Steering is "Slipping"

Discussion in 'Sport Yachts/Yachts' started by Sua Sponte, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. Sua Sponte

    Sua Sponte Member

    97
    Apr 20, 2008
    Cleveland Yacht Club
    500 Sundancer 1997, 2nd Gen Furuno Electronics in '08
    Cat 3196 TA's @ ~700 HP EA
    Have a weird problem that has gotten progressively worse over the past season.

    When under way, there are times when the steering just totally does not work. At all. I can be zipping along on plane and turn the wheel three or four complete rotations with no effect (with the auopilt disengaged). I have a rudder indicator on the autopilot that shows me that the rudders are not responding. My electronic rudder indicator sensor is on the starboard rudder and seems to be working fine.

    The thing is, if I click on the autopilot, it works perfectly with no issues at all. I can steer the boat perfectly with the autopilot engaged by using the click/chirp knob.

    Anyone have any troubleshooting tips before I start tearing everything apart? Could this be a steering pump issue (mine is on my starboard engine)? My immediate thought is that since the autopilot works fine, the pump is OK...is that a faulty assumption?

    What should I be looking for? I searched the forums with "steering slipping", "steering cables", and a couple others with no luck....help?
     
  2. Carver370

    Carver370 Active Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Buffalo Michigan
    1994 Carver 370 Motoryacht
    Twin Crusader 454 - 350 HP Each.
    Is there a fill at the base of your steering wheel?
     
  3. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    At the top of this page, click on "HOME" scan down to the articles and read the first one. It describes the way your steering system works and one possible cause for your problem.

    However, from your description, it sounds like your problem may be a bad helm pump. Do as Carver370 says, check the fluid level at the fill hole in the helm pump. If it is full, the helm pump is by-passing fluid. If the level is low, then look for the leak. Start with the ram near the transom as the article describes.
     
  4. Sua Sponte

    Sua Sponte Member

    97
    Apr 20, 2008
    Cleveland Yacht Club
    500 Sundancer 1997, 2nd Gen Furuno Electronics in '08
    Cat 3196 TA's @ ~700 HP EA
    Thanks guys. I will check that out and report back.
     
  5. hemibird

    hemibird New Member

    96
    Jan 24, 2010
    Huntington Beach, California
    1982 36' Sea Ray Vanguard sportfisher, auto pilot, gps, everything
    Twin 3208 turbo
    Sheesh.....you and me both. I have the same problem. I have to constantly keep power steering fluid on my flybridge to keep my steering working. I have no fluid leaking on either station or at the stern. I have NO idea where the fluid is going. 3 mechanics shrug their shoulders unable to find steering fluid.....has David Coperfield asking where the fluid is.
     
  6. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    The most usual place for losing hydraulic oil is the ram. In "mystery" cases, look carefully at the ram as the steering wheel is turned from lock to lock several times. The ram that goes in and out of the cylinder gets pitted and eventually wears or cuts the seal. At first t he leak is slow you you only find it by wiping the ram with a clean paper towel as it is moved. The reason you don't see a pool of oil in the boat is most likely because the drip falls into a bilge sump and is pumped overboard with bilge water.
     
  7. tdschafer

    tdschafer Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2009
    Long island , NY
    1997 330 sundancer
    twin 454's, Carb, V-Drives
    I had the same problem. I bought the boat in Feb '09. All last season I was filling the hydraulic fluid reservoir on the steering column. The same thing in the beginning of this season. My mechanic checked everywhere to no avail, no leaks. Then it stopped! My steering has been fine for the rest of this season. The only thing we can think of is that the PO of my boat installed autopilot in the end of the summer of '08. Possibly we were still working air out of the system all the way from the stern where the autopilot was installed?:huh:
    Todd
     

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