Tools and Supplies
*Masking tape and marker
*1/4-inch cord (for messengers)
*Power drill and bits
*Thread sealant such as Loctite 592 PST ($5.29/0.20 ounce, advanceautoparts.com)
*Cleanup rags (to wipe up hydraulic fluid)
Hydraulic steering makes handling higher horsepower easier and smoother. Installing a system in your outboard-powered boat is a simple do-it-yourself project. The BayStar kit (part number HK4200A) from SeaStar Solutions (seastarsolutions.com) for outboards up to 150 hp is one of the least expensive ways to upgrade. It includes a helm pump, a front-mount cylinder and two sets of hydraulic tubing that you cut to length. This system requires a splashwell width of at least 21 inches. Other systems for larger and multiple engines are also available.
1. Remove the Cable System
Disconnect the steering cable at both the engine and helm by removing the retaining nuts, and remove the cable from the boat. Be careful to avoid snagging or damaging wires or throttle cables as you pull the steering cable out of the boat. Unbolt and remove the steering wheel, using a gear-puller if you need to break it loose from the helm spindle. Then unbolt and remove the helm.
2. Pull the Hydraulic Tubes
Using your pull-cords (see “Quick Tip”), feed the hoses along the rigging path from the stern to the helm, making sure the swaged ends are at the stern end. Tape off the ends to keep out debris; also use masking tape and a marker to label the tubing at each end as “P” and “S,” to identify them later. Ensure that the tubing bends gradually throughout the run; do not exceed a four-inch bend radius.
3. Install the Cylinder
Follow SeaStar’s instructions for installing the cylinder on your particular outboard (you might need an optional spacer kit). Once the cylinder is bolted in place, connect and snug up the tubing’s swaged compression fittings as follows: “P” to the starboard side of the cylinder, “S” to the port side (sounds wrong, but it’s correct). Make sure the tubing length will allow for the outboard’s side-to-side movement, as well as tilt and trim.