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  #1  
Old 01-30-2009
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How to bleed hydraulic steering?

I had replacements made for all 4 hoses on my Teleflex hydraulic steering. The boat is a Formosa 51. All the hoses had "aneurysms" and I figured it was only a matter of time before failure. Now I am trying to figure out how to bleed the air out of the lines and rams. I can't figure out how to do it since both rams are dual action. If anyone has experience/advice it would be appreciated.
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Old 01-30-2009
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I have ususally been able to get most of the air out of the system by just turning the helm pumps back and forth a bunch of times. You need to check the fluid level while doing this and add to keep from pumping more air back in. If you have high spots in the lines you may need to crack some fittings loose to release air that can't get back to the pump. If possible fill the cylinders with fluid before you hook up the hoses. Hopefully someone else has an easier way, it can take a while to get all the air out if you have long runs or more than one helm station.
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Old 01-30-2009
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for the first rough bleed, you have to open "bleed valves" on the hydraulic ram, and then turn the wheel until air stops coming out. that will get the major bubbles out, but the system will still have enough to be "soggy". There are all sorts of contraptions that promise to suck the air out (connecting to bleed ports on the ram and to the fill port), but it really does not seem possible to me to fully bleed the system that way. On mine, bleed valves would re-admit some air back in when open by their very nature.

After a primary bleed I usually let it stand for a while, so that air would move upwards towards the steering pump. then, just turn steering all the way to one side and another, alternating - depending on your setup the air would escape from the fill port. My hoses run fairly level, and having a boat sway a bit (at anchor or some such) helps shuffle air around Or just shake the hoses by hand if they are rubber or plastic.

Initially I had a funnel with hydraulic fluid fitted to fill port and bubbles escaped into funnel, while fluid went into the system. Since I added a small reservoir, bleeding seems to have become unnecessary - air just moves upwards into the top of reservoir on its own, all I have to do is top it off may be once a season (though it only had been a season since I installed it).
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Old 01-31-2009
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A couple of years ago I helped my mechanic to bleed the hydraulics after a ram service and he got me to spin the wheel first one way with a bleed valve open, then he closed that valve and opened another one & I spun the wheel the other way. We did this 3 or four times until only hydraulic fluid came out. Has worked fine for the last two years. Definitely a two person job.

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Old 01-31-2009
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Not all rams have bleed valve so you may have to crack the union on one line at the ram and have someone turn the wheel back and forth (full cycle) and fill the helm pump at the same time. The second person must remain at the ram and tighten the nut when air ceases to bubble out. Crack the other nut at the ram and repeat. This can take five minutes or 1hr. depending on length and angle of lines. You may have to go back to the first nut on the ram and repeat one time. I just installed a new hydraulic system by myself and it was a major bitch running back and forth from the helm to the ram.
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