Convert to a Hydraulic Steering System

What You'll Need
Hydraulic system kit
Engine hoist
Come-along wood
Rotary cutting tool
Hole Saw
PVC pipes

A hydraulic steering system definitely eliminates any effort you would need in maneuvering your boat. With all its added advantages, you are likely to convert your boat to such a convenience soon. Replacing your system with hydraulic system might be considered a tricky thing to do. However, you can convert to a hydraulic steering system by following these steps.

Step  1 – Remove Old Steering System

  • Disconnect all your steering cables connected to your old system.
  • Use a hacksaw to cut the cables if you wish to replace them with new ones. Ideally, your new hydraulic steering system would worjk best with new wirings.  
  • Consider getting an engine hoist if you think you would need one. Otherwise, you can use ropes and come-along woods to hoist necessary equipment.
  • Get a rag to wrap cables that have grease so they won’t get dirt on your interiors.

Step 2 – Place Hydraulic Helm

  • Check the manual of your new unit to see if you would need to drill holes to your dash. A hydraulic helm usually requires a 4 inch hole.
  • Use the template provided in your manual or draw a 4 inch hole on the plywood.
  • Use a clamp to get your plywood circle. Once you got the perfect circle, use this as a template on your dash.
  • Use a hole saw to bore the needed hole in your dash.
  • Install the helm unit as instructed by the manual.
  • Bear in mind that the helm would be heavier once it has been full of hydraulic fluid.
  • Re-install your steering wheel right after you position the helm.

Step 3 – Set Up Hydraulic Lines

Check the best places for your hydraulic lines. The areas you would choose should not support other wires or control systems. Insert the lines into PVC pipes that you would cut based on the set-up of your wire routes.

 Step 4 – Install Hydraulic Ram

Ensure that fuel lines, battery cables, shift cables and other similar wiring do not block the space for your hydraulic ram. Depending on the design of your hydraulic kit, you may need to hoist your engine again. The kit should provide you with a support rod you can get through the center section bracket. Use adapter kits in attaching the ram to the motor bracket. The engine and the ram should tilt together by this time.

Step 5 – Bleed Air Out

The hydraulic system won’t work until you get all the air out of it.

  • Check if you need any final adjustments in your line routes.
  • Connect the end of the routes to the hem and ram assembly. Be careful in setting this up so you don’t get the wrong direction (i.e. boat steers left if you steer right, vice-versa).
  • Get to the helm and remove the fill plug.
  • Invert its fluid supply to ensure that air can’t enter your system.
  • Loosen the nut for bleeding on one side of your ram.
  • Pump fluid on one side so you could get the air out on the other end of the ram.
  • Use the extension tube in collecting fluids that come out in the ram bleed hole. Repeat until no air comes out.