Power steering makes maneuvering easier for skippers of any style of boat. When you’re looking for a power-steering system, or a new boat fitted with one, make sure it incorporates these key components.
1. No Feedback
The helm should have a stainless-steel steering column with a self-lubricating bearing to last longer in the saltwater environment. A power-steering helm also needs integrated lockouts or “stops” to ensure that feedback from the rudder doesn’t push fluid back up into the system and torque the steering wheel. Maximum backpressure for the lockouts is 300 psi.
2. Size (It Matters)
Steering hoses must be sized to the system pump’s flow capacity. Except for high-performance installations that have braided stainless-steel lines to look cool, most power-steering hoses are 1,000 psi minimum, single-wire reinforced, industrial, hydraulic versions with swaged ends. Avoid the plastic hose used in manual hydraulic systems. Hot fluid from a power-steering pump can deform the hose.
3. Controlled Cruise
Autopilot is easier to install on a power-steering system than on a manual hydraulic one because, at the steering end, a solenoid is all that’s added. It receives a signal from the autopilot unit and adjusts the steering to port or starboard.