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Old 17-05-2021, 11:37   #1
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Air in hydraulic steering ???

I likely should not post this question as the answer may be obvious BUT - just to confirm my suspicions:
Is it likely that a slight (very slight) drip in the plumbing between my help pump (wheel / binnacle - highest point) and the rudder located RAM can introduce air into the system ?
Elderly Maple Leaf-48
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Old 17-05-2021, 11:47   #2
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Do you have a Wagner system (older Canadian boat on west coast = likely)?

YES, a leak in system can cause this problem. Can you find where it is?

When you top up and then exercise wheel fully port<-->stbrd many times, does this solve issue (at least temporarily)?
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Old 17-05-2021, 12:07   #3
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Agree w/the previous post and say yes it can allow air into the line.

Is the drip from a union fitting or is it from a hole in copper tubing? If its a hole in the tubing, would try to cut out the bad section to repair, then bleed.

Any leaks at the helm pump?
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Old 17-05-2021, 12:23   #4
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

THANKS. YES. Wagner Steering (installed on Paul Wagner's 1973 WindLass). Test results are confused by RAM seals being replaced just before becoming aware of an air problem .
I installed a sight-gauge (transparent hospital syringe plumbed to the top of the help pump).
I top up the syringe and pump it into the system with MANY lock-to-lock turns of the wheel. Air is then seen to bubble out out. In the morning the syringe if full again and overflowing onto the deck. Do it again = same thing three mornings in a row. Today I will see how it went over the weekend.
Drip appears associated with the (original) auto pilot pump. I plan to bypass all autopilot plumbing ...
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Old 17-05-2021, 12:29   #5
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

[IMG]cid:74776D5E-5377-412A-A4CD-6932E120A1D9@telus[/IMG]
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Old 17-05-2021, 13:17   #6
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainforest View Post
[IMG]cid:74776D5E-5377-412A-A4CD-6932E120A1D9@telus[/IMG]
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Old 18-05-2021, 16:52   #7
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

While not familiar with the system, the short answer is 'yes' if the leaking line is not under constant pressure.
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Old 19-05-2021, 09:17   #8
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Thanks everyone.
Leak appears to be associated with plumbing to the autopilot pump.
I no longer use autopilot so I will go ahead and bypass it along with the "Helm Control". Hopefully, problem solved.
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Old 19-05-2021, 09:37   #9
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainforest View Post
Thanks everyone.
Leak appears to be associated with plumbing to the autopilot pump.
I no longer use autopilot so I will go ahead and bypass it along with the "Helm Control". Hopefully, problem solved.

Do you have the separate "helm control valve" w/your Wagner helm pump? We have one w/our Wagner "sailing" helm pump that has no return/lock valves in it. Somewhat unusual setup for a hydraulic steering system that can allow full rudder feedback back to the wheel when positioned in the sail setting. We rebuilt ours w/viton o-rings a few years back when we rebuilt our steering system.
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Old 19-05-2021, 09:53   #10
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Temperature can also cause confusion and leaks. Oh a previous boat if the sun was shining on the helm all day the pressure would build and we would loose a teaspoon from the helm unit. At night it would cool down and suck air in.

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Old 19-05-2021, 10:00   #11
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

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Temperature can also cause confusion and leaks. Oh a previous boat if the sun was shining on the helm all day the pressure would build and we would loose a teaspoon from the helm unit. At night it would cool down and suck air in.

Pete
But we all know that the sun never shines all day here on B.C.'s coast!

(That's why we have places with Greenland-like names such as the "Sunshine Coast".)
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Old 19-05-2021, 10:07   #12
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Really, that's terrible why do you live their? Even in the UK we get one day a year. It's a Tuesday this year, just not sure which one.

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Old 20-05-2021, 12:15   #13
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

I'm thinking that bypassing the Helm Control and TEEs to the autopilot pump can most easily be done with hydraulic hose. Needs ~3 ft for each side. Hoses will route across a bulkhead in the engine room. Easy to get at.
QUESTION is:
1) Is the hose a good idea ?
2) Will the hose flop about when under pressure to turn the rudder ?
3) Will ordinary clamps be sufficient to hold the hose in place when under pressure ?
Was surprised. Cost of each 3 ft 1/2" hydraulic hose with 1/2"Imperial male flares pressed on is only C$30.00
.
Last kick at the cat ???
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Old 20-05-2021, 12:18   #14
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

The 1/2" copper plumbing on both sides of the parts needing bypass are fixed. The do not move. They are at different elevations.
THANKS everyone ...
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Old 20-05-2021, 12:53   #15
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Re: Air in hydraulic steering ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainforest View Post
I'm thinking that bypassing the Helm Control and TEEs to the autopilot pump can most easily be done with hydraulic hose. Needs ~3 ft for each side. Hoses will route across a bulkhead in the engine room. Easy to get at.
QUESTION is:
1) Is the hose a good idea ?
Hose should be fine, if it's hydraulic hose rated for the system pressure (or higher). Also, make sure the hose is compatible with the fluid in your system.

Quote:
2) Will the hose flop about when under pressure to turn the rudder ?
Depends on the length and flexibility of the hose, and whether it is cycling from pressurized to non-pressurized. How much 'flop' is dependent on the pressure differential.

Quote:
3) Will ordinary clamps be sufficient to hold the hose in place when under pressure ?
Tough one. First - what is an 'ordinary' clamp. Second - how is it attached/secured, and to what? Third - how much pressure change is there? Generally speaking, hydraulic hoses are not clamped because they flex, expand and contract. This causes wear at the clamp and over time, failure.

One suggestion might be to wrap the hose with a sacrificial material, then wrap the material with duck tape. Tie the biggest line/cord you can to the wrapped area, and secure the other end such that it keeps the hose more or less where you want it. Add checking the hose/wrap/line to your monthly to-do list for the first season. If it's holding up, check it semi-annually/annually.


Quote:
Was surprised. Cost of each 3 ft 1/2" hydraulic hose with 1/2"Imperial male flares pressed on is only C$30.00
Yeah, hydraulic hose isn't too pricey, and hose shops are generally easy to find, unless you're way out in the boonies.

Another idea is to up-size your hose, say to 3/4", and use reducing fittings/adapters to attach. A larger hose will generally move less than a small one. Down side is - extra connections (we call them leak points), cost for a bigger hose and adapters
.
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Last kick at the cat ???
Do not kick the cat! She already bites!
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