Tricks to installing a marine steering system and what you should definitely avoid

April 14th, 2014 by SeaStar | 11 Comments |

Installing a steering system into your boat can be a relatively easy and straight forward job, as long as you know and understand the do’s and don’ts. Our technicians here at SeaStar Solutions have put together some tips to help ensure your installation goes as smooth as the ride.

  • If you have an outboard or stern drive without power-assisted steering, we recommend you use either a No FeedBack (NFB) mechanical or hydraulic (SeaStar/BayStar/Hynautic) system. For boats with power-assisted steering, use HPS (mechanical) or SeaStar.
  • If you have or plan to install an autopilot, use SeaStar. Be sure you have the correct cable for the helm on the boat (or vice versa). There are several kinds of cables and helms that are not interchangeable; this is true whether the system is rotary or rack & pinion. See the steering identification guides in the front of the Mechanical Steering section of the catalog and the Steering Options based on Engine Type charts on pages 6-7.
  • Be sure you have measured properly and ordered the correct length of cable. The #1 reason for cable returns is “wrong length ordered”. See How to Measure on page 26 in the catalog.
  • Follow the installation instructions for steering products completely. This will ensure the maximum performance and reliability of the product. If the instructions are missing, contact us directly.
  • Handle the products with care and do not expose them to impact or external stress.
  • Allow for generous (large) cable bends, notably where the cable exits from the helm (or rack housing) and where the cable makes the bend to connect to the engine/drive/rudder. The tighter the bends, the stiffer the cable will tend to be in during operation. Tight bends also reduce cable life. NOTE: 8” is the minimum bend radius generally recommended for SeaStar Solutions steering cables.
  • When using tie wraps to affix the cable along the gunwale area, allow some slack (do not cinch tight). Slack in the tie wraps allows for cable flex as it is actuated and leads to smoother operation with a longer life span.
  • Replace all worn steering connection/mounting components with correct replacement parts that are designed for the application. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE PARTS.
  • If you think parts are missing from a kit, contact your distributor OR the kit manufacturer for replacements.
  • When installing the cable at the engine end, be sure to lubricate the telescopic ram (output end that slides in and out) with liberal amounts of a good, waterproof Lithium-based grease. This is ESPECIALLY critical if the steering cable is connected through the engine tilt tube as this area tends to get very dirty and corroded.
  • Do not use add-on grease fitting products designed to lubricate cables. These units can in fact force old grease, dirt and rust onto the moving internal parts of a steering cable, shortening its life.

Lastly, there is no substitute for proper cable maintenance procedures. The information we’ve provided here is a general guide, so if you do have any additional questions about our Mechanical Steering, please contact our technical support at 610-495-7011.

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11 Responses to “Tricks to installing a marine steering system and what you should definitely avoid”

  1. Nick Thull says:

    Good Morning,

    You must remove the cable from the tilt tube. As far as lubricant, please use a liberal amount of good, waterproof Lithium-based grease.

    Thanks, SeaStar Solutions

  2. David Jaeger says:

    The telescopic end of the mechanical steering cable that inserts into the tilt tube has a thin coat of dirty, dry lubricant on it when extended. I have to remove the motor in order to pull the cable out and clean the tilt tube. Is there another way to clean and relube this with the cable still in the tilt tube? What lubricant is recommended for the tilt tube?

  3. SeaStar Solutions says:

    Good Morning,

    There is a white tag on the pin that will show you how to release the cable.

    Pull the hitch pin from alongside the cable and push it in the hole.
    That will center the offset ring and you can pull on the plastic jacket of the cable to free it from that offset ring.

    Then turn the steering wheel to spin the rest of the cable free.
    I recommend you have a plastic bag handy to capture that inner core of the cable because it is covered with grease.

    Thanks, SeaStar Solutions

  4. Walt says:

    How do you “unlock” the cable from a Safe-T QC helm after it is installed? My steering wheel is not straight so I need to repeat the installation procedure. I tried pulling the pin and turning the wheel to push the cable out but that does not work.

    Thanks, Walt

  5. Tom says:

    Good day I’m restoring a 1987 Ranger 393v. I’m looking for install instructions on the helm a cable’s for a Morse dual rack & Pinion Cable System. Cable part # Red part # E300620-156 in. (13ft.) 4355. When the boat was bought parts where in seven different storage boxes. I’ve gone through and separated out all the parts by type.

    I can not find any web information as to how to install the rack steering system. Any help would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks Tom C.

  6. You can run with hydraulic and would require the following:
    – HH5271-3, helm pump, 1 ea
    – HC5370-3, side mount steering cylinder, 1 ea *requires engine mfg installed “tilt/steering tube and drag link*
    – HO51xx, Steering hoses, 1 ea
    – HA5430, Oil, 2 ea
    ____________________________

    You can use the Safe-T QC steering kit SS137xx or the recommended NFB system (Safe-T II) SS132xx if you would like to go with Mechanical (cable) steering.

    (replace xx with your steering cable length in feet)

  7. German Ramos says:

    Hi,

    I have a Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 R Remote throttle,
    Can you tell me Which one steerin system do you recommend ? Please

    Thanks

  8. Jerry,
    At this time we recommend that you check the following in the order that they appear;

    Rudder Test:
    – Disconnect the steering cylinder from the rudder arm
    – Turn steering wheel
    o If the wheel is now easy to turn the problem is likely in the rudder assembly (the rudders should move freely with the cylinder not connected)
    o If still hard go to next test
    Cylinder test:
    – Mark and remove steering lines from steering cylinder
    – Using your hands, manually try to work the steering cylinder shaft IN/OUT
    o The cylinder shaft should be very easy to move IN/OUT. If it takes any effort at all then your problem is with the cylinder and the cylinder will need to be replaced with part # HC5314-3
    o If the shaft is easy to move, please email our Hydraulic Technical Support at marc.adams@seastarsolutions.com

  9. Jerry says:

    I having a issue with my Seastar BA150-7ATM on a Silverton 35 MY, at first my steering was a little tight but truth be told it was not looking at as being a issue until my steering became almost impossible to turn, I purchased SeaStar fluid, and I attempted to see if the system needed oil, I opened the bleeder tee and I was getting fluid out , but the steering was no change. I am need to know if there is a way of telling if the piston needs to be replaced.

  10. Laurie Louvier says:

    Thanks for a great article.

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