer for fine adjustments up on plane, but I wouldn't mind faster steering at low speeds. But that's just a reason for me to add an autopilot at some point, I think.
Don't think it's line size. When you open the valves to purge the system, the helm pump turns with very little effort. My system is 7 turns lock to lock with the same amount of effort whether the boat is in the water or on land.

Ted
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:41 AM   #14
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Hmm, that would make me question if there's excess drag in the rudder cylinder, rudder bearings / packing, etc. Unless the valve assembly truly is adding extra effort for no good reason.

Effort on mine is similar on land vs in the water when stopped or moving slowly, but effort does go up at higher speeds, especially as you get the rudders further from center. I'd expect that with you likely having a larger rudder, effort would start to increase without as much boat speed / prop wash.

Thinking about it, I know my steering lines are a bit smaller than ideal. A good way to check for hydraulic resistance like that is to turn the wheel slowly, then quickly and note the difference in effort. On my system, quick turns definitely come with an increase in effort.
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Old 05-28-2020, 08:09 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Does your boat have power steering, and if so, how big is the boat?

............

If I were crossing oceans, I would have to rationalize reliability versus complexity. But I'm not; I'm a coastal cruiser.
..............


Ted

If I could afford it I would not hesitate!

I have decades of experience with commercial grade power steering. Heavy steel boats 57' and up. This included rough passages and crossing hazardous bars with confidence. In a properly designed and installed system there is no concern for reliability. The manual helm pump is always available and will work should you loose power to the power steering system. The weak point is the same as with any hydraulic system, hoses and seals on the ram(s). Regular inspection and maintenance will keep you out of trouble. Carry spares if you feel the need.

If $$ were no object I'd have it set up with
  • Simrad/Robertson style autopilot with wired remote. The kind with a knob that 1 click is 1 degree course change on autopilot. I'd steer through narrow canals and cuts that way.
  • Full follow up lever or wheel. The rudder angle goes to what you command. I was mostly running singles and I knew how much rudder I needed for a given maneuver. I'd set the FFU unit to that and could pay attention to everything else.
  • A jog stick. The rudder moves in the direction you move the stick, then returns to center when you let go. I didn't use it much, but a nice backup in the event the FFU unit got fussy or the autopilot quit. I still had simple power steering.
  • A "cut out" switch. At the core of most power steering systems is a dual solenoid valve. Should any component of the autopilot or jog stick send faulty signals, fail completely or any other problems the cut out kills the electrical signals and steer by hand.
Back to reliability. The last system I had installed is now 22 yrs old and still going strong without a single failure of the power steering system. On a work boat that is underway 100 + days per year. Autopilot electronics were the only problem and very infrequent at that.

One boat I worked on, brand new, would at times completely loose steering. Power, autopilot, jog stick, manual helm. All of it. Every time it was metal shavings in the solenoid valves. A simple fix, but never happened at a good time. The builder had been sloppy and let crud get in the reservoir. As with any hydraulic system cleanliness is critical to successful operation. This was not a power steering problem, the same sloppiness would have caused problems with the seals in the rams and helm pump of a manual system.
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Old 05-28-2020, 10:55 AM   #16
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I have manual hydraulic steering on an 83' boat with twin rudders. But I also have an autopilot and pump. I use the autopilot as much as possible. Steering I use the jog levers to control the autopilot pump or a remote. I only touch the wheels for docking and then rarely.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:11 PM   #17
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I'm confused about what valves the OP is taking about changing. In a manual hydraulic steering system the only valves are the check valves which relieve pressure if the cylinder gets overloaded, they just bleed pressure from one side to the other. Changing them doesn't effect steering load. Maybe Hynautic is different.
The hard part in going to powered hydraulic steering, and the reason designed systems are expensive is variable rate, so turning fast or slow and something to turn the pump off or bleed pressure when the rudder comes to its stop. IMO you can't just rely on the check valves to bleed pressure if you've run the rudder against the stop and are still holding the jog lever over.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:44 PM   #18
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The hard part in going to powered hydraulic steering, and the reason designed systems are expensive is variable rate, so turning fast or slow and something to turn the pump off or bleed pressure when the rudder comes to its stop. IMO you can't just rely on the check valves to bleed pressure if you've run the rudder against the stop and are still holding the jog lever over.
Powered hydraulic systems and conventional manual hydraulic helms have pressure relief valves built into the system so that when the cylinder bottoms out, the additional fluid is bypassed to the reservoir. In the case of engine powered pumps, the over pressure valve is easily adjustable allowing the pressure to be reduced to only a modest amount more than the worst load case scenario. Ideally the cylinder is bottoming out, not the rudder.

The ideal setup allows for constant volume regardless of engine RPM. This is accomplished by the pump dumping excess fluid at higher RPMs back to the reservoir.

As for jog levers and any other system run through the autopilot computer, cylinder travel is set in the computer with the rudder feedback telling the computer when to stop flow to the steer cylinder.

Ted
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Old 05-28-2020, 10:38 PM   #19
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Anybody use one of these jog joysticks?


https://www.simrad-yachting.com/simr...teering-lever/


Seems like an easy way to add power steering. Just another way to control the autopilot
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Old 05-29-2020, 05:35 AM   #20
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Our Navy launch was converted from mechanical to HYD steering.

A set of rams handled the rudder , a pump about the size of a power steering unit was belted off the engine.

The wheel could have been a door knob , it simply ported L or R with little hand load. The AP was a Robinson so rudder position was visible as desired.

The AP used aircraft grade solenoid valves , no DC pump, took 1/2 amp to trigger valve .A 10 gallon tank supplied the ATF.

AS the pump was powerful it was also used to operate the hyd motor on a Lewmar capstan. Cooling for the windlass was simply letting the feed hose & return lay in the bilge water.


Would easily bring aboard the anchor at 800RPM idle after morning start.


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