Why SeaStar Front-Mounted Hydraulic Steering Lines Must Be Reversed
It sounds counterintuitive, but when connecting the hydraulic lines from the helm pump to the steering cylinder on a SeaStar front-mounted cylinder hydraulic steering system, the lines exiting from the port and starboard sides of the helm must cross to the opposite sides of the cylinder.
NOTE: This applies to SeaStar hydraulic steering FRONT MOUNT CYLINDERS ONLY. SeaStar’s side-mount and splash-well mount cylinders are connected in the traditional manner.
- The hydraulic pipe coming from the helm’s port connector is run to the cylinder’s starboard connector.
- The hydraulic pipe coming from the helm’s starboard connector is run to the cylinder’s port connector.
This goes against everything we’re taught about like-side being connected to like-side. So why should the hydraulic lines for SeaStar’s front-mounted hydraulic steering kits for outboards be any different?
A hydraulic system works by putting pressure on a non-compressible liquid contained within a confined space. Because the liquid can’t be compressed, a pressure applied at one end is transferred via the hydraulic liquid to a pressure at the other end.
Assuming a hydraulic line is run from the port side of the helm to the starboard side of the front mount cylinder:
- When the helm is turned to port, the hydraulic fluid is pushed into the starboard side of the cylinder.
- As the fluid pushes into the starboard side of the cylinder, it causes the cylinder’s body to move to starboard.
- As the cylinder moves to starboard, it pulls the front of the outboard in the same direction.
- As the front of an outboard pivots to starboard, the rear of the outboard pivots in the opposite direction, which is to port.
- The helm has been turned to port and the props are now oriented to provide thrust and steer the boat to port.
That’s why it’s essential when installing a SeaStar hydraulic steering system that the hydraulic pipe coming from the port side of the helm must be connected to the starboard side of the cylinder, and the starboard helm pipe run to the port side cylinder connector.