Sunday, August 28, 2011

Power steering part II

I'm still waiting for the auxiliary drive adapter from John Deere. On Thursday, the Deere marine dealer called me to let me know the part had shipped, so I should see it on Monday as it was shipping from Ashland KY. I'm not in a big hurry for this part, but if I were depending on this type of service or made my living off of getting repair parts in a a relatively short time, I'd be quite pissed at Deere about now. I've owned CAT equipment all my career, and to be honest, no one can hold a candle to how fast CAT gets parts to contractors. I'm not going to beat this horse any more, but I've never waited more than 24 hours for a CAT part.... NEVER.

All the hydraulic lines I'm able to install without having the drive adapter are installed. The lines had to pass through two water tight bulkheads en route from the engine room to the helm then to the steering quadrant. I used bulkhead fittings to get through the bulkheads and maintain the water tight integrity of the bulkhead. The bulkhead fitting also breaks the lines down in to shorter runs, which helps the manageability of the system.

A few things are starting to look like I did some things right in the previous stage of the build. It has turned out to be a good thing that I bolted lumber to my steel framing to screw the various floors too. I've had all the engine room floor plates many, many times, and having the lumber to screw the floor panels too, vs screwing to the floor material directly to the steel framing, has made removal and replacement of the panels a breeze. I held the lumber proud of the steel framing by 1/16th of an inch, so I don't have any aluminum touching any steel which should help with rattles. The lumber is also making running mechanical systems much simpler and quicker as it is much easier to run a screw in to the lumber for attaching clamps vs through bolting through the steel. The lumber to steel idea has for sure made my life easier. I still have water lines, electric lines, and more hydraulic lines to install beneath the sole, and I know it is going to speed things up and make a hard job easier due to having the timber frames bolted to the steel frames.

Because my lines are fixed between bulkheads, and no line will see any movement, I have a feeling the hydraulic lines will last many, many years. The only place I will have movement of any parts is at the steering quadrant. Because of the slight movement the steering quadrant will have upon the hydraulic lines, I decided to use a short jumper line between the cylinders and a bulkhead fitting vs having a long line directly from the water tight bulkhead to the cylinders. I attached a two inch piece of angle iron the the aft wall, and used two bulkhead fittings to make the connections. Since I have some hydraulic hose left over, I'll probably make a spare line for this area and in case the movement in the quadrant causes a line to fail prematurely. So I have a relatively set of long lines starting at the water tight bulkhead terminating at the angle iron bulkhead fitting, then two short jumper lines connect to the slightly moving quadrant.

I installed the seven gallon reservoir underneath the work bench next to the engine. I threaded a filter in to the reservoir, and have the return circuit running through the filter. The reservoir has a site gauge on it with a built in thermometer. To make filling the reservoir easier, I extended a 1" fill neck with a vented cap up to the work bench elevation. The " low " level on the site gauge is 4" above the pump elevation. The pump needs to be gravity fed and it was critical to keep the oil level above the pump at all times.

I kicked around the various routes I had to get the hydraulic lines from the engine room to the helm and back again for while before I committed to install the lines. I decided to run the lines from under the engine bed, through the water tight bulkhead @ the center of the boat, then up the wall of the master cabin and in to a chase in the master cabin ceiling. I'm going to have to create a chase to hide the hydraulic lines that run up the master cabin wall by the water tight door, but this will solve a few problems in doing so. I've decide to use this newly created chase to run the throttle control and shift cable controls for the main engine. I also will use this chase to run the hydraulic lines for the deck winch. The ceiling chase is getting crowded, but I know I have enough room to install the shift and throttle cables. I am questioning if the winch hydraulic lines will fit in the remaining space since those are 1/2", and things are getting tight up there. I do have another framed ceiling chase next to this one on the other side of the longitude ceiling beam, so I can always use that chase. The unused chase I'm speaking of is going to be for my DC home runs from the engine room, and the AC lines feeding the air conditioner that will reside under the steps.

I'm clamping all the hydraulic lines using galvanized rubber coated clamps and stainless screws. Any place I have four lines running together, I clamped two of them with the steel clamps, then used plastic cable ties to tie the remaining two lines to the better clamped set. Any place I have two lines, I steel clamped one line, then cable tied the other to it. I had ordered two boxes of clamps from the Parts Connection, and the other day, I gave one of them back. This week on one of my visits to the Parts Connection, I'm going to get back that box as I've been burning through the clamps. I don't want any moving or chaffing of these hydraulic lines. Any place I installed lines through metal framing ( when not using bulkhead fittings) I hole sawed through the metal and installed a rubber grommet. 1 1/4" grommets were a little tight for two 3/8" lines together, so I upped the grommet size to 1 1/2"

The size of the steering wheel is something that has been eluding me, and I really don't know how big a wheel I want. I mocked up a few sizes, but am afraid to commit to anything. I found a used 18" destroyer wheel on Ebay, and paid the stupidly cheap price of $1.00 plus $12.00 in shipping. The wheel is missing the cap, but I could lathe one out of Cherry, and call this a done deal. At least I can use the wheel to test the steering as soon as I finish the job and get the engine ready to fire. Hard over to hard over on this steering system will be about three turns, so a large wheel is not needed for torque. 18" might work, but seems a little small to me.

The helm is mounted to a piece of 18" channel welded and braced to the floor. All the helm cabinetry will be in Cherry, so you won't see that beautiful piece of channel steel. The channel makes for a nice stout mounting tower for the helm and hydraulic lines, and that's all I cared about.

I don't think installing the pump drive adapter is going to be a big job, so I am looking to have the steering system wrapped up by next weekend. I'll post some more once I have the drive adapter installed. I might connect the exhaust at that time and fire the engine.


  1. Hi Conall,

    Did you use hydraulic hoses through-out the yacht - i.e. no metal pipes running forward to the thruster or to the winches?


  2. With a cat engine, you need to wait on the fuel trucks more often :)