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Old 19-10-2012, 10:29   #16
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

It is a sliding metal piece.... maybe an inch wide and 5/8 thick or so... it slides into a mating cavity when the cables pulls on it.
I have mixed feelings about hydraulic steering myself. I liked the hydraulic autopilot though. Hydraulic steering might be great on a big boat, especially a center cockpit, but at 38 feet... would be nice to have the feel. If you have a lot of weather helm... It could be real nice....
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Old 19-10-2012, 10:54   #17
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

OK, I think I see it now. The pin on the end of the cable attaches to an assembly that goes through the upper/drive arm and slides back and forth in a slot in that arm as you push/pull the cable.

Under the drive arm the pin/latch assembly is attached to a piece that slides back into a cavity on the end of the lower/rudder arm.

So are the sliding metal piece and the matching cavity rectangular, tapered?

Obviously trying to figure out if I can modify my existing AP to disconnect like the Alpha.
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Old 19-10-2012, 11:01   #18
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

just rectangular,,, kinda chamfered on the end to help get it started in the slot.
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Old 19-10-2012, 11:11   #19
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I have mixed feelings about hydraulic steering myself. I liked the hydraulic autopilot though. Hydraulic steering might be great on a big boat, especially a center cockpit, but at 38 feet... would be nice to have the feel. If you have a lot of weather helm... It could be real nice....
Very limited experience with hydraulics. Only had one boat with hydraulic steering and had about zero feedback at the helm. Not sure it was due to the size and rudder and steering design or if due just to the hydraulic system. Since I have never had any problems with cable steering and excellent feel on the helm I think I'll stick with cable. Even center cockpit boats with relatively long runs from helm to quadrant have not been a problem.

Also all the autopilots I owned were mechanical drive of one sort or another. The only problem I experienced was that over time they would develop a little slack in the system due to wear on the mechanical parts. Common advise is that a hydraulic AP drive is the most reliable since it's hydraulic.

However there is still a DC motor in a hydraulic system to drive the pump so from one point of view, you are adding an extra layer of complexity, more parts to break and repair. So why not just stick with the electric direct drive and get rid of the hydraulics?
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Old 19-10-2012, 11:13   #20
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

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just rectangular,,, kinda chamfered on the end to help get it started in the slot.
Thanks. Think I'll take a long lunch break and go out to the boat to inspect the AP setup.
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Old 19-10-2012, 11:23   #21
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

I worried less about the feel of the rudder than I used to. Mostly , I would put the boat on the heading I needed, engage the autopilot, and set the sail trim to that. If there's too much helm/weatherhelm... I can hear it gurgling behind the boat as the rudder is dragged through the water! Once you know your boat, you know what is what i guess.... You might call Alpha.... if I read their (minimal!) website, the whole apparatus is less than $300.... if they'll sell one separately....
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Old 19-10-2012, 18:10   #22
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Very limited experience with hydraulics. Only had one boat with hydraulic steering and had about zero feedback at the helm. Not sure it was due to the size and rudder and steering design or if due just to the hydraulic system. Since I have never had any problems with cable steering and excellent feel on the helm I think I'll stick with cable. Even center cockpit boats with relatively long runs from helm to quadrant have not been a problem.

Also all the autopilots I owned were mechanical drive of one sort or another. The only problem I experienced was that over time they would develop a little slack in the system due to wear on the mechanical parts. Common advise is that a hydraulic AP drive is the most reliable since it's hydraulic.

However there is still a DC motor in a hydraulic system to drive the pump so from one point of view, you are adding an extra layer of complexity, more parts to break and repair. So why not just stick with the electric direct drive and get rid of the hydraulics?
Definitely the hydraulic system. Every boat that has it shows the same characteristics. Never again for me. On the other hand hydraulic AP works OK - I have it.
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Old 20-10-2012, 08:11   #23
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I think that a hydraulic system can have a simple valve that provides some feedback from the rudder if the sizes of the various elements are correctly designed.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:16   #24
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

Very Interesting comments.

I am considering doing this conversion on my 1975 Irwin 42 Ketch
(30,000# Displacement).
The steering cable housings have split & in the process of trying to locate replacements found the original design was using under size 3/16" 7x19 cable.
The original cable casings are no longer available. My option is to either reconfigure the system with an up grade to 1/4" or convert to Hydraulic.

I especially noted the comment re: the loss of feel at the helm when using a Hydraulic system. I understand there is however an advantage in reduction of resistance ratio compared to the current Pull/Pull system in place.

I too would appreciate any additional feedback as well, including manufacturer & part recommendations as well as the possible use of a Monitor Wind Auto pilot in the future . Thanks Cal
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:00   #25
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Re: Thinking About Hydraulic Steering For My 38 Foot Irwin

The OP might want to hit our search button and put in ABANDON SHIP, to read an interesting thread about the sad results of hydraulic steering and an autopilot. Most of the thread is conjecture but the origin of the problem was a simple steering failure.____Grant.
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