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Rubber hose will give a spongy feel, and 40 ft. of hose is excessive. If the hydraulic pump has internal problems, it should show up as hard and unresponsive steering. Air in the system would cause sponginess. However, the presence of sponginess implies considerable hydraulic pressure. I would want to know the actual max pressure available from the steering pump, and then apply a safety factor (usually a multiple, but I do not know what is customary for this application). Soft copper tubing is usually inappropriate material for higher pressure hydraulic applications. The use of multiple lengths of rigid piping interconnected by short lengths of high-pressure rubber hose may be a safer approach, unless you know that the copper tubing's pressure spec at least doubles (triples?) the pump's capability. The use of AN fittings could help with the angles/offsets if rigid piping is required.
I would replace the hose first, and then investigate the pump, etc. Just my thoughts, which are based on knowledge of hydraulic systems and not your boat's steering system.
Last edited by jones2r; 12-29-2006 at 08:44 PM.