Helm issue?

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  • Helm issue?

    So, f I have a hydraulic seastar helm, and it needed to be rebuilt or replaced, what would I be feeling when I’m steering?

  • #2
    Sorry, CinC house rang the dinner bell.

    Anyway, boat has been sitting for 6 weeks. Pulling away from ramp helm was bumpy, or skipping, when turning left. No issue to right. Ran the helm stop to stop a few times and that issue resolved. Suspect air in system on that one.

    After clearing that, the helm just seemed harder to turn than it should be. Guess if there air, there may be low fluid, and there may be a leak. Will investigate that tomorrow.

    No leaks at steering ram. That’s as far as I got

    Worried I may have helm seal or valve issues?? Obviously will try fill and bleed first.

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    • #3
      Bumping & skipping, to me, is a sure sign of air bubbles in there. Between my 3 bros and I we’ve owned dozens of boats w/ SeaStar steering and never even had to replace a helm check valve and only one ram O-Rings on one dual OB boat.

      To fill I turn the wheel slowly to one side, remove cap slowly and then fill. While hard over, grab wheel and look at the level, if it drops while still turning the wheel hard, that is a sign of air in the system (air compresses/fluid does not). Turning slow so as not to make or introduce any new air bubbles. Slowly turn lock to lock to the other side & repeat.

      Something else that I do, seems crazy, but that seems to work, so let’s see how well I can explain it. With fill cap tight, I turn slow all to 1 way, then crank back fast all the other way. Then sloooooooly loosen the fill cap, lightly jigglIng it as you loosen to allow air - but not oil - to escape. Recap and repeat by turning fast to other side. Yeah, you need to do it quite a few times, even over a few days, but whatever ... it seems to work for me.

      Oh, once turned to a side and air escaped, check the fill level again, where Teleflex says it should be at the bottom of the threads on a horizontal helm. Check their FAQ for other mount positions. You don’t want to crank fast on a low-filled helm.

      I check the fill level often to prevent ‘low fill’ conditions, but whenever I feel the ‘bumps’, I check the fill and do my mini-funky ‘bleed’ regimen. I think maybe the bumps are air pockets hitting (collapsing?) as they hit the bearings in the helm roller race ... ? Remember, essentially the wheel/helm is a manual pump.
      Life is too short for an ugly boat!

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      • #4
        I did your first technique and was able to see a couple of bubbles come out. Think I added 2-3 oz of fluid to the system. Also tightened one of the hyd line connections at back of helm. Not enough fluid around to ID it, but seemed to be some fluid on the line. I’ll repeat the process over a few days see what I get.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by AboutTime2Fish View Post
          I’ll repeat the process over a few days see what I get.
          Yes, please let us know how it works out for you!

          When I ran my Classic Parker website, I once made my own DIY fancy bleeding tube with clear hose and a bleed valve, where I'd put it inline between the 2 steering ram connections, then turn the wheel and when an air bubble hit the clear tube, I'd center the bubble at the little valve and would crack it open. But then I tried the tricks as above ... and never needed to use that bleed tool again.

          Life is too short for an ugly boat!

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          • #6
            Seems I got some more air out yesterday, it’s definitely feeling much better. Seems like the helm remote fill is lower than I would have installed it. Only about an inch higher than the top of the helm pump. I’d been running helm stop to stop during the day, then got the hyd fluid out. When I opened the fill cap there was a hiss of air coming out.

            The system could probably use a complete flushing, maybe this winter.

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