My Hydraulic Boat Steering Cylinder Leaks Fluids What Now?
My hydraulic steering cylinder is leaking fluids into my bilge area what should I do. This is a common problem with hydraulic outboard steering cylinders. As anything else in this world that's mechanical and in this case hydro-mechanical cylinders and their associated parts will wear out and need to be serviced, if serviceable or replaced complete. Any cylinder that is over ten years should be replaced complete including associated parts. Associated parts include, hydraulic steering helm and hydraulic hoses.
The problem with marine hydraulic steering is the environment it works in. It's used in the water period. Fresh water applications can be more forgiving than salt water environments, but at the end of the day your hydraulic cylinder will wear out. It is always best to inspect, monitor and service your cylinder with new parts, if serviceable, at any first signs of problems. Problems to look for are slow or no follow when turning steering wheel. Visual signs of fluids in bilge or splash well area of boat. Cracked hoses, loose hose end fittings. Fluids on floor under helm. These are just some of items to look for.
Normally most common problems with fluids leaking from the hydraulic cylinder are the end caps or end cap glands that retain the hydraulic fluids inside of the hydraulic steering cylinder housing. The seals inside of the glands will wear out over time. Several quick troubleshooting steps are.
1. Check all hose connecting to cylinder for correct tightness. If loose re tightened back to oem spec.
2. Makes sure all hose fittings are not damaged or hose is cracked at fittings crimped area. If any signs of wear or cracking is seen, hoses need to be replaced.
3. Check glands or end caps of cylinder housing by wiping clean, then turn engine to port/starb several times and see if fluids re-appear. In most cases it will be evident where the fluids are coming from using a visual inspection. If you find the end caps need to be serviced verify that the main stainless steel rod is not worn or pitted. There is no spec for wear or pitting.
This will cause your end cap replacement to be a waste of time and money. If you are not sure or comfortable with doing the inspection or repairs, then the best policy is to have a certified marine technician complete the troubleshoot and service the cylinder per oem spec.
If you have UC94 or UC128 hydraulic steering cylinder made by Uflex then your in luck for replacement parts. The cylinder End Caps are replaceable. Their version vs the Seastar is that after you have to remove the original end caps with a spanner wrench and the new ones do not require a spanner wrench to remove or install. All that is needed is a wrench.Once removed and new ones have been installed, bleed system according to spec and off you go. Good Luck!