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Old 18-10-2005, 15:49   #16
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All that I know about hydraulic system reliability from firsty hand experience is that two out of the three times that I totally lost steering on a wheel steered cruising boat, it was due to a blown hydraulic system and the failure was tucked in some far away place that no human being could fit or would ever want to crawl. While installations can be designed to be accessible, the reality is that in most production boats the cylinders are often located under a afterberth or tucked into a corner of a lazarette, and the hydralic lines are routed through the bilges and behind cabinetry and liners.

Jeff
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Old 18-10-2005, 19:57   #17
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I enjoy using a tiller, and had one on my first boat...a 21 footer I had in college.

The only problem was... that I found I would lose gudgeons from time to time. I would have to basically replace them every year, and once had to limp a few miles back to shore with onely one (of two) in place. The tiller popped out many times, and really made the sail difficult.

So while tillers are better and more responsive in my opinion, I would take a wheel any day just to have less breakdowns.

(This is just from personal experience... and my preference. )
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Old 18-10-2005, 20:09   #18
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Hi Jeff

I doubt that "all you know..." is limited to some failure on some cruising sailboat. If that were true, what would be the sum of what you know at all?

Of course I'm being very glib here. yet there is a truth to either your limited experience or to your ability to think critically about just what constitutes a good design, installation, and choice of systems and products without some questioning on your part as to the reasons for both success as well as failure. In my limited experience raising orchids in Seattle is a guaranteed failure yet it is obvious with knowledge of their natural habitat that orchids thrive. It would be illogical to assume that orchids are an inferior species of plant.
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Old 18-10-2005, 21:58   #19
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Gee! All this bashing of hydraulic steering

And I just bought a pump, cylinder, tank and valves.

But I'm not worried; I'm installing the system myself. I work with hydraulics on a regular basis and the things that causes failures are bad installations and dirt. Providing the system is matched to the boat.

Dirt on the cylinder rods and dirty oil is what causes the seals to fail.

Installations should be made so that all lines and fittings can be accessed and inspected. All fittings should be bronze or stainless. All hoses should be rated well above capacity and routed properly, with no sharp bends or chaffing problems. When ever a hyd. line is pressurized it surges so they need to be secured and not just lying loose.

The pump I got is adjustable for volume and I'm adding bypass vales so I can convert to a tiller if need be.

And as for an auto pilot, Navtech plumbs right into the cylinder. With the flip of a lever the rudder runs free of the wheel.

And I can tell which way the rudder is angled by just looking at the tiller mount.

There will not be that back lash you get with mechanical or cable. And the space that it needs to be mounted will not be crowded with cables and sheaves. It only needs a one arm quadrant on the rudder shaft. Also I'll be installing roller bearings on the rudder flange plate to reduce the resistance.

If all goes well, I should have it done by summer.
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Old 18-10-2005, 22:14   #20
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hydraulic

I moderated the wording on my real feelings about wheels. Glad to hear that you got the idea that I don't like wheels.

The hydraulic steering system that I mentioned in my post was in a fairly new boat and had been rebuilt by a professional service in Northern Australia just before they left. They normally work on farm machinery but had loads of experience with hydraulics. They were able to get the system 'fixed' so it got my firiends hundreds of miles of offshore before it started it's fatal leaking again. The manufacturer of the steering gear is still scratching their head but thinks the hydraulic ram is defective. BTW, the owner of the boat is a long time heavy equipment operator who cut his teeth on caterpillars in Northern Canada. He's no novice when it comes to fixing hydraulics. 40 years of experience didn't help him. FYI, The boat was Kiwi built so probably has a system from down under.

Yes, a lot of boats are steered with hydraulics. For me it would be way down the list as they have zero feedback. Works great with an autopilot but no fun to sail. I have heard of a lot of hydraulic systems on sail boat failing, some catastrophically. Most interesting one was a boat sailing out of the Golden Gate to points south. They pitched off a wave so violently that the hydraulic backstay adjuster blew it's seals. Nearly lost the rig when the stay went slack.

Anyway, I'm a firm believer in KISS and that is not wheel steering. Even if wheels weren't such a pain to use, I'd be against them. There seems to be a trend in boating to include more and more complex systems to insulate us from the work of sailing. Some are really useful like roller furling, others seem to be just ways to part people from their children's inheritance.

As far as converting from a wheel to tiller, it's a consideration on every boat I look at. On most boats, it's not very practical without pulling the rudder and welding an extension on to the rudder stock to bring it above the cockpit sole level. Usually the emergency rudder is under a plate in the cockpit sole. It is not sealed once the plate is removed. In emergencies, you can easily attach the tiller but you better have a good bilgepump as there is no stopping any water in the cockpit finding its way below. Other boats, like the T-37 make conversion to a tiller nearly impossible. In the T-37 the emergency tiller is fitted in the lazarette hatch. You'd have to totally rebuild the aft deck to make it work. Other boats like a Wauquiez that I looked at would be easy. The emergency tiller fitting comes up throught the FRP cockpit coaming and you just have to slap on the tiller.

I found a web site that had an interesting conversion back to a tiller. Instead of adding onto the rudder stock, the had a bearing in the cockpit floor that supported the stub for the tiller. I haven't been able to verify that the company still offers such a conversion, unfortunately.

With todays balanced rudders, boats of 50' or more could be easily steered with a tiller. For the older barndoor unbalanced style, around 40' would probably be the upper limit. A wheel on anything less than 35' is just trying to outdo the Jones'.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 19-10-2005, 00:25   #21
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I think it's time to put on the waders

In order for a hyd. backstay cylinder to go slack that far it would have had to been installed with way too much stroke. When mine is all the way out I can barely get the cross pin out/in.

And if so I'll bet it wasn't one of these http://www.navtec.net/home/index.cfm

Mine has been on my boat for over 20 years through thick and thin and it still holds 1000 psi all winter long while in storage. Although, it's probably due for a seal kit by now. And usually a seal will start to leak before it gives up.

The cyl. on the vessel you discribed must have been under rated for the boat! The wire should snap before the seal ruptures.
.................................................. ........................_/)
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Old 19-10-2005, 00:55   #22
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Firstly, hey Delmarrey, there is a very flash, brand spanking new elect/hydraulic pump for sale here for a very good price. Let me know if you are interested, but sounds like you may already be sussed.
Sorry guy's, but I have to agree with Delmarrey and Rick. I too have an hydraulic background and the important aspect of these systems is correct design and specs right from the drawing board. Once that is sussed, hydraulics are very safe and reliable. Hey, in some things, peoples lives rely on hyadraulics to do the job. Sure, tillers are the most basic system as far as complexity is concerned, but then, I have heard of tillers breaking and failure at the shaft, so they are also not foolproof. And as Rick said, hydraulics can also provide feedback. It just depends on the design of the system. Like everything, you can get cheap and nasty or good quality. And Jeff, hey you of all should know that the placement of some part that is criticle should never, but always seems that it is, placed in some stupid out of the way place on a boat. Once again it is poor design or installation that becomes the culprit.
And finally, an hydraulic steering system has got to be the simplest thing to fit an autopilot to. I fitted one small autoreversing pump beside my helm pump, taped into the two hydrailic steering feed lines and connected two wires. Done. Simple. And it hardly uses an power. It is nothing like that of a wheel pilot. The older wheel pilots I was used to, were notoriuosely hard on belts and power consumption. I don't know if todays ones have improved, but they sure needed to.
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Old 19-10-2005, 15:11   #23
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Here's what I have so far. The balanced cylinder. solution tank, saftey valves and multi-piston variable pump with locking valves.

The pump needs no power to operate. Turning the wheel transmits the energy to the cylinder. It will be 2-1/2 to 4 turns from lock to lock, depending on how I adjust the pump.

My next purchase will be the Edson Vision MV series pedestal. With a 54" dished wheel. I'll run the chain drive down thru the deck to the pump mounted under the cockpit with adjustable idlers to take up any slack in the chain. My hoses will only be 6" long easy to keep an eye on. And the tank will right next to my Navtech tank.

Wheels: Thanks for the offer but I'm going to a powerless system.

Pedistal The one on the left.

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Old 19-10-2005, 16:06   #24
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Steering

Simplicity is a rudder, gudgoens and pintles, and a tiller.
If this system has problems there is something wrong with the balance of the boat, the strength of the rudder and or the gudgeons and pintles.
Make the parts strong enough for the job, balance the boat and you will not have any problems.
Apply the same logic if you have a rudder shaft.
But the original question I believe was about preference as well.
I prefer a tiller.
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Old 19-10-2005, 19:02   #25
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As with many discussions on this board, there isn't any real consensus of opinion. It is clear to me now that the pedestal is good for attaching a table to and thereby allowing for the serving of pupu's and drinks. ROVERHI, I do think though that just simply throwing the wheel overboard after hitting harbor would be a big waste since it could be attached to a rode and used as an anchor and hence giving it some purpose in life.

Seriously though, I guess it's just personal preference and only after many hours of sailing with tillers AND wheels can one decide which they are most comfortable with. I was hoping to get a head start here since I will probably never have the opportunity to spend a lot of time on each before having to decide on a boat to purchase. So to that extent, I will not allow it to be any kind of a factor in boat selection, although I do learn towards tiller, but only after listening to the discussions here and not from any practical experience.

Thanks for all your response
Scott
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Old 20-10-2005, 00:07   #26
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Hi Delmarrey, I was refering to an electric hydraulic pump for an autopilot to control. However, I looked at the unit again last night, and it is waay to big for most vessels. It is a continuose running pump to boot, so not much use for most of us.

A comment about what you have there Del, you won't need the tank if you don't want the hassle. Because you have a balanced ram cyclinder, the oil remains at a constant level from lock to lock. The Helm pump, has an internal reservour capable of handling the small variation and expansion/contraction of oil due to temperature. This will aid you in not having to install a lot of unneccessary plumbing etc etc. Ensure the filler plug ontop of the pump has a small breathing hole in it. Otherwise, the front seal in the pump will leak.
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Old 20-10-2005, 00:07   #27
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Hi Delmarrey, I was refering to an electric hydraulic pump for an autopilot to control. However, I looked at the unit again last night, and it is waay to big for most vessels. It is a continuose running pump to boot, so not much use for most of us.

A comment about what you have there Del, you won't need the tank if you don't want the hassle. Because you have a balanced ram cyclinder, the oil remains at a constant level from lock to lock. The Helm pump, has an internal reservour capable of handling the small variation and expansion/contraction of oil due to temperature. This will aid you in not having to install a lot of unneccessary plumbing etc etc. Ensure the filler plug ontop of the pump has a small breathing hole in it. Otherwise, the front seal in the pump will leak.
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Old 20-10-2005, 01:35   #28
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Thanks Wheels but,
the tank has a sight glass and I alway like to put more oil in a system then it needs so it stays cleaner longer and I can keep an eye on the cleanlyness of the oil, especially at first for the break-in peroid and evenually I'll be taping in an auto pilot.

Plus, if it ever happens to spring a leak there'll be a little extra oil.

Cavitation is not good on hydraulics either................_/)
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Old 20-10-2005, 11:01   #29
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Hi Delmarrey

I have the same helm pump, different from the Wagner helm pump that I installed on my last cruising sailboat. Like Wheels points out I was warned to pay particular attention to that little statement in the Kobelt instructions that says the pump reservoir must be vented. That translates to not using a pressured tank or else the seals leak, so just don't put any pressure in your tank other than a few psi during purging operations.

I use a separate Hynautics pressurized tank to feed the reservoir lines of two other autopilot pumpsets.

Should be a great system.
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Old 20-10-2005, 11:12   #30
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Hey Scott!

One more comment regarding your original inquiry in this widely ranging thread: I am VERY good with a tiller and would prefer using it to exhibit the best steering skill possible. Keep that for small sailboats whilst having fun.

MOST cruisers hate to steer for long periods and when they do, especially under varying heavy wind and wave conditions, would be happier with not only a wheel but with the hydraulic system HAVING check valves which keep you from having to constantly apply load to a wheel with either weather or lee helm. There is a mistaken understanding that there is no feedback with such a system, there IS. Every time you move the wheel you feel EXACTLY what is the load WITHOUT the modulation effect caused by a friction loaded cable system. That is something you don't hear about because the detractors on this thread don't have the long experience (I'll venture) with all of these steering systems.

Regardless of whether or not you opt for hydraulics because you don't have the experience of day-after-day cruising the safest bet for you will be to get a boat with a wheel. Visualize, also, on cruising sailboats sufficiently large to be comfortable NOT being able to pass behind the helmsperson without tripping all over the tiller. The longer the tiller the more area you and your crew cannot easily pass over like when trying to bring in a large fighting dorado at the stern. Think about it.

I like 'em all yet I hate to steer for long periods....that's why Dog invented autopilots.
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