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Old 31-05-2008, 00:46   #1
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Sticking steering

I have hydraulic steering on my boat. When turning to port or starboard, it binds up at about 23 degrees on both sides.
I added hydraulic oil to the system thru a tube in the binnacle and the turn to port was much improved. The turn to starboard if done from amidship still binds up but if a turn is started from hard to port to hard to starboard, it turns fine. The turns back to amidship work just fine. It only happens on the hard over not the turn back to amidship.
Any suggestions?
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Old 31-05-2008, 01:10   #2
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Firstly, ensure you are using the correct oil. Has this issue just started, or has it been after you have done something to it? The correct oil is essential. Some systems will seize with the wrong oil.
The next thing and the most likely cause, is a blockage. You may want to give the system a complete oil flush. It is quite possible something foreign is blocking a port inside the helm unit. It would only take a very small piece of grit to lock the system. By putting oil into one side, you may have flushed it down the line somewhere. It could come back. A good flush through and replace with new oil may solve the issue.
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Old 31-05-2008, 09:30   #3
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Why only sometimes?

I'm not sure why it binds up if turned from midships to starboard but not if turned from hard to port and back to hard to starboard. I've checked the arms at the rudder post and they are clear. The problem start back in September when we moved the boat from Seattle area to Newport. Had to motor all the way down as no wind. Previous owner says he never had the problem. If a blockage, shouldn't it bind everytime I turn the wheel, not just sometimes?
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Old 31-05-2008, 10:21   #4
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You said you added oil and that helped on one side. Are there any oil leaks? You may have air trapped in the system. This would require you to bleed the system which is probably the easiest place to start after trying the suggestion below.

Try disconnecting the hydraulic ram (or if you have a bypass valve, open that) and turning the rudder by hand to see if there is a bind in the rudder mechanism itself.
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Old 03-06-2008, 15:02   #5
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update on further investigation

I pulled the bunk off in the stern compartment and removed the boards and stuck my head down into bilge by the rudder post.

When the wheel is turned, the rudder post moves slightly up and down--a fraction of an inch as it goes across the arc and binds at 23 degrees. Again--if turned from hard to port to starboard, it goes fine but if it is from midships, it might bind--not all the time and the post goes up just slightly and then it finishes the arc of the turn. The clamp on the post moves ever so slightly during its movement. I'm going to tighten it up and see if that makes any difference. The hydraulics appear to be fine

Any suggestions? Don't want the rudder falling off.
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Old 03-06-2008, 15:11   #6
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Quote:
Don't want the rudder falling off.
Thats for sure. Sounds like its time to overhaul the rudder bearings and while at it I suggest you very carefully inspect the whole steering system. Without knowing the configuration of your rudder its hard to say more.
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Old 03-06-2008, 15:33   #7
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Thoughts?

I'm in Newport, OR. A fishing town--not too sailer friendly or knowledgeable. We're heading to Port Townsend later this month for a bit of refitting. What's your thoughts as to the safety of such a trip with the rudder acting like this. It did it all the way down. Better to motor--less stress on the rudder than sailing?
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Old 03-06-2008, 16:05   #8
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Well I'm pretty safety oriented and would not leave the dock without knowing exactly what was causing the problem. Without knowing that it's impossible to say. Maybe you have some growth or a piece of line jammed in your rudder under the water. Check it out and if in any doubt have a pro look at it. Could be serious.
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Old 03-06-2008, 19:31   #9
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Found it!!

I took out the stern bunk and crawled down to the rudder post and had the "Admiral" turn the wheel. Back and forth it went. Then it bound up--again at 23 degree to starboard. Then it broke free and completed the turn to the stop. I just kept watching it turn. The bracket(lack of a sailing term) that turns the rudder post kept jumping up as it hit that degree. I tried to tighten the bolts on the above mentioned bracket and turned it again. Again, it bound up and then raised itself by about 1/8" and completed the turn. I stuck my head down farther and saw the problem. The rotating arm was hitting the top of the bolt that holds the entire bracket for the steering assembly in place and bumps it up. The port bolt had more wear on it which was why it didn't bind up so much on that turn. If I file down the top of the bolt just a bit, it should swing just fine. At least it wasn't a more serious problem.

Thanks everybody for their help.
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Old 03-06-2008, 20:08   #10
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But why was it hitting the bolt? Did the tiller arm slip down the shaft? Did the whole rudder assembly slip down? Why would you need to file a bolt down after all these years? Something has changed I think, now it's up to you to find out what...<gr>
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Old 03-06-2008, 20:30   #11
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A bushing or a spacer broke out.
Look way, way down.
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:04   #12
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Yup. Make SURE you find out why it's all of a sudden doing this - a bump on the rudder could have damaged something.
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Old 04-06-2008, 13:40   #13
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More info

As I looked at the setup under the bunk, the arm that turns the rudder post doesn't appear to be that tight to the post. It has some give up and down. The bolts on both sides show wear where the paint that was on them has been worn off over many turns of the wheel. This does not appear to be a new problem. I've only owned the boat since last August and have logged very few miles on her. Birch Bay WA to Newport, OR is about the extent so far and it has done it since we left Birch Bay. Previous owner doesn't remember it doing it so I don't know how long it has been happening but the bolts on both side have been run over enough to show a rounding of one side of the head of each bolt-both port & starboard. I think it would take quite a bit of turning to accomplish this wear.

As a newbie to this size of boat, (previous one was only 26 feet) what holds the rudder on? I've googled it and get nothing back. I'm used to the gudgeon and pintles type of setup. Am I safe to undo the steering clamps that ride up and put in shims to make it tight to the rudder post so that when tightened it will stay up where it belongs?

We plan on having it serviced once in Port Townsend later this month along with a bit of other stuff--like new rigging. At 26 years, it's time for it to be replaced.
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Old 04-06-2008, 14:10   #14
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A couple of pictures might help. Don't assume that the rudder wont fall out if you loosen something until you know for sure that it wont.

Okay, I see it has a skeg so if the bottom bearing is solid then the rudder wont fall out. The rudder shaft sits in the bottom rudder bearing/mount that attaches to the skeg.
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Old 04-06-2008, 14:15   #15
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There is a Liberty 458 group that might have more answers for you .
One more thing, there should be absolutely no play between your tiller arm and the rudder shaft.

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