Erratic Steering - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 32 Old 01-30-2019 Thread Starter
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Erratic Steering

Hello all,

I have a Bruce Roberts 44, center cockpit, ketch, that has had some steering issues. Mostly it's when under power the boat tends to wonder a lot. When I turn the wheel the turn starts slow, then turns a lot quickly, and is hard to correct. It makes the boat very touching and I'm constantly correcting it's over and under turning.

I have an old hydraulic steering system with autopilot. The steering works perfectly when using the autopilot. It's what I would call a 3/4 keel length boat so the keel runs back to the rudder, but is a little short in the front.

Can anyone tell me how I might make the boat steer more easily?

Thanks!

Last edited by mohaaron; 01-31-2019 at 02:03 PM.
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post #2 of 32 Old 01-30-2019
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Re: Erratic Steering

Both directions or only one side?

First thing to check is steering mechanics.

If that all checks out, it could be a design issue - maybe too much balance on the rudder? Roberts designs were often home built, no?
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post #3 of 32 Old 01-30-2019
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Re: Erratic Steering

Air in the hydraulics would do that. Sounds like something is moving when it shouldnt.
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post #4 of 32 Old 01-30-2019
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Re: Erratic Steering

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Originally Posted by zedboy View Post
Both directions or only one side?

First thing to check is steering mechanics.

If that all checks out, it could be a design issue - maybe too much balance on the rudder? Roberts designs were often home built, no?
Yup, no two were ever built the same. It's always a day of surprises when surveying one of those.

The hysterical laughter you hear as you drive a way in your"new" boat ..... is the seller.
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post #5 of 32 Old 01-31-2019
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Re: Erratic Steering

bleed the hydraulics, manual first then the autopilot.
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post #6 of 32 Old 01-31-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Erratic Steering

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Originally Posted by zedboy View Post
Both directions or only one side?

First thing to check is steering mechanics.

If that all checks out, it could be a design issue - maybe too much balance on the rudder? Roberts designs were often home built, no?
It does it both directions, and how would I know by looking if it could be a design issue? I don't know enough to know what too much balance on the rudder means.

Roberts are designs that can be built at home or by a hired builder. I'm pretty sure this boat was built in a Hong Kong yard. Although I don't know for sure.
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Re: Erratic Steering

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Originally Posted by PhilCarlson View Post
Air in the hydraulics would do that. Sounds like something is moving when it shouldnt.
Air in the hydraulics is possible. I have a leaky helm pump that needs to be replaced. When I do replace the steering system I have thought about replacing it with cable steering, but I'm still undecided. I might stick with a new hydraulic system. Any suggestions? I don't mind the hydraulic, but I also don't really know how a cable system feels vs the hydraulic.
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post #8 of 32 Old 01-31-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Erratic Steering

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Originally Posted by adki110 View Post
bleed the hydraulics, manual first then the autopilot.
Good thought. I think I need a helm pump that doesn't leak first. Maybe?
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post #9 of 32 Old 01-31-2019
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Re: Erratic Steering

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Originally Posted by mohaaron View Post
Air in the hydraulics is possible. I have a leaky helm pump that needs to be replaced. When I do replace the steering system I have thought about replacing it with cable steering, but I'm still undecided. I might stick with a new hydraulic system. Any suggestions? I don't mind the hydraulic, but I also don't really know how a cable system feels vs the hydraulic.
Well, from my chair a thousand miles away, that pump is almost certianly the root of the problem. Anytime it was starved, it pushed air into the lines.

Can't give you any feedback on the feel of hydraulic vs cable, I drive a tiller. However, maintaining what you have vs. replacing with something different will be less time and money consuming.
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post #10 of 32 Old 01-31-2019
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Re: Erratic Steering

Do I understand this correctly... when you turn the helm... the amount of change of the rudder position is not proportional to the amount the helm is rotated?

I am only familiar with my mechanical rod linked steering. The only way for the steering to be non proportional is if the worm gears are not properly engaging.

If this is AP steering it could be a broken AP or something interfering with the steering compass or the signal from it to the AP processor.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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