Rebuilding Vetus hydraulic steering components - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 04-24-2008
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Rebuilding Vetus hydraulic steering components

Has anyone attempted to rebuild Vetus hydraulic pumps and or the steering rams ? I've tackled automatic transmissions before with success. It just takes attention to detail and meticulous cleanliness. So I think I can do this (famous last words). It also has a lot to do with my Scotch heritage.

However I've been unable to find a source for new o rings and seals. The Vetus people are of no help at all. All they seem interested in is selling me a complete new system. Their catalog lists no spare parts. It's a shame because the shaft on the ram is in excellent condition with no pitting or scoring at all. I think the reason it's leaking is age, 15 years, and possibly the POB putting any old kind of fluid in the system.
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Old 04-24-2008
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I have an old Vetus hydraulic system - REALLY old (36 years and counting). I did not rebuild it myself, but I did give it to Baltimore Hydraulics (Baltimore Hydraulics - hydraulic service and repairs) and they rebuilt both the pump and the ram. They had to source specific gaskets somewhere and apparently were successful at that - so if you want to do the job yourself, I can only suggest calling them, asking for parts department and then talking to them about sources.

If you feel like spending money, I am sure they will do the job for you as well, but it ain't cheap at all (though still a LOT cheaper than a new system, which wouldn't fit anyway)
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Old 04-25-2008
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I have a Marol hydraulic system and one container of clear oil called "AT-22" or something similar. I haven't had a lot of luck sourcing this, and the previous owner apparently had trouble finding the single bottle he left with me.

Is there a general purpose hydraulic steering oil or does it have to be super-specific to brand/model?

Marol exists, but they are primarily commercial marine, not little steel yachts.
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Old 04-25-2008
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No spare parts, for a system costing how much?
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Old 04-25-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
I have a Marol hydraulic system and one container of clear oil called "AT-22" or something similar. I haven't had a lot of luck sourcing this, and the previous owner apparently had trouble finding the single bottle he left with me.

Is there a general purpose hydraulic steering oil or does it have to be super-specific to brand/model?

Marol exists, but they are primarily commercial marine, not little steel yachts.
I found an excellent (and cheap) hydraulic fluid for my system Anything MIL SPEC 5606 (which is now a retired mil spec, but still used all over aviation for hydraulic components) is a great fluid. I buy mine at a local gen. aviation airport hangar - they have it in 1 gallon metal cans and last time I bought one for $25 I beleive (which is a lot better than unknown junk that Teleflex sells for twice that much for a 1 quart).

Here it is online: Aeroshell Fluid 4 MIL-H-5606A Mineral Hydraulic Oil (1 Gallon)* - SkyGeek.com , only slightly more expensive.
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Old 04-25-2008
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Originally Posted by Rockter View Post
No spare parts, for a system costing how much?
The lowest power new hydraulic pump by vetus goes for about $2000, smallest ram - somewhere in a vicinity of $1000 or so. Decent system is more expensive. In my case, older Vetus pump is kinda equivalent to what they now sell as "commercial" which is $10000 total for the system.

At that price, even custom-made replacement parts would be worth it. Amazingly, Vetus is absolutely useless in terms of supporting their equipment. I had to learn a lot about hydraulics to maintain mine (but it's probably a good thing)
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Old 04-25-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brak View Post

Here it is online: Aeroshell Fluid 4 MIL-H-5606A Mineral Hydraulic Oil (1 Gallon) - SkyGeek.com , only slightly more expensive.

Thanks for the tip...a gallon would last me a few years! I am hearing that people use everything from ATF red stuff to 10W30, so I'm not getting clear answers other than "make sure it doesn't eat the seals". OK, I'll get right on that...

EDIT: Bingo! I called Marol Marine in Florida and a tech there said that this is the right stuff. Now, apparently it's been superseded (but is still the MIL-H-5056 spec) by something called AeroShell Fluid 41 which I can get at the local airport for eight bucks a quart. For the record, a quart will probably do me for three seasons.

Thanks for the info!

Last edited by Valiente; 04-25-2008 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 04-26-2008
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$10,000 and no spare parts????
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Old 04-26-2008
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Originally Posted by Rockter View Post
$10,000 and no spare parts????
Perhaps for brand new systems. Certainly not for mine. The problem is - Vetus has no service department in US. They only have a sales office (which I actually visited) and that's it. They appear to be Dutch (though some parts used to be made in UK, don't know what that means). So, even if there was service, it would have to be done by sending anything overseas. However, it also appears that they now target an extremely upper-end market, presumably the kind of people that would just replace the whole steering system or engine if they need a new gasket In any case, they are certainly uninterested in supporting their older equipment - I spoke at length with their office about that and the bottom line is, they are all sales guys.
Talking to Vetus in Europe directly does not help much, they are also uninterested in US consumers and essentially only refer you to US office or tell you that "if you send items here it will take very very long time, lots of money and we may not be able to fix it".

This is unfortunate - most maritime companies would at least make an effort (for appropriate compensation, nobody expects them to work for free). Personally, I wouldn't choose any new Vetus parts if I ever needed to. This was one more reason I decided to maintain the current system instead of installing a new one. I would be not much better off after tens of thousands of dollars sunk into it - if anything breaks. Well, one thing would be better - mounting holes would match during install
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Old 04-26-2008
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Boy! am I glad I took the time to post on this forum. Great response from all. Makes me feel a lot better about my negative experience dealing with Vetus here in Florida. I thought maybe I hadn't dug deep enough or talked to the right people. I just found it hard to believe that a company as large as Vetus, that blankets the boat supply business; they have everything for boats, from soup to nuts, wouldn't support their products. Which incidentally are very pricey.

Anyone who buys and installs anything from Vetus is just shooting them self in the foot. I guess I'll take a shot at rebuilding the ram. Can't leak much worse than it does now. Lucky for me, my Nimble also has tiller steering and visibility from the inside helm isn't so great anyway.
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