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Converting from cable steer to hydraulic steering.


Converting from cable steer to hydraulic steering.

Old 11-10-2018, 11:27 PM
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Default Converting from cable steer to hydraulic steering.

I have a 1997 Baja 38 special and I am wondering about converting it to hydraulic steering. I'm not really sure where to begin? I currently stripped my sailboat off all it's electronics so I could throw my sailboat in the dumpster and be done with it. I assume my autopilot would work better with hydraulic steering vs these octopus help adapters but am also open to ideas on that too.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:46 PM
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What you will need:
Hydraulic helm unit and column
Power steering pump(s) if you don't already have them.
Transom brackets, hydraulic cylinders, drive bracket(s), tie rod if it's dual and doesn't already have one
A bunch of fittings and lines.
Everything needs to be sized properly for a usable steering ratio.
Or, buy a complete kit with matched components.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:32 PM
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You need to start with about 5k in cash and then add another 2k for labor

Go to Imco's website for some guidance and pics
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:12 AM
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you can find kits online
and see the costs...


not sure on how much of a ''do it yourself'' kind of guy you are,
but i installed mine setup myself.
given the fact i had NOTHING in my engine compartment, as i had transom replaced...
i would think it was much easier to do vs having motors in there.

i also had to do some work in the helm area.
you will have to mount a steering valve / manifold
from this valve unit , you will have to run 4 large hydraulic lines to back of boat
good luck...................

Last edited by flashgordon; 03-22-2019 at 06:15 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-23-2019, 02:00 AM
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I did this 3 years ago. It's a big job and requires lots of planning, measurements and some precise drilling.
If your planning on used equip, it's best to find a setup being removed from a boat that's similar. That way you get everything.
Missing hardware can add up quick. I was missing a special stud needed to attach the bracket to the drive. Had to have a machine shop make a replacement.$$$
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Old 03-23-2019, 06:58 AM
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Get ahold of mike(sick stinger) just bought a nice used latham setup from him....no bs guy and you'll save a lot of money...if you're comfortable with a drill and silicone I wouldn't be afraid to tackle the job. you have to remove your current cable, helm, hydraulic assist rack behind engines...then its all about drilling a few holes and running some hoses
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:39 AM
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I agree with BBYSTWY, do some home work on line for whatís out there and installation instruction if your DIY.
Definately reach out to a Sick Stinger before you invest 5 or 6 K in a new set up. Mike hooked me up with a complete Zieger Performance set up, helm to drive. Mike also helped me out with some DIY questions. It took me about 30 hours to remove the old and install the full hydraulic steering on a 34 Scarab with engines in place. I also added a 1 square foot transom plate on the inside of the transom to reinforce the cylinder connections. Seams like an awful lot of load on the transom. You can find most of what you need to know about inatallation from the manufacturers website.
A few important things to remember if you DYI.
Dont mix and match different manufacturer components at your drives. They all have different geometry and things could go real bad if itís not well thought out.
You can get the templates for thru hull drilling and transom hardware location from the manufacturers websites. I raised the transom mount location a little to compensate for the trim angle at cruising speed.
Measure 3 times and dry run your configuration before you drill and holes in your transom.
Particular drive, end cap / wing plates, cylinder length, cylinder throw , inboard or out board configuration all play a part in proper mounting location on the transom. Iíve heard horror stories about guys snapping the drives out of the gimbal, cracking their transom or ripping the drives out of the transom by not making sure the hydraulics bottom out before the drives.
Get some help when you bleed the system. Someone definately needs to be at the drives cracking the fittings to get all the air out of the cylinders. I tried doing it by myself and ended up with a bilge full of steering fluid.

Good Luck
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Old 03-25-2019, 02:35 PM
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Another chime-in for Mike Mellow here. He set me up with a complete (helm wheel to drive plate) Latham set-up. Hydraulic steering is the best upgrade I've ever done to any of my boats; I'll never have another boat without it.
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:06 PM
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I bought mine used on the swap shop here about 4 years ago for maybe 2,000? Something like that. Mines a 25+ year old Latham system. I sent the cylinders off to Latham and had them rebuilt and rechromed. If youíre mechanical you can do it yourself. My boat went from making sudden turns on its own at 65mph, to me being able to let go of the wheel at wide open throttle trusting the boat to go straight. One of the best things you can do to your boat.

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Old 03-28-2019, 01:51 PM
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I bought my kit through everettperformance.com, Paul was extremely helpful and put everything together that I needed. They had the best pricing for new equipment I could find. Just make sure you get the mandrel to make the hoses, otherwise you're in for trouble. I already had the external cylinder so it was pretty easy. The hardest part was bleeding the system.
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