Took her out for the first time today

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Cheapie408

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I'm about to head to the home depot to pick up the tubes. To recap on what I'm about to do

1. Hook up the two bleed valve to a T, the one side of the T goes back into the fill bottle that's attached to the helm.
2. Open port side of the valve, push the motor Port, turn the wheel starboard until my arms hurt. Close the valve
3. Open starboard valve, push motor starboard, turn the wheel port until my arms fall off, close the valve.

Sounds painful enough. :LOL:
 

Andy

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I'm about to head to the home depot to pick up the tubes. To recap on what I'm about to do

1. Hook up the two bleed valve to a T, the one side of the T goes back into the fill bottle that's attached to the helm.
2. Open port side of the valve, push the motor Port, turn the wheel starboard until my arms hurt. Close the valve
3. Open starboard valve, push motor starboard, turn the wheel port until my arms fall off, close the valve.

Sounds painful enough. :LOL:
That is not the procedure I use, and I don't believe the process you outlined would work;
1) There is no need to move, turn or touch the engine. The engine does NOT move throughout the process. Once both bleeder valves are opened, the engine won't turn; nor is it supposed to turn.
2) Once all the hoses/tubes are in place, open BOTH bleeder valves (about one and a quarter turn or so if my memory is correct).
3) Turn the wheel numerous times in any ONE direction (10, 20, 30+ times, whatever; the number is not important). Watch the bubbles returning to the fill bottle. (Also, occasionally 'Chase' the bubbles, with quick, jerking movements of the wheel).
4) Turn the wheel numerous times in the other direction (10, 20, 30+ times, whatever; again, the exact number is not important). Again watch the bubbles returning through the return tube to the fill bottle. Again, occasionally 'Chase' them as mentioned above).
5) REPEAT steps 3 and 4 as often as needed, until there are no bubbles visible in the tubes, alternating first one way, then the other. When no more bubbles are present, go to step 6.
6) Close the bleeder valves; re-install and close the helm/pump plug/cap and you are done!... disconnected all hoses.
If the procedure you mentioned was how you were first bleeding your system, it could be it was not bleeding very many bubbles?

EDIT: or, just additional info/fyi.. It took about an hour to do my system. The next one took about 30 minutes. The next one I did took 15-20 minutes; it depends on how many bubbles are present, and depends on how long the runs are (The runs are shorter, in a shorter boat! duh!). And, a system with 'extra-stuff' like autopilots, second steering stations (like mine) etc... there are more places for air bubbles to hide; it takes longer to get them all out
 
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chas650r

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whatever works! I think either way could work but 408's method is the way seastar recommends . with 408's way the volume in the cylinder is at its minimum when that side is bled so much less area to trap air. this is the way I have always done it because it makes sense when u think about it . that said with the tee back there you can keep all lines hooked up and full of fluid no matter how you go about it, no mess and no air getting back in. It also might be worth while to change the tilt angle a couple of times while everthing is hooked up to be sure the bleed port is at the top and not trapping air in the cylinder. my boat sits starboard side down just a bit where it is parked and I could see how air could be trapped away from the bleed port if the motor was not to the lock in the correct direction.
 

Cheapie408

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So I spent the last couple hours spinning the wheels again. The first hour of it was me screwing up and reintroducing air back in through the micro bubbles. The key is to shove the return line deep into the fluids and go slow. I'm certain that I have no more air. I spinner at least 100 times one way, 100 times the other, 10 to 15 times one way jerk the wheel then rinse and repeat until I see no more air no matter how hard I tried. Well, no improvements20210325_164600.jpg20210325_174412.jpg
 

chas650r

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bummer! I don't know what to think now. an issue w/ the cylinder? is there any where the lines are elevated that might be trapping air? I don't think this is possible in these small lines but we have seen the air bubbles travel up displacing the fluid in the clear tube even when the fluid is not moving. at the speed the fluid moves when bleeding I would think all the air would be forced through the hose? it would be nice to hear from others that theirs are perfect also as we have 2 bad and 1 good . I have had my motor tilted and partially turned for days now w/ very little movement so I believe my ram is good and I think my helm is good . confused!
 

Cheapie408

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Just got off the phone with Seastar support. he said you should not open both bleeders. Here's the instruction provided. I'll go out there and try again if it doesn't fix it then my the cylinder needs to be replaced.

After connecting all the necassary hose, turn the wheel clockwise to push motor port, open starboard bleeder, turn wheel counter clockwise, after confirming that there are no more air, close the bleeder port, turn the wheel counter clockwise to move the motor starboard, open the bleeder and turn the wheel clockwise.

I'm going to try this here shortly and see how it goes.

One thing to note, once you're done bleeding, turn the wheel all the way to one direction, put a tape at 12 O'clock on the wheel and turn the wheel the opposite direction, it should take no more than 5 turns to go from lock to lock position on opposite ends.
 

Andy

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Just got off the phone with Seastar support. he said you should not open both bleeders. Here's the instruction provided. I'll go out there and try again if it doesn't fix it then my the cylinder needs to be replaced.

After connecting all the necassary hose, turn the wheel clockwise to push motor port, open starboard bleeder, turn wheel counter clockwise, after confirming that there are no more air, close the bleeder port, turn the wheel counter clockwise to move the motor starboard, open the bleeder and turn the wheel clockwise.

I'm going to try this here shortly and see how it goes.

One thing to note, once you're done bleeding, turn the wheel all the way to one direction, put a tape at 12 O'clock on the wheel and turn the wheel the opposite direction, it should take no more than 5 turns to go from lock to lock position on opposite ends.
Since I am a curious person, I may try their method the next time I bleed a system; maybe it is faster (better?) or something... . Please keep in mind, the procedure I described, and the system I used works. It is NOT a procedure or system I invented; just one recommended to me by a lot of folks... If you are as curious as me watch this video (Don't cringe, it's not MY video! ☺)


The guys who developed this system were trying to find/develop/make/and sell a better (easier?) way of bleeding systems... Plus, this company has more good videos on their site and are very responsive to phone calls.
AND, if you decide to replace your hydraulic ram, search this site and learn from Warthog. (He is one of the most talented boat-fixer-persons, generous-with-his-time persons I've ever had the pleasure to learn from! (and, I would love to know the story on why he named himself Warthog)..
Warthog recommends NOT replacing the ram with a SeaStar, but instead to use U-Flex...He knows what he's talking about... I've never heard his whole life story, or how he accumulated all this boat-fixing-knowledge, but what I can tell you, from reading countless posts on this site, he knows 'his stuff'... and by the way, Warthog will verify that the U-Flex parts are totally compatible with SeaStar parts.
 

Cheapie408

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4 hours later I'm still having the same issue. I'm now convinced that my cylinder is shot. According to seastar, if the center seal is bad, I'd need to send it in. Debating if I should DIY the rebuild for $50 or send it in for $250.
 

Andy

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4 hours later I'm still having the same issue. I'm now convinced that my cylinder is shot. According to seastar, if the center seal is bad, I'd need to send it in. Debating if I should DIY the rebuild for $50 or send it in for $250.
I have no idea how much a new cylinder is (SeaStar? U-flex?)... That's a tough call.... I usually try to diy things myself first, then bite the bullet if I mess it up. 12+ years ago I replaced all the seals and 'O'-rings in the ram on our Wagner hydraulic steering system; it was a relatively easy fix; and there were no Youtube videos for help at that time; Wagner was long-time out of business. I haven't looked, but my guess is there will be someone on Youtube who has posted some help; maybe even here on CP?!
 

chas650r

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408, I agree , if you buy look into other options . but if it was me I would try the test I mentioned above for the ram unless you have reason to believe it's bad.( the tip up and turn some and let rest test) also If it does not move during the shove test I don't believe it's bad. I for one will not buy seastar due to their policy of not selling parts except to authorized dealers. did you ask how much dead band is normal? again hate to see you chase a problem that MAY be inherent in some units? from my reading previous sounds like the center seal is non replacable w/o a new ram (piston ect) assembly and for my money at that point I would go new and another maker.
 

Cheapie408

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I ordered a rebuild kit to have on hand. I'll take the thing apart to see if it's how things look. Might just order a refurb unit from boatsteer and call it a day.
 

Cheapie408

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So final update, upon resealing the cylinder and having the new helm hoses gone over and making sure everything is snug then completely purging the system I think I got it to where I'm be comfortable with accepting it has satisfactory results. I'm 95% confident that the system is air free, turning from lock to lock is about 5 1/4 turn, not quite 4.9 turn as Seastar says it to be. The steering wheel no longer moves in either lock position when i try to force it which indicates that my center seals (piston) is good and i have no leaks.

HOWEVER, for whatever reason, I still have maybe 3/8 inch movement when I do the push test of the motor towards port. the starboard side is rock hard. I believe there's a 1/4 tolerance.

Can someone explain to me what is the system doing when you try to go beyond the lock position and go back, lots of air releases from the helm? Is that new air introduced to the system or is that air in the system being purged out as well?
 

chas650r

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So final update, upon resealing the cylinder and having the new helm hoses gone over and making sure everything is snug then completely purging the system I think I got it to where I'm be comfortable with accepting it has satisfactory results. I'm 95% confident that the system is air free, turning from lock to lock is about 5 1/4 turn, not quite 4.9 turn as Seastar says it to be. The steering wheel no longer moves in either lock position when i try to force it which indicates that my center seals (piston) is good and i have no leaks.

HOWEVER, for whatever reason, I still have maybe 3/8 inch movement when I do the push test of the motor towards port. the starboard side is rock hard. I believe there's a 1/4 tolerance.

Can someone explain to me what is the system doing when you try to go beyond the lock position and go back, lots of air releases from the helm? Is that new air introduced to the system or is that air in the system being purged out as well?
the air releasing is from the fill port/ vent correct? if so this sounds like what I describe in post #59. when you go against full lock the pressure builds greatly and IF there is any thing that can flex in the system the vent will draw in air (or fluid if you have the fill bottle attached as in post #59) to make up the volume of the flex. when you come off lock the pressure drops the air pulled in releases as the flex relaxes . as I said I thought this might have been air in my system compressing under pressure because the fluid volume would change but after convincing myself I am air free it must be line flex or??.

so am I correct that you replaced the 2 ram seals where the ram exits the cylinder? what about the internal seals on the piston? my understanding was the at least some of the internal seals are not available . can you tell us more about what you did to the cylinder?
 
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Cheapie408

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the air releasing is from the fill port/ vent correct? if so this sounds like what I describe in post #59. when you go against full lock the pressure builds greatly and IF there is any thing that can flex in the system the vent will draw in air (or fluid if you have the fill bottle attached as in post #59) to make up the volume of the flex. when you come off lock the pressure drops the air pulled in releases as the flex relaxes . as I said I thought this might have been air in my system compressing under pressure because the fluid volume would change but after convincing myself I am air free it must be line flex or??.

so am I correct that you replaced the 2 ram seals where the ram exits the cylinder? what about the internal seals on the piston? my understanding was the at least some of the internal seals are not available . can you tell us more about what you did to the cylinder?
I made contact with an authorized Seastar repair center in SoCal and spoke to one of their tech to see if they can rebuild the ram. I explained to him my symptoms and he asked me to shoot a photo of the piston rod and inside of the cylinder. He told me my piston and cylinder looks good and suggested that I go over the hole system from helm to stern.

Aside from rebuilding the 2 ram seals, I also replaced the bleed valve gaskets. At the helm, I repositioned my hydraulic lines to releaf some stress, while doing so, I discovered that my fittings was not as tight as I thought it should have been so I tighten them down. The new fitting at the helm was different than the original, there was a nut that allows you to position the fitting then lock it into place. The error with my installation could have been the issue the hole time and probably caused my steering to continue spinning. With all of the above corrected, the steering wheel does not lock no longer move furthern than lock very much.
 

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