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Hydraulic Steering Systems FAQ’s

Hydraulic Steering Cylinders
What are the new -3 cylinders all about?

The -3 cylinders mount the exact same as the older ones, have the same volume and output. We have gone to a fully anodized aluminum parts, and to ORB hose fittings in the cylinder body.

I continue to wear out seals, or the seals that I have previously installed?

There are several reasons why seals will leak, even after a repair has been made previously.  The most common fault is a damaged steering cylinder shaft, or, an installation that is not done properly, leading to more stress on a seal.  To ensure that your cylinder is re-sealed correctly we recommend contacting one of our Authorized Repair Centers to assist with the repair. Authorized Repair Centers

I just re-rigged with new engine(s), can I re-use my old cylinder? If so, what is the part number for the extension plates?

SeaStar Solutions does NOT make engine extension plates for any engine newer than a 2004. If your current cylinder is an HC5340, HC5340-42 or an HC5342, you will need to update the steering cylinder and tiebar with current models. Please see “Outboard Section”

When should I use the Outboard Tournament Cylinders?

If your boat is driven in an aggressive manor, used in tournaments, then you should be using the tournament cylinders. Please go to the SeaStar Outboard section for further information

I need to convert my outboard pivot cylinder into a different model, how do I do this?

This type of conversion is to be completed by one of our repair centers only.  Please visit our Technical Support area for a list of authorized repair centers. Authorized Repair Centers

What causes the outboard front mount cylinder seals to leak?

I find that almost all the time, the support rod is ready to seize up in the tilt tube, because someone has failed to clean and grease it. Please do this at least ONCE a year, it WILL save you money.

I read that there is a PRO cylinder being offered by SeaStar? What is this?

You are right. SeaStar PRO cylinder has better seals and bushings to reduce wear caused by the higher horsepower engines. No worries, the old cylinder is still adequate.

I have a brand new HC5345 but I need a different cylinder for my engine, what do I do?

Please contact us via e-mail to find out your options. Do not try to make the cylinder fit.

Can I use power purge jr. with dual cylinders?

Yes. you will need to purchase kit #HA5461. It comes complete with instructions.

Hydraulic Steering Power Assist
I keep blowing fuses in my SeaStar Power Assist System, what can I do to cure this?

Part # HA1206 can be ordered to cure this. This is a 50A, MAXI fuse. NOTE: All current Power Assist Units utilize this same, MAXI fuse

I just saw a product called DC Power…what is that?

This DC Power will replace the conventional, engine driven power steering that you see on large boats. Contact SeaStar Solutions for more information.

My “INBOARD” boat is very hard to turn at higher speeds, will the SeaStar Power Assist cure this?

In short “Maybe”. Your steering system may be undersized, this requires much more effort to turn the wheel. SeaStar Power Assist will “help”, however if the cylinder is undersized your best option may be to increase the size of the cylinder providing more “force” to move the rudder(s) over.

My “OUTBOARD” boat, with triple engines is very hard to steer, what can I do?

Power Assist is your best option. Engines have become much heavier, have a much higher output and much more torque than previous, SeaStar Power Assist will make your steering very easy to turn, regardless of the horse power.

Hydraulic Steering General
Can I add a second steering station to my BayStar steering system?

No. BayStar is a single engine single station steering system.

Who can rebuild my Hydraulic Steering parts (SeaStar Solutions, Haynutic or Capilano)?

We only recommend that one of our Authorized Repair Centers perform any repair work on our products. Authorized Repair Centers

I want to repair my Hydraulic Steering product, does the factory do repairs?

In most cases YES. We are the factory so a turn around time cannot be guarenteed. Please see next question for other repair partners.

Can I use my master spoke or centered steering wheel with a SeaStar system?

Due to a small amount of internal hydraulic slip these style steering wheels should not be used. For best results use an equal distance wheel.

Outboard hose is too long, can I cut it down?

NO! You CANNOT cut SeaStar outboard hoses. Take up the slack under the dash, or anywhere else, once that hose is cut, it is garbage.

Who can work on my Hydraulic Steering?

For service work, any “qualified” marine technician should be well trained in the service of your system.  For repairs of hydraulic components we only recommend that you contact one of our Authorized Repair Centers. Authorized Repair Centers

I notice that unbalanced cylinders (like the HC5370-3 outboard side mount) have a different number of turns to hard over in each direction. Why is this so?

The answer is in the design of an unbalanced cylinder.

When the helm is turned one turn, a certain volume of fluid is pumped into the cylinder.

On one side of an unbalanced cylinder piston is a rod, which reduces the effective cylinder volume.

The cylinder area on the other side of the piston has no rod, thus more volume available for fluid pumped in from the helm.

The piston side with the rod will move farther per turn of the wheel (less turns to hard over) because less space is available for the fluid than the side with no rod.

A balanced cylinder has a rod on each side of the piston, so will move equally to either side per wheel turn to that side.

(See diagrams below.)


I am upgrading to SeaStar steering, but have discovered that the new helm won’t cover the holes left by the old one. What should I do?

That depends on what was in the boat originally:

a. If you are upgrading from SeaStar Solutions rotary mechanical steering (Safe-T, Big-T or rotary NFB), pre-1991 SeaStar (with square mounting flange) or SyTen, you will need to purchase a HA5418 Back Plate Kit. This will cover the old holes and provide extra dash rigidity.

b. If you are upgrading from SeaStar Solutions Rack & Pinion or Morse® mechanical steering, you will have to enlarge the dash holes to accommodate the new helm. You may also need to purchase the HA5405 Backing Ring Kit to increase dash rigidity.

I’ve just installed a SeaStar steering system and am ready to water test the boat. What should I look for?

Before operating your boat, ensure that the following checklist is carried out:

a. Perform system pressure test by turning helm all the way to hard over and then forcing the helm another 1/4 to 1/2 turn. This should be done in both directions. This will pressurize the system. Any weakness in the system should show up at this time.

b. Confirm that extruded nylon tubing has NOT been substituted for SeaStar Hydraulic Steering Hose.
c. Confirm that there is no interference between the steering cylinder and the transom, splashwell or jackplate or any combination of these parts by performing these steps:
• With engine fully tilted, turn steering from hard over to hard over and confirm that no
interference occurs. If you are using a hydraulic jack plate this also must be
performed at the top and bottom position of the jack plate. (If interference is present, it must be eliminated with trim limiting switches and/or jack plate lift restrictors.
Contact jack plate maker for advice if required.)
• Confirm that the steering cylinder can be stroked fully in both directions as well as full
tilt and trim without stretching and/or kinking the hydraulic hoses.
• Make sure hoses are not subjected to chafing or rubbing. Stretched, kinked or
chafed hose will fail over time.

Failure to comply with this checklist may result in loss of steering, causing property damage and/or personal injury.

Use only the self-locking fasteners provided; using non-locking fasteners can result in loosening or separation of equipment and loss of steering.

Please read the manuals packed with the product and keep them handy.

How do I “check my oil?”

Unscrew the vent cap in your helm (upper station on dual station boats).

NOTE: Side mount cylinders are unbalanced. If you have a side mount cylinder, the oil level in the helm must be set with the cylinder rod fully retracted. Failing to do so will result in an oil spill at the helm. Turning the wheel to port (left) will retract the cylinder rod). 

Helms mounted with wheel shaft completely horizontal must be filled to bottom of filler hole at all times. Do not allow oil level to drop more than 1/4″ (6.3mm). For helms mounted on a 20° angle or with wheel shaft vertical, oil level should be within 1/2″ (12.7mm) of hole.

Check oil level periodically. At this time the steering system must be checked for proper connections of hose, tube and fittings, possible leaks, and air removal. To do so, turn steering wheel (any on a multi-station) and pressurize very hard to port. Apply enough force to the wheel to overcome pressure relief valve. You will not harm the helm. While pressure is maintained on steering wheel, check all port (left) fittings and line connections for leaks.

If no leaks are present, the system is ready for use. If leaks are found, correct before using. Failure to correct leaks will lower system oil level and could result in loss of steering.

Repeat procedure by turning wheel to starboard. Watch the oil level in the helm pump when the steering wheel reaches either hard over position. If there is no obvious drop in oil level, air was removed. If there is an obvious drop in oil level, you are compressing air — further filling/purging is required.

(See fill and purge procedure.)

Is there anything special I need to know about SeaStar hoses and fittings?

When installing Hydraulic Hoses make sure that the bend restrictor is located at the Steering Cylinder.

Use the shortest, most convenient path for routing hoses without exceeding a minimum bend radius of 2-1/2″ (6 cm), but provide sufficient hose length to allow full, uninterrupted steering motion including trim and tilt.

Route hydraulic hoses with a gradual rise from SeaStar Helm to Cylinder(s) along gunwale or builder-installed conduit.

Hydraulic hoses must be protected from chafing and should be secured wherever possible. Prevent hoses from hanging free in an area where they could become a safety hazard.

Install hoses in such a way that they will not come in contact with sharp objects such as fasteners or edges.

Leave protective fitting caps on until connection of hose fitting to helm and cylinder is complete.

Prevent mix-up in hose connections by marking one hose on both ends with tape or chalk.

Do not use nylon tubing for outboard steering installations. Use the appropriate type of hose or tubing specified by SeaStar Solutions for your type of system.

Use a pipe sealant such as Loctite P.S.T. or equivalent on all pipe threads. Do not use “tape” sealers.

Replacing our Nickel Plated brass fittings with brass or cad plated fittings may cause cylinder threads to corrode.

Refer to SeaStar installation illustrations for the correct connection of hoses from helm pump to cylinder. Note that in dual cylinder installations, hose connections to balanced cylinders are different than unbalanced models.

What kind of oil should I use in my SeaStar system?

Recommended oils for your steering system are: SeaStar Fluid, P/N HA5430 (1 quart), HA5440 (1 gallon). The following brands are acceptable: Chevron® Aviation Hydraulic Fluid A, Esso® Univis N15 or J13, Mobil® Aero HFA, Petro Canada Harmony HV115 (in Canada only), Shell® Aero Fluid #41, Texaco® HO15 and other fluids meeting MIL SPEC H-5606-G.

Automatic transmission fluid (Dexron II®) may be used in an emergency. Never use brake fluid. Any non-approved fluid may cause irreparable damage, loss of steering, and cancellation of warranty.

In cases of extreme emergency any nontoxic, nonflammable fluid may provide temporary steering.

Generally, 2 quarts are required for single station, single cylinder filling. Add one quart per additional station or cylinder.

Please note that SeaStar Capilano systems use Dexron II ATF, not SeaStar steering fluid.

Why are equidistant wheels suggested for hydraulic steering?

Due to a small amount of internal hydraulic slip, a “master spoke” or “centered” steering wheel can’t be maintained with hydraulic steering. For best results, use an equal distance spoke steering wheel.

Do not use a wire coil type trim switch with hydraulic steering. Wire coil can wind up tight around the steering wheel shaft and prevent further steering! SeaStar Solutions offers fingertip control with Pro Trim, a column-mounted switch, without the problem of wires wrapping around the steering column. Pro Trim PT1000P controls trim or jackplate only. Pro Trim Dual PT2000P controls both functions.

Are there any “tricks” to installing a steering system? Is there anything I should definitely avoid doing?

If you have an outboard or sterndrive with non-power-assisted steering, we recommend you use either a NoFeedBack (NFB) mechanical or hydraulic (SeaStar/BayStar/Hynautic) system. For boats with power-assisted steering, use HPS (mechanical) or SeaStar. If you have or plan to install an autopilot, use SeaStar.

Be sure you have the correct cable for the helm on the boat (or vice versa). There are several kinds of cables and helms that are not interchangeable; this is true whether the system is rotary or rack & pinion. See the steering identification guides in the front of the Mechanical Steering section of the catalog and the Steering Options Based on Engine Type charts, pages 4-5.

Be sure you have measured properly and ordered the correct length of cable. (The #1 reason for cable returns is “wrong length ordered”.) See How to Measure, earlier in these FAQs and in more detail on page 14.

Follow the installation instructions for steering products completely. This will ensure the maximum performance and reliability of the product. If the instructions are missing, contact the manufacturer.

Handle the products with care and do not expose them to impact or external stress.

Allow for generous (large) cable bends, notably where the cable exits from the helm (or rack housing) and where the cable makes the bend to connect to the engine/drive/rudder. The tighter the bends, the stiffer the cable will tend to be in operation. Also, tight bends reduce cable life. Note; 8″ is the minimum bend radius generally recommended for SeaStar Solutions steering cables.

When using tie wraps to affix the cable along the gunwale area, allow some slack (do not cinch tight). Slack in the tie wraps allows for cable flex as it is actuated. This leads to smoother operation and longer life.

Replace all worn steering connection/mounting components with correct replacement parts that are designed for the application. Do not substitute parts. If you think parts are missing from a kit, contact your distributor or the kit manufacturer for replacements.

When installing the cable at the engine end, be sure to lubricate the telescopic ram (output end that slides in and out) with liberal amounts of a good, waterproof Lithium-based grease. This is ESPECIALLY critical if the steering cable is connected through the engine tilt tube as this area tends to get very rusty.

Avoid the use of add-on grease fitting products designed to lubricate cables. These units can in fact force old grease, dirt and rust onto the moving internal parts of a steering cable, shortening its life. There is no substitute for proper cable maintenance procedures, as noted earlier in these FAQs.

NOTE: The information in this section is a general guide. If you have questions about our mechanical steering, please contact SeaStar Solutions Technical Support.

What is that clear tube that goes from bleeder to bleeder on my steering cylinder?

That is a tool for bleeding. Simply put one end on the bleeder that you are working on, and the other end in a clean container.

Can I mix and Match Hynautic with SeaStar steering systems?

In most cases you can, please contact us via e-mail with what you are looking to do, and we can assist you with all the details.

I just installed the new BayStar steering system and it seems heavier to steer than a SeaStar, is this normal?

If you know that it has been bled good, and there is no other restriction then this is normal. BayStar is a smaller version of the SeaStar and will feel slightly heavier to steer.

How do I know I have all the air out of my system?

Refer to your owners manual. Having the correct amount of wheel turns hard over to hard over is a good sign the system is free of air.

Where is the part number?

Good question! If you need to contact us and see no numbers of any kind, please have as many measurments ready for when we ask. Any number in the system will help us help you.

How often should I check my fluid?

I like to say ALWAYS, it is simple to check, and it is your steering. The best time is as soon as you step on board BEFORE touching the steering wheel. Fill if needed.

I’m leaking fluid out of my shaft seal on my helm pump, can I change this myself?

It is fairly easy to replace. Confirm the year of your pump, and go to the Replacement parts page, there you will find the proper seal kit. This can be changed in minutes.

Is SeaStar taking care of Hynautic Hydraulic Engine Controls?

SeaStar Solutions (us) have assumed support of the Hynautic Hydraulic Controls. Please direct your questions to us.

Can I get a Tilt helm in my outboard steering kit?

At this time, no. We only offer the Outboard Pro and Standard kits with the Standard front mounting helm, front mount pivot cylinder, two lengths of hose and two bottles of SeaStar Steering fluid.

What’s the best way for you to help me?

The best way is via e-mail from this site, we ask that if you are plannning on e-mailing us through this site, please provide all(if any) part numbers off of your system, this saves time.

I heard that SeaStar Solutions is now taking care of Hynautic Hydraulic Steering, is this true?

Yes. We here at SeaStar Solutions are doing our best to give ALL of the Hynautic customers the same support we give SeaStar customers, this web site will be updated with Hynautic information shortly.

Where can I find an owners manual for my Hydraulic Steering System?

You can locate and print off you owners manual on this site by going to the site map and locating the DOWNLOADABLE PDF files.

My outboard steering is fine at the dock but becomes hard underway. Is this normal?

Adjust Torque Tab on motor to offset prop torque. Adjust trim tabs so that boat runs level. Trim out your engine. Eliminate air by purging the system.

I have a boat fitted with Sytten Steering. Can I get a seal kit for the Helm Pump and a mounting foot/seal kit for the BA135-7BJ cylinder.

The Sytten System was obsoleted in 1984. We no longer have “any” parts available. Your Helm Pump can be replaced with HH5271 & HA5418. The cylinder should be replaced with HC5313 & HA5425.

Can I substitute Transmission Fluid (ATF) for the recommended SeaStar Fluid?

In Emergencies only. ATF will void the warranty and decrease the efficiency of the steering system. SeaStar Steering Fluid can be replaced by any Hydraulic fluid with Mil Spec H5606.

Where can I purchase SeaStar Product and parts?

SeaStar Solutions sells through an established distributor network. Consult your local Marine retailer, dealer or check your yellow pages.

I have a front mount hydraulic outboard cylinder, part # HC5340-42 that has developed a leak. Should I replace the entire cylinder or will a seal kit work?

A seal kit will NOT work if there is any damage to the steering cylinder shaft that will not allow a new seal to seal.  To ensure that the cylinder is repaired properly we recommend contacting one of our Authorized Repair Centers to assist with the repair. Authorized Repair Centers

Does adjusting the torque tab on an outboard really make it steer easier to Port?

Actually YES. I have felt it myself. Of course if your prop is out of the water, so will the tab. Stiff steering will happen if the prop is not totally submerged under water.

My older Hynautic or Capilano system is starting to get really hard to turn, what shall I check first?

We find that many of the times the steering cylinder is frozen in the cylinder body, to check this, remove the steering lines and try to push the cylinder, if you can’t move it, replace it.

Fluid keeps coming out of my vent cap, what is going on?

Could be the o’ring is broken, or the plug has been over tightened and damaged. Send an email to us and we will send you a new one.

I just ordered a seal kit and tried to get a spanner wrench, the part you call for is not a real part #.

Any Spanner Pin wrench from any mfg will work, be sure that the wrench has the following specs. Adjustable from .75″ to 3″ Has a 1/8″ Pin.

I called to leave a voice mail, but the message said that you will call back in 24 hours, I don’t have that much time?

The 24 hour message is just to let customers know that during busy season, it may take that long. We try our hardest to get back within a couple hours, sit tight, we will call.

What kind of maintenance should be performed on my steering system?

Not too much really. Check the fluid level, just as often as you check you cars. Most important, GREASE THE TILT TUBE on your outboard engines.

I have been trying to bleed my Catamaran for serveral days now, I can’t get the air out, what gives?

These are tricky. Please go to the download section of this site and download book No. 9.1. This is the only way to bleed the system.

How much do your items cost?

You must contact your local Distributor for this information, we only sell through our Distributors.

My BayStar system is really hard to turn, almost harder than cable steering…?

BayStar is rated to 150HP MAX (transom rating). Pontoon boats and Bass boats will likely be hard when using BayStar, as this is the taking the BayStar system to its maximum. SeaStar will make the system easier to turn, and, you have the option to add SeaStar Power Assist.

What, When and How do I perform maintenance on my steering system?

* Check fluid level in helm pump
* Check hoses to ensure that they are in good condition.
* Turn steering wheel hard over to hard over.

What autopilot pumps work within your steering systems?

We have no preference of a/p makes. Mostly, ALL will work without issue in our systems.

Hydraulic Steering Helms
When the weather is sunny and hot Oil leaks out of my fill and vent cap. What is the Cause?

Thermal Expansion. As the temperature increases, air in the reservoir expands forcing oil to leak out of the vent cap. Set oil level to 1/4″ below threads of filler cap.

I have an older model pump and want to install a new SeaStar Tilt helm, what adapters will I need?

Unfortunately you cannot retrofit a tilt helm into the old cut out without filling in the hole in your dash and re drilling.

I see that the BayStar helm that I just purchase is metal and not a composite like my older one…..why did you do that?

When it came time to re-tool for this product, SeaStar Solutions made several updates and improvements to the BayStar helm, one of which was the metal cover. This will work with all older parts on board your boat. NOTE: You will need to drill out 4 mounting holes for the new helm (the older one had 3).

I have noticed that the SeaStar helm cover looks different than the old helms..?

This is the new cover for the SeaStar helm pump. Only the cover has changed, you will still enjoy the easy, most reliable steering on the market today. YES – it will work with older helms as well.

What is the replacement part number for the Tilt Mechanism only?

We offer two models, as follows;
* HA6123 for sport tilt helms (soft rubber boot)
* HA6523 for Traditional and Classic Tilt (hard plastic covers).

I have an older Traditional Style Tilt helm, I see that this has been replaced?

This is correct. We have recently launched the new “Classic Tilt”, and this helm will replace ALL Traditional Tilt helms. Your hoses and cylinder will work just fine. The new Classic Tilts have a different style (in regards to cosmetics), and also comes with the newly designed Tilt Mechanism (much better than the previous).