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Old 02-07-2020, 16:59   #1
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Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

I have a Wagner hydraulic steering system on a 1978 Spencer 1330. The system is piped with two copper lines from the steering pump to a T in the engine room, that feeds the autopilot pump and then runs under the holding tank back to the rudder ram. The section that runs from the T to the rudder ram is corroded and has a leak. The are where the leak is is under the holding tank and inaccessible. Is it appropriate to replace and reroute the section from the T to the rudder ram with hydraulic high pressure hoses?
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Old 02-07-2020, 17:23   #2
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

Sure can, but be prepared for some sticker shock after you buy those hydraulic hoses. The copper tubing would be much cheaper in the long run (and just as good) if you can somehow slide in new ones.
We also have a Wagner hydraulic system in our boat.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:08   #3
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

Thanks Bill O. The copper pipe has a number of 90degree bends in it. Any good method of bending this pipe? This was one of the reasons I was exploring flexible high pressure hose.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:17   #4
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

I have a similar Wagner setup from the early 70s. 3/4 copper pipe runs. My plan if it leaks is hydraulic hose, but before I do, I want to mount a pressure gauge. I don't think the ram is under very high pressure. If not, that would change the type of hose needed. And in my case, I don't think 3/4 is needed either considering the flexible hoses that connect to the ram are 1/2 and the helm pumps are 1/2.
I did price hydraulic hose on eBay, much cheaper than local hydraulic shops.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:32   #5
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

Usually one would avoid putting 90s into the tubing. Are there fittings at the 90s?
Most of my lines are copper tubing (not pipe) w/flare fittings and can be bent w/a basic tubing bender. Relative to heavy equipment, our hydraulic system is very low pressure and even the lowest rated hoses are over kill .
Would think you could get copper tubing in place anywhere you could slide in a hydraulic hose.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:44   #6
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
I have a similar Wagner setup from the early 70s. 3/4 copper pipe runs. My plan if it leaks is hydraulic hose, but before I do, I want to mount a pressure gauge. I don't think the ram is under very high pressure. If not, that would change the type of hose needed. And in my case, I don't think 3/4 is needed either considering the flexible hoses that connect to the ram are 1/2 and the helm pumps are 1/2.
I did price hydraulic hose on eBay, much cheaper than local hydraulic shops.
Never seen pipe used, but I believe you guys have it. Another friend has a Wagner system in a 70s Cheoy Lee and his has 1/2" tubing also.
If the hydraulic hose from ebay is cheaper than copper tubing and makes life easier, then by all means go that route.

I've had the few hoses made at the hydraulic shop and make certain they are the exact measurement I needed. Would be concerned that they may not be correct on ebay. Did you ever get them from ebay or just price them?
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:35   #7
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

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Originally Posted by billburr View Post
Thanks Bill O. The copper pipe has a number of 90degree bends in it. Any good method of bending this pipe? This was one of the reasons I was exploring flexible high pressure hose.
Just be aware. The copper tubing is not plumbing grade from the hardware store. Go to your local propane dealer and get some.
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:47   #8
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

We have dual helms in our 1985 boat and the copper fittings were so leaky and hard to work with that we ripped them out and installed hydraulic hoses. Works well, easy to maintain, not a big deal to install with the help of a good mechanic.

Hardest part was bleeding the system after having it all apart.
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:52   #9
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

Hi Bill O, the 90s are bent not fittings. In any case I contacted a local hydraulic hose supplier and he will make up a set of hoses, the right length, with the right fittings for about $180 CAD. I think Ill go with that. They will be easier to install than copper piping. Thanks all for your advice and comments.
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:57   #10
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

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Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
We have dual helms in our 1985 boat and the copper fittings were so leaky and hard to work with that we ripped them out and installed hydraulic hoses. Works well, easy to maintain, not a big deal to install with the help of a good mechanic.

Hardest part was bleeding the system after having it all apart.
What was your procedure for bleeding the system?
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Old 04-07-2020, 10:15   #11
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

The PO in my boat installed all stainless braid over teflon tubing with stainless reusable fittings. I think all this stuff was Areoequip or some such. Found in high end racing cars.
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Old 04-07-2020, 10:15   #12
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

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What was your procedure for bleeding the system?
Every system is a bit different. Below are the steps for bleeding my system. Our mechanic installed a brilliant clear bleeding hose at the manifold in the rudder area that is long enough to reach through the hatch to the upper (cockpit) helm, so when bleeding by turning the wheel at the upper helm the fluid flows through the hose from the manifold at the rudder area back into the reservoir at the upper helm and any air bubbles can be clearly seen.

The first bleed will result in micro bubbles that need to settle overnight and bled a second time, at a minimum. I ended up having to bleed @4 times before the system was completely free of bubbles. The air trapped in the rams is the hardest to remove.

Grace Hydraulic Steering Bleeding Procedure

1. Open compensation valve by rudder (big blue valve)

2. Fill reservoir (upper helm) while turning to Port/left (bleeds connection between upper and lower helm)

3. Close compensation valve

4. Open Port/SB bleed valves by rudder

5. Insert clear bleed hose into upper reservoir (route up through aft hatch)

6. Turn wheel both ways multiple times

7. Repeat steps 1-6 at least one more time until no air (micro bubbles are OK and can be bled by sitting overnight and bleeding again)

(bleed first with compensation valve open, then bleed with compensation valve closed)
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Old 04-07-2020, 10:56   #13
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

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Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
Every system is a bit different. Below are the steps for bleeding my system. Our mechanic installed a brilliant clear bleeding hose at the manifold in the rudder area that is long enough to reach through the hatch to the upper (cockpit) helm, so when bleeding by turning the wheel at the upper helm the fluid flows through the hose from the manifold at the rudder area back into the reservoir at the upper helm and any air bubbles can be clearly seen.

The first bleed will result in micro bubbles that need to settle overnight and bled a second time, at a minimum. I ended up having to bleed @4 times before the system was completely free of bubbles. The air trapped in the rams is the hardest to remove.

Grace Hydraulic Steering Bleeding Procedure

1. Open compensation valve by rudder (big blue valve)

2. Fill reservoir (upper helm) while turning to Port/left (bleeds connection between upper and lower helm)

3. Close compensation valve

4. Open Port/SB bleed valves by rudder

5. Insert clear bleed hose into upper reservoir (route up through aft hatch)

6. Turn wheel both ways multiple times

7. Repeat steps 1-6 at least one more time until no air (micro bubbles are OK and can be bled by sitting overnight and bleeding again)

(bleed first with compensation valve open, then bleed with compensation valve closed)
Thanks Grace. Unfortunately, my system has no bleed fittings. I only have a fill tube from the helm pump to a reservoir at the helm. Can this tube both fill and bubble put the air? Any other suggestions out there? Thanks
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Old 04-07-2020, 11:18   #14
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

If you need hydraulic hose, these are the best people I have ever dealt with
Wire Braided Hydraulic Hose


They can make you individual hoses with crimped on fittings and they carry a very extensive line of fittings including metric european ones and Japanese.


Prices listed per foot for the hose in the listing.


In my case I bought a roll of hose for making new hoses for my backhoe and all the crimp fittings I would need and then had a local hydraulic shop cut the hose to length and crimp on the fittings. They even provided the shop with dimensional specs for the crimps based on the hose specs. In my cases the hoses had a working pressure of 5000psi, not your typical agricultural type hoses...
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Old 04-07-2020, 12:30   #15
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Re: Hydraulic Steering System Repairs

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Thanks Grace. Unfortunately, my system has no bleed fittings. I only have a fill tube from the helm pump to a reservoir at the helm. Can this tube both fill and bubble put the air? Any other suggestions out there? Thanks
The "normal" way to bleed is to use the fill reservoir to watch for bubbles.

As you turn the wheel you are circulating the fluid and the air trapped in the fluid. Once the air reaches the highest point (the reservoir) the air will be expelled.
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