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Props, Setups & Rigging This is our Checkmate setup forum. Topics include props, jackplates and setback, trim tabs, steering etc. This is also the forum to share your best setup tips and top speed numbers. So come on in and exchange setup details with your fellow members.

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Old 02-08-2020, 09:33 PM   #1
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Default hydraulic steering slop

I have a 2018 pulsare 2000brx with 2018 Merc 250 proXS, hydraulic jack plate with 12inches set-back, 24-pitch tempest, factory hydraulic steering. I have been dealing with instability over 60 mph from day one, more than the "chine walk" I was accustomed to with my last boat.
In this case, I and several local dealers (mostly purveyors of pontoons, maybe the occasional Bayliner) tried purging the lines; I even changed the helm to a larger capacity (Seastar Pro-something I believe)--made no real difference. Over the winter I remounting the engine even higher and bought a 4-blade Trophy prop--haven't tried those changes yet, which may decrease the leverage the engine has on the hull and steering system, but I really think the issue is still the steering slop. When I push the motor back and forth, it moves maybe 5-degrees without any movement at the helm--and my mercury hydraulic cylinder has about 5-10mm of excursion--my pontoon's system does the same thing (of course not an issue there, since the hull is so much slower).

So...is this normal? Is there a steering system on the market that doesn't have as much play? Should I try purging the lines again, or could the mercury cylinder be defective (both otherwise function fine)? I was just wondering if any members have had similar experiences in the past, or are familiar with any newer steering products for high performance applications.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:55 PM   #2
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I have the older Seastar hydraulic steering system on my Pulsare. The owners manual instructions recommend pressurizing the system before each use by cranking the steering wheel all the way to one side until the steering wheel stops rotating, then keep cranking the wheel another half of a turn. I do this in both directions before I put the boat in the water. I see a noticeable decrease in free play after doing this. Also there is collar with a set screw on one end of the cylinder. The collar can be adjusted to decrease free play.

Not sure if your hydraulic steering system is similar to mine but I thought I would share my experience Incase they are similar.

My recommendation is to find the instruction manual for your hydraulic steering system, print it off and read it throughly and then make adjustments as necessary.

Last edited by TMR; 02-09-2020 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:07 PM   #3
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Always did this on my previous systems. Tightens it right up.

cranking the steering wheel all the way to one side until the steering wheel stops rotating, then keep cranking the wheel another half of a turn
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:39 PM   #4
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Thank you so much for the advice. I can’t wait to try that. I have tried the owners manual (mostly bleeding instructions)and adjusting the collar but I think it’s more of an issue of the built-in slop that might be acceptable at slower speeds. I wish somebody could come up with a more precise steering system for these applications but until that happens I really appreciate being able to benefit from your experience.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:12 PM   #5
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One thing I would like to add, even after pressurizing the hydraulic steering system, a little bit of free play is most likely normal. You could contact the manufacturer to find out how much free play is acceptable
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:50 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input. There is a good 1/2 inch of play — I was looking at one of the SeaStar technical videos and they claim 1/8 inch is max acceptable, but my system still has the original Mercury cylinder and cables, working with the SeaStar pro helm.Though a local dealer power bled the system 4 months ago during winterization, I am going to re- bleed the system ( since it still has slop)... maybe buy a powerbleed jr to do it myself... and if that doesn’t get rid of the slop consider swapping out to the SeaStar pro cylinder as well. It might seem excessive, but the fastest way I could go last season was with my wife and 3 smallish kids in the bow (upper 60s)...to me the difference between a mid-60s boat and a mid- 70s boat is worth the trouble...not to mention that the boat is all over the place over 60 as is.
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