Posts Tagged ‘steering’

How to Maintain Your Boat’s Steering Cables

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

I’ve heard steering cables should be ‘maintained.’ How exactly is this done?

By keeping your boat’s steering system in proper working order you can ensure that you have reliable and proper control of your boat at all times. Lack of maintenance is the major contributor to stiff steering and in some extreme cases, cable seizure. We suggest the following periodic maintenance at least twice a year:
  1. Be certain the helm(s), cable(s), steering wheel and connection hardware are correctly assembled and in proper working order. Check for signs of stiffness, binding, excessive free play and/or wear. These items cannot be repaired; if any components are not in good working order, replace them. Disassembly of these items will void the warranty and can lead to steering failure. Always replace steering cables that are stiff in operation or have damage to the plastic jacket (outer casing).
  2. Clean and lubricate the engine tilt tube or cable support tube and the steering cable telescopic output ram as follows:
    1. Remove the steering cable(s) telescoping ram from the tilt tube.
    2. Clean the tilt tube inside diameter thoroughly.
    3. Remove corrosion in the tilt tube with a wire brush. Wipe until all loose material is removed.
    4. Lubricate the tilt tube with a good water resistant marine grease.
    5. Scour the steering cable telescopic ram with a brass wire brush and wipe until clean.
    6. Lubricate the sliding parts of the telescopic ram with a high-quality, water resistant marine grease.
    7. Reassemble, making sure all (correct) fasteners are tight and there is no binding or excessive free play in moving parts.

Please note where locking fasteners are used. Do not use non-locking fasteners; vibration can loosen them, causing steering failure.

Steering cables cannot be repaired. If the steering cable is deteriorated, does not move or operates in any manner other than correctly, replace it with the correct one for the helm. If the cable for your helm is no longer available, replace the helm, bezel and cable with an appropriate SeaStar Solutions steering kit.

What is Optimus EPS?

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

For centuries, people have been steering boats by brute force. While cable steering, and more recently hydraulics, have made steering easier, the prime mover is still the arms and hands of the skipper at the wheel. All of that is about to change with SeaStar Solutions’ revolutionary Optimus Electronic Power Steering (EPS) for twin, triple and quad outboard engine boats.

This new and innovative product was developed because boating operators continue to ask for increased comfort, lighter steering loads and car-like steering response when on the water. Optimus EPS truly raises the bar when it comes to comfort, control and maneuverability, especially for the new breed of high performance powerboats, saltwater fishing vessels, catamarans, RIBS and high end pontoon boats.

Active Sensitivity

Lock-to-lock turns and wheel effort are programmed to change with engine RPM. At slow speeds, Optimus EPS can be set to reduce the number of turns lock-to-lock, for example, 4 and make it easier to steer. When you’re negotiating through traffic or in a tight spot, those smaller moves of the wheel give you precise control. When you’re running at speed in open water, Optimus EPS can be set to increase lock-to-lock turns, for example, 6 or 7 and increase steering effort giving the driver more stability to comfortably keep on course. And through it all, Optimus EPS does the work, so you can relax and take it easy.

The Technology Behind the System

The incredible feel you get when you’re behind the wheel of a boat equipped with Optimus EPS is the result of an incredible array of technology and engineering. Each component has been designed to complement the other, resulting in a seamless experience of steering control in virtually every situation on the water. The high level of engineering also extends to the reliability of the system, with quality materials, careful manufacturing and redundant systems, all to stand up to the rigors of life on the water.

Ackerman Steering

Intelligent programming allows the Optimus EPS system to individually control the steering angle of the inner and outer outboards. This reduces the effect caused by the outside outboard “pushing” against the curve of the turn. Ackerman steering is especially important in power catamarans where the engines are located further apart.

Autopilot Interface

The Optimus EPS electronic power steering system interfaces directly with the latest generation of autopilots from Garmin, Raymarine and SIMRAD, without the need for an autopilot pump, rudder feedback unit and the lengthy installation and purging procedure.

Optimus EPS by SeaStar is the ultimate choice for your twin, triple or quad outboard engine boat and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced when it comes to steering. If you’d like to receive more information about Optimus EPS, click here  and send us your details. We’d be happy to steer you in the right direction!

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

Monday, April 14th, 2014

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.