The marine industry has developed at a great speed over recent years with some fantastic marine systems and machinery being created. We have almost become ignorant to their upkeep and their general maintenance and sometimes assume that they will simply work forever. Even though your hydraulic steering system is designed to give many years of trouble free service, at the end of the day it is a piece of machinery and machinery can go wrong! At Hy-Pro we have put together some top tips that can help prolong the life of your hydraulic steering system and keep it functioning to its optimum.
Breaking it down to the basics, your hydraulic steering system is comprised of a DC motor driven pump, steering cylinder and oil reservoir. In the ML+40 these parts are combined in one unit, on the HS+ systems they are separate and connected with hoses. Each of these components should be checked on a regular basis to ensure optimum efficiency. All of our pumps and marine steering systems are supplied with manuals which highlight the items that require inspection. Here we identify some of the most important things you can do in order to maintain your system and why each of these maintenance procedures are necessary.
What to do:
The key part of keeping your steering system in good condition is for it to have been installed in a clean and dry area free of obstructions and other equipment which will hinder regular maintenance.
Systems that are sited in wet locations or those likely to be flooded will deteriorate and corrode over time leading to premature failure.
Pumps: Hy-pro-Drive pumps are extremely reliable, the DC motor brushes being the only part that wears in use. Signs that brushes may be wearing are intermittent working or failure to work which will bring up errors on your autopilot. On older pumps the brushes can be removed and inspected and/or replaced. The latest motors are IP67 sealed so the brushes are a non-replaceable item, the complete motor being changed instead.
Steering cylinder: The piston rod is the critical part and if damaged can allow oil to leak past its seals. Check this part regularly and keep the area it is installed in free of other equipment. Lubricate the rod end if necessary with a high quality marine grade grease. Check the integrity of the bolt that connects the rod end to the tiller arm and tighten if necessary. The correct torque is specified in the user manual.
Check the condition of the electrical connector and wiring to the solenoid (clutch).
Reservoir (HS+ systems): Maintain the oil level indicated on the label. If the level drops investigate the cause. If you do need to input new oil, it is vitally important that this oil is clean as dirt can damage the hydraulic system. Check the condition of the oil. In normal use it may discolour as the moving parts wear but if there is noticeable sludge or slime in the reservoir it must be emptied, thoroughly cleaned and replenished with clean oil. Vessels that are laid up for long periods or spend a lot of time in hot and humid conditions may experience accelerated deterioration of the oil.
Hoses: Check the integrity of all connections and check for damage to the hose walls. Ensure they are not allowed to rub or chaff against any part of the vessel.
Spare parts are listed on our website and available through your nearest Hy-ProDrive distributor found here.