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Author Topic:   Hydraulic Steering on 1986 Outrage 18'?
dreid posted 09-02-2003 01:45 PM ET (US)   Profile for dreid   Send Email to dreid  
I've been happy for the last four years with a new (in 1999) Johnson 150 and old twin cable steering. The cables were in good order when we purchased the boat and re-powered in '99, so the steering was about the only system we did not replace early on. Both cables have gradually locked up this year, and no amount of lubrication has 100% freed them, even after disconnecting and removing the cables, lubing them and putting everything back together. To make matters worse, wrestling the cables with the wheel and helm appears to have put some play into the helm that we can't correct. We're talking about a 17-year old steering system used in a salt water environment.

My mechanic has suggested switching to Teleflex’s Sea Star Pro hydraulic steering system. The cost will be maybe $350, or about 50%, more than replacing the old cable system and helm. He's convinced that this system is a winner, based on his experience with happy customers. Long term reliability and not getting stranded mean more to me than the extra money in this instance. Seems that a new set of cables and helm would probably be almost as good for another 15 years or so. What do some of you think?

onlyawhaler posted 09-02-2003 01:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for onlyawhaler  Send Email to onlyawhaler     
Great Choice,

I changed out my cable steering out months ago on my 88 18OR and it transformed the boat. Steers wonderfully, much more controllable at higher speeds and tight turns. Absoutely worth the investment. I ordered it online and paid about $800 for the Teleflex Seastar helm, cylinder back on the steering tube, lines and fluid.

If you can get it that inexpensively, go for it. I did mine myself and it took about 5-7 hours to remove all the old and install the new. The hardest parts were removing the old steering tube and fishing the two lines under the floor.

Absoutely a worthwhile upgrade. You will need the 16 ft lines and your steering wheel will fit the new system.

Good luck

whalersman posted 09-02-2003 02:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalersman  Send Email to whalersman     

Did you use the "Side" mount cylinder on your engine steering or the "Center" mount cylinder???


kingfish posted 09-02-2003 03:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
I just replaced the OEM (Teleflex/OMC) power steering/hydraulic steering cylinder with a new Teleflex front-mount cylinder on my Outrage 22/Evinrude 225, and the cylinder assembly *alone* was $400. Side mount could be less expensive than the front mount, I don't know, but the entire system for $350 - that is a steal. I would suspect the actual cylinder, front or side, has been left out of the equation.


hauptjm posted 09-02-2003 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    

Kingfish is correct: something's amiss. I have the same boat as you and my system was $875.00. Now to compare apples to apples, I have the SeaStar 2.4 unit with the front mount cylinder. There is a unit made by SeaStar called something like BayStar that is a cheaper model. Make sure you're getting what you think you're getting.

whalersman posted 09-02-2003 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalersman  Send Email to whalersman     
kingfish and hauptjm,

It took me a couple of times looking at what dried really said to understand it....

He said that the Hydraulic system would cost about $350 (or 50%) more then the standard steering.....

I have seen the SeaStar advertised for about $750 complete..... The Dual cable steering system would be about half (or 50% less) then the Hydraulic system... maybe even a little less depending on No-Feedback or Regular...

I hope this helps clear things up....


kingfish posted 09-02-2003 04:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Right you are - apparently I will die of old age before I break the habit of reading what I expect to see rather than what the printed page says - thanks.

Dreid, sorry for the confusion-


dreid posted 09-02-2003 07:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for dreid  Send Email to dreid     
Hey guys. Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, my communication skills left something to be desired. The new Sea Star Pro system, including helm and front-mount cylinder, will run "about" $1,000 installed. That was about $350 more than replacing the two cables and helm. Sorry to make it a math word problem. I told my mechanic to go ahead and order the parts. Will have her back in the water in a week or so. Then, we'll see.
kingfish posted 09-02-2003 07:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
You'll love it!!


onlyawhaler posted 09-02-2003 08:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for onlyawhaler  Send Email to onlyawhaler     
Joe, Whalersman

I have the center mounted cylinder on my steering. I looked at the side mount and was concerned about the rod going too far starboard and hitting a battery. The center mount didn't pose that problem.

The hose fittings on the cylinder can be angled any which way and makes it easy to point both hoses starboard and get the angle.


whalersman posted 09-02-2003 09:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalersman  Send Email to whalersman     
Thanks Sterling....

The Front or Center mounted cylinder seems to be the one the get....

Now, for an Outrage 18 many people say that they used 18' hydraulic hoses but you say you used 16' hydraulic hoses.... I am not arguing with anyone but I would like to make sure I order the correct length of hydraulic hoses when I do finally order the SeaStar system.

I understand that the Side mount hydraulic cylinder may use shorter hoses as it is mounted to the starboard side and the Front or Center mounted cyliinder should take a little bit longer hydraulic hose...

16' or 18' hoses for the Center mounted cylinder????


doobee posted 09-02-2003 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for doobee  Send Email to doobee     
Front mount is a better choice as it is a balanced system and will be more reliable during extreme maneuvres.

This may not apply here, but auto pilots only work with a front mount system.

The August issue of Boat and Motor Dealer has a short but interesting piece on steering systems.

hauptjm posted 09-03-2003 11:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
I'll take my lashes with the Kingfish, I didn't read what was written, but what I wanted to read. Regardless, you'll love the new system. I wish I could help with the hose length, but I have this tumorous appendage called a bracket that screws the numbers up.

Additionally, be sure you can tilt your engine all the way up after installation in a traditional notched transom. Don't quote me on this, but I believe there are several mounting attachments that should be able to accomodate this.

jimh posted 09-03-2003 04:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The question of side mounted versus center mounted steering is an interesting one. I advocate side mounted for the following reasons:

--less expensive;
--mechanically simpler; fewer additional components needed to couple the cylinder actuator arm to the engine (1-part that already comes with the engine!);
--the hydraulic hoses do not move around; only the actuator arm moves;
--neater installation.

The only disadvantages I see are:

--limited horsepower rating (300-HP Max, I think);
--asymmetrical pressure/power in cylinder

The asymmetry of the cylinder causes two minor problems:

--fluid level in helm pump changes slightly (0.25 inch) as pump operates.
--number of turns to lock varies slightly.

The asymmetry can actually be exploited by mounting the cylinder on the opposite side from "normal". Typically the cylinder is mounted on the starboard side of the engine. If the cylinder is reversed and mounted on the port side, the extra power of the cylinder then works against the propeller torque, in essence helping compensate for it.

In high power applications two side mounted cylinders are used, and in those configurations the asymmetry cancels out,


lhg posted 09-04-2003 02:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
The hydraulic steering installation uses 18' hoses on my Outrage 18. Don't even think twice about replacing that old, obsolete twin cable setup. In my opinion, it was the worst standard feature of the Outrage 18.

As a user of the side mount cylinder on both of my twin engine powered Whalers, I agree with JimH's post except for the addition of one disadvantage. Mainly, on a SINGLE engine installation, the side mount cylinder looks somewhat awkward sticking out the side of the tilt tube, especially if a bracket is involved. I think that is why Teleflex recommends the higher cost front mount for single engine installations. Also on some boats with a single engine sized notched transom, the side mount probably won't fit within the narrower notch.

For twin engine installations, using only one cylinder, the side mount excels, since it "hides" very nicely between the engines for an extremely clean looking installation. To avoid the tilt tube corrosion problems associated with the mechanical steering ram, ALWAYS use a "Steersman" or other brand SS lube nut with O-ring fitting to replace the engine's tilt tube nut on the exit side. This keeps the tilt tube absolutely clean and functioning with either kind of steering. With Mercurys, which contain the O-ring within the tilt tube itself, the factory O-ring must be removed in favor of the O-ring in the nut.

jimh posted 09-04-2003 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I must mention that I had never seen side mounted hydraulic cylinders used with either single or twin outboards until I saw them on LHG's fine twin engine Boston Whaler classics.

When last in Florida we noticed that a large dealer (Bass Pro Shops) was beginning to rig some of its twin engine boats with that approach, instead of the ubiquitous center mounted cylinders. With twins and dual center mounted cylinders you have FOUR hydraulic cables flopping around the splash well following the motor movement. With side mounted you have no moving cables, quite an improvement.

onlyawhaler posted 09-05-2003 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for onlyawhaler  Send Email to onlyawhaler     
Hi Joe/Whalersman

Sorry for the late reply. Work, work, work. I check my reciept and I had the 16ft hoses on my system. I have seen posts of those using 18ft hoses. I don't know what to say except that the 16s worked great. The cylinder has fitings that can be angled and I even pointed the hoses first to port and then back to starboard to go in the washout area and under the floor to the center.

It is important to angle the hoses to port first to creat a loop or slack area. I have a good (probably last) OMC tech in the area tell me this. I even had alittle slack over.


dreid posted 09-12-2003 04:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for dreid  Send Email to dreid     
I picked up the 18' with its new hydraulic steering last night. Total installed cost was $1,270, including $275 labor plus $995 for the Teleflex Sea Star Pro front mount system and 16' hydraulic lines. Put her in the river for a short spin, and what a difference. I like things simple and have always viewed power steering as over kill for a small boat like the 18'. I was wrong. She is remarkably easy to steer and maintained an absolutely rock solid heading when I let go of the wheel. As a safety feature, this alone justifies the added cost over cable steering, in my opinion. No way the boat will circle back onto you if, God forbid, you ever go overboard.

To address a couple points made by others here, the front mounted cylinder almost hides underneath the front of the engine, taking the place of the old dual cable connection and fitting snugly up against the transom, so there's no additional room taken up by the new equipment. A side mount cylinder would have no benefit, to my thinking, over the front mount in a single engine configuration, principally because of the added space it would consume. Also, the 16' lines "just fit" this hull due to its low transom height. My mechanic said that any other 18' hull would normally require he go with the 18' lines. I'm pleased with the lack of extra cable flopping around in the splash area.

I'm happy with the purchase and can now recommend it to anyone with an Outrage 18' faced with replacing their steering system. Thanks for all the feedback, everybody.

jimh posted 09-13-2003 09:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Many thanks to dreid for the courtesy of a follow-up posting on this subject. I am certain that all readers appreciate hearing the final outcome of projects and the accuracy of advice offered in undertaking them.

I am pleased to hear that the costs were in line with the estimate I have been citing ($1,000) for upgrading to hydraulic.

The fact that hydraulic steering will hold a course and not circle back is another advantage which I do not think has been mentioned enough. Also, in day to day operation I think the ability to momentarily leave the wheel and have the boat carry on is also a big plus for hydraulic systems.

Again, thanks for the follow up posting. This makes the information contained herein more valuable.


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