Parrothead Steering problem - SailNet Community

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Old 10-09-2006
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Parrothead Steering problem

I have a Wagoner N-50 Hydraulic steering system that had two helm stations that act independent of each other. I also have an Autohelm 7000 auto pilot that has its own pump in the system and over rides the helm pumps when turned on. The system in over 16 years old and had had less than 300 hours use in the last 16 years. After 7 days of continuous use, we had a complete steering failure and were forced to use the emergency tiller while we added fluid and purged out the air. Then next day we started having more problems and had to continue to turn the wheel to maintain a course. After we made it to the dock, I made a few calls and was told my steering ram needed to be rebuilt as the seals were giving out and allowing fluid to by pass causing the problem. I am also considering adding a T and a ball valve between the two line going into the ram so when the valve is open I can bleed the system by turning the upper helm station one direction for several turns to bleed the air from the line. After the air is bled, the valve will be closed causing the ram to stop when full right or left rudder position is reached.

Any thoughts on this repair?
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Old 10-09-2006
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After 16 years, don't forget to drain ALL of the hydrolic fluid and replace it with new. The existing fluid will have picked up moisture and contaminents. Look at the cost of new parts as opposed to rebuilds. You may find that it is not that much more for a new part. Hydrolic rebuilds on boats always make me nervous.... not because they can't be done, but because it is so hard to find someone who does them well.
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