Notices

SeaStar Steering Acting Weird

Old 11-07-2012, 10:22 AM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Venice, FL
Posts: 1,901
Default SeaStar Steering Acting Weird

Well, first pretty cold day here in New England....I went out for a quick spin on Pleasant Bay and down to the North Cut and it finally dawned on me that my steering is acting weird, but especially weird today perhaps due to the cold.

When I steer to the port side....no problem...it pretty much acts OKS. When I try to steer to starboard, I find myself turning and turning and no steering going on....ok to the left....big dead zone going to the right. It is not centered either. No matter when I want to go to the right I get about 1.5 to two turns of no response, then suddenly it kicks in and heels over.

I've got SeaStar helm and wonder if this is a sign of low (or cold-shrunken) steering fluid. Where does one put fluid in on these puppies? I unscrewed something on the top of the helm column back during the summer and out came power steering fluid so I naturally screwed it right back in. Am I heading in the right direction on problem solving or out to lunch?

What are the best resources to trouble-shoot, fix and or top-up the fluid on this puppy? (and yes I'm hoping it's mondo simple...)

I'm still in the water and would like to hold out til I have at least 6 inches of snow on the deck before I pull it!

THanks for any and all help.

capecuddy
capecuddy is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 10:25 AM
  #2  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: North Shore
Posts: 376
Default

I had a similare problem.......ended up being air in the lines caused by leaky seals in the piston. I ended up buying seals online and replacing them myself.

http://www.teleflexmarine.com/suppor...tsaccessories/

http://www.teleflexmarine.com/suppor...ering-systems/
saltyric is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 10:36 AM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Weeki Wachee (home of the mermaids), FL
Posts: 11,691
Default

Air. Anytime you get a dead spot in the steering until the wheel "catches up", it's air...
seabob4 is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 11:34 AM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: AL
Posts: 514
Default

Originally Posted by seabob4 View Post
Air. Anytime you get a dead spot in the steering until the wheel "catches up", it's air...
Yep. Bleeding the system is pretty easy. I had to do it when I first bought my boat. Since that time I keep meaning to rebuild the helm and the ram with new seals but haven't got off my ass and done it yet.
Auburn02 is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 12:33 PM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Sarasota FL
Posts: 321
Default

Been there, it's air.
Circle Hooked is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 01:05 PM
  #6  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 1,042
Default

The plug on top of the helm is where you fill the helm oil. It definitely sounds like you're low on oil.
Witerango is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 04:10 PM
  #7  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: powhatan va
Posts: 878
Default

another vote for air + check for leaks
Badfishsportfishing is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 04:24 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Venice, FL
Posts: 1,901
Default

Thanks to all.....those links above got me vectored to Teleflex....went down to the marina in the storm today and got the helm and cylinder model numbers and a jug of fluid.

Turns out my dealer used automatic transmission fluid when he installed it. I just got a jug of the clear Teleflex fluid.....any problem with mixing them? At 27 bucks/quart, I sure hope not.
capecuddy is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 04:54 PM
  #9  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kitsap County WA
Posts: 24
Arrow

No problem mixing the fluids as it makes it easy to see when all the old fluid is out. I now flush mine every other year as the amount of crud that comes out is pretty gross.

There are three things you might want to pick up before flushing the system:

1 - There is a filling nozzle and hose assembly that will screw right into the helm pump along with the threads of the fluid bottle, if they did not sell you this when they sold you the fluid, they should have as you will make a huge mess without it.

2 - Get a new fill plug or two if you can find them as they have a tendency to be damaged during removal and the o-ring is a weird size that is impossible to find. They are cheap, so I would buy a couple to have a spare.

3 - Get two clear soda bottle and some clear plastic tubing that will fit on bleeder ports of the steering cylinder.

To bleed it, best to have two people and all of the tools set out where they need to be used and you just use the steering wheel to pump out each side of the circuit until the fluid is all clean and debris free.

The steering ram should not move the motor if everything is being done right. It will take one turn of the wheel to figure out if you are going the right direction.

If fluid comes out of the open bleeder port when you turn the wheel, only open one at a time thank you, you are going the right direction. If nothing comes out and the motor is trying move, you need to stop and then reverse the direction of the wheel.

With two people it's not to bad of a job but be sure to have lots of rags handy because if something comes loose or goes wrong, it can make a big mess pretty fast.

Hope this helps and good luck.

WD.





Originally Posted by capecuddy View Post
Thanks to all.....those links above got me vectored to Teleflex....went down to the marina in the storm today and got the helm and cylinder model numbers and a jug of fluid.

Turns out my dealer used automatic transmission fluid when he installed it. I just got a jug of the clear Teleflex fluid.....any problem with mixing them? At 27 bucks/quart, I sure hope not.
-
Wave-Dancer is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 05:06 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Venice, FL
Posts: 1,901
Default

THanks, Wave Dancer.....those are the kind of practical instructions I need!
capecuddy is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 05:46 PM
  #11  
Admirals ClubCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER Admiral's Club Member
THT sponsor
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: cape cod
Posts: 8,782
Default

I think you can start buy just bleeding the air out the top. No need to flush the whole system yet. Just hook the bottle up to the fill hose and screw the hose to the fill hole. Turn the wheel lock to lock a few times watching for air to come out the hose into the bottle. When you get the the steering end try forcing it a little to see if more air will come. Once your back and forth with no more air center the engine and remove the hose and plug quickly. Have plenty of rags handy on your first try at this. After a few times doing it you will only spill a drop or two. Not a bad idea to really eyeball the system for leaks although you might not have one.
jbg108 is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 05:55 PM
  #12  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Weeki Wachee (home of the mermaids), FL
Posts: 11,691
Default

I've posted this before, but why not again. Teleflex approves Mil Spec fluids meeting the 5606H criteria. I buy Phillips X/C Aviation Hyd fluid at my local small airport for $10/quart.
seabob4 is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 06:15 PM
  #13  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kitsap County WA
Posts: 24
Arrow

I tried it this way the first time and made a huge mess when the fluid took the path of least resistance and went into the bottle and ended blowing the bottle nozzle and plastic tubing apart.

Bad, bad idea IMO.

If the boat is more than a few years old it needs a complete flush job.

When you see the amount of crud and debris that come out with the old fluid, you will never run it more than a few years again.

As far as the fluids go, most boat manufactures use HIGH QUALITY ATF, (see posts below for clarifications) and it is red and therefore easy to ID leaks. Teleflex fluid is clear and is much harder to spot leaks.

WD.




Originally Posted by jbg108 View Post
I think you can start buy just bleeding the air out the top. No need to flush the whole system yet. Just hook the bottle up to the fill hose and screw the hose to the fill hole. Turn the wheel lock to lock a few times watching for air to come out the hose into the bottle. When you get the the steering end try forcing it a little to see if more air will come. Once your back and forth with no more air center the engine and remove the hose and plug quickly. Have plenty of rags handy on your first try at this. After a few times doing it you will only spill a drop or two. Not a bad idea to really eyeball the system for leaks although you might not have one.

Last edited by Wave-Dancer; 11-07-2012 at 06:27 PM. Reason: Correcteed ATF facts
Wave-Dancer is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 06:21 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Weeki Wachee (home of the mermaids), FL
Posts: 11,691
Default

Originally Posted by Wave-Dancer View Post

As far as the fluids go, most boat manufactures use ATF as it is cheaper and it is red and therefore easy to ID leaks. Teleflex fluid is clear and is much harder to spot leaks.

WD.
Sorry WD, but not true. They use mil spec fluid, as they would be left holding the bag if any steering issues came up. At Wellcraft, we used the Shell product, at Stamas, the Texaco product, and at PL, a Canadian oil company, can't remember the name.

I use Phillips as it's what Brooksville airport carries...

Name:  100_0202.jpg
Views: 169
Size:  69.7 KB

Note the MIL-PRF-5606H spec on the can...

All 4 are dyed red (even states this on the can) for easier leak detection...
seabob4 is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 06:24 PM
  #15  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kitsap County WA
Posts: 24
Default

Sorry to hear that.

I had a Grady dealer and a local Yamaha shop tell me the same thing so I accepted it as Gospel.

Time to go do some editing.

WD.


Originally Posted by seabob4 View Post
Sorry WD, but not true. They use mil spec fluid, as they would be left holding the bag if any steering issues came up. At Wellcraft, we used the Shell product, at Stamas, the Texaco product, and at PL, a Canadian oil company, can't remember the name.

I use Phillips as it's what Brooksville airport carries...



Note the MIL-PRF-5606H spec on the can...
Wave-Dancer is offline  
Old 11-07-2012, 06:31 PM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Weeki Wachee (home of the mermaids), FL
Posts: 11,691
Default

WD, the problem with ATF is when we get cold weather. ATF is a little thicker (viscous?) than 5606H, in cold weather conditions the steering stiffens up when using ATF. While ATF won't hurt either the helm or the cylinder, it will cause performance issues in the cold...
seabob4 is offline  
Old 11-08-2012, 05:52 AM
  #17  
Admirals ClubCaptains Club Member Admiral's Club Member
THT sponsor
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: At the floaters . . .
Posts: 9,319
Default

To the OP:

Doesn't sound like an air problem to me.

If you turn the wheel QUICKLY to the "bad" side does it start steering sooner???

I'm thinking you have some foreign material causing a check valve to stick. The tolerances in there are TINY.

As far as ATF goes . . . how cold does it have to be before it stiffens it up? We all use it in ALASKA with no problems.

We use 5606 as well b/c we use it in our planes (it is aviation brake/hydraulic fluid). I use whatever is available at the time, as we are in the middle of nowhere with no stores.

I agree that the OP should flush the system out completely. The seals always leak on the ram (eventually) and all kinds of funky stuff gets in there.

-Rob
rbhankins001 is offline  
Old 11-08-2012, 06:25 AM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 134
Default

Topping off and bleeding system may fix for awhile unless you got junk stuck in a check valve (in the helm pump) which kinda sounds like your problem... air would be late response to the left AND right turn I would think. You will probably need to find out where the air got in (LEAKY SEAL) Loose fitting, etc... fix that, flush and refill. All this is easy and you can do...If that doesn't fix it then look at the check valve you may need help with this. Aviation fluid is best to use. Good Luck
ITman is offline  
Old 11-09-2012, 06:48 AM
  #19  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Venice, FL
Posts: 1,901
Default

Originally Posted by seabob4 View Post
WD, the problem with ATF is when we get cold weather. ATF is a little thicker (viscous?) than 5606H, in cold weather conditions the steering stiffens up when using ATF. While ATF won't hurt either the helm or the cylinder, it will cause performance issues in the cold...
I believe that is exactly my problem.....I've really had no significant issue until the other day......coldest day I've been out in over a year.

I like JBG108's idea and was essentially going to try that on my own today. I appreciate the caution of what can happen from WaveDancer, so hopefully I can have my cake and eat it too.

Awesome discussion....I never even thought twice about steering on my boat (now a year and 5 months old) until I was fine turning left and then the wheel turned right about three time before kicking in "steer".

Exciting as you are coming up on a big markerr and can't get any motion starboard!

Thanks again to all for the discussion.

capecuddy is offline  
Old 11-09-2012, 08:05 AM
  #20  
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Homestead, FL
Posts: 84
Default

I have a similar issue, which actually almost threw me overboard earlier this week. I hit a wave and it threw the engine far port side while planing at 35 mph. Scary stuff. I ordered the replacement seal kit as I don't know the history of the hydraulic system (pre-owned boat) and I must have a leak somewhere for this to happen. I also ordered the fill tube, but how would that connect if I use a different bottle other than the SeaStar fluid bottle? I want to go with the aviation fluid as it is a different color and would allow me to see any leaks in the future. Also I want to totally flush the system, how many quarts would I need for that? How do you flush?
kiddcloud is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread