SeaStar Hydraulic Steering Issues

Discussion in 'Downeast Engine Room' started by duxbait, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. duxbait

    duxbait Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Posts:
    698
    Likes Received:
    183
    Occupation:
    Fisherman
    Location:
    Duxbury MA
    A little bit of an intro:

    I bought an outboard center console from a good friend who had fished the boat hard, but then let it sit for 4 or 5 years without running. When I got the boat, the Seastar Helm would not turn in either direction. I assumed that the check valves where stuck open, so that pressure would be applied to both hydraulic lines at once making the steering "frozen". Due to a bit of a time crunch I bought a new helm unit, purged the lines and filled it up with fresh fluid. This worked well for me for the first year and a half.

    Last fall I started having issues with the steering not tracking strait, the engine would slip while the wheel remained still. I would have to turn the wheel to port constantly to fight the pull of the prop. I thought that the gaskets on my cylinder where the cause, so I replaced those and didn't have any improvement. Today I checked the system for any air in the lines, as well as discolored hydraulic fluid. The Fluid was air free, but there was some discoloration to the fluid.

    Anyone ever have a similar issue with these units? I'm thinking it must be a check valve in the helm again, that is not holding pressure against resistance. Has anyone rebuilt one of these units themselves? Seastar has not been of much help.
     
  2. junkman

    junkman Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Posts:
    74
    Likes Received:
    27
    I rebuilt one, just be careful when you open it up, there are like 9 pistons that are spring loaded in a circle. Not rocket science, once you have it apart it will be obvious what's wrong.
     
  3. Bill

    Bill Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Posts:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    2,025
    Location:
    Crow Point, Ma
    Boat Make:
    27 Terry Jason
    Seth I wouldn’t pull it apart if it’s a year old I would be on seastars case. I pulled one apart once and it was like a jack in the box when you get the nuts off the casing it pops open and springs go everywhere (i wasn’t ready for that). Maybe try replacing the cylinder or lines instead if color of fluid has changed
     
    Bill,
  4. El Mar

    El Mar Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2011
    Posts:
    6,436
    Likes Received:
    2,222
    Location:
    Westbrook, CT (The Asshole State)
    Boat Make:
    43 Tiara Open DDEC, Grady white 268 Islander 250 OX66, 15 Boston Whaler Sport ETec 60
    Did you replace the ram too or just the helm?

    Sounds like the center o-ring in the ram is bad.
     
  5. leaky

    leaky Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2014
    Posts:
    1,804
    Likes Received:
    556
    Location:
    NH
    I've been running a unit for 15 years which was off a junk engine at the time, and knock-on-wood the only problem I ever had was an o-ring went on the helm at one point which caused a drip here and there, initially fixed with a hardware store o-ring, eventually the right part showed up..

    What you are describing to me does sound like a helm problem but it could also be something going on in the cylinder I do not understand, ie a way for fluid to bypass the cylinder without leaking out..

    Do you know anyone who is often around junk boats? Helms are a dime a dozen usually in the realm of good used boat parts, they typically last forever in practical terms and often are mounted in a place where they are not really subject to corrosion. I'd check Ebay or look for a used (or free) one.

    If you go thinking about replacing the helm again, if it was me anyway, I'd probably bite the bullet and would buy the whole helm + cylinder kit, believe things are cheaper that way and you know anything problematic is getting replaced in one sweep & warrantied. What size engine are you turning? If it's below a certain HP you only need the baystar one, which is cheaper too.

    I guess I should add too - if I went with a kit I'd take the effort to replace the lines, whole deal - for you to be having problems already, and given you had problems initially with something that nearly never fails, it's possible you got some contamination in your system. My fluid always stays clear after probably 1500 hours on it.

    Jon
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  6. junkman

    junkman Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2017
    Posts:
    74
    Likes Received:
    27
    There is a boat junk yard in Quincy at the fore river rotary Continental Marine, Read st. Maybe try them for a used unit. 617 479 5799 I think that's the #.
     

Share This Page