View Full Version : Hydraulic helm intermittently not responsive

10-02-2016, 04:54 PM
I have an interesting problem. I have a two station helm setup on my 25 ft C-Hawk - one in the cabin and one on the deck. The deck helm is not responsive unless I jerk it back and forth a few times, then acts normally. If I leave it sit for several minutes, it goes back to non-responsive mode. Fluid levels are good and no air in the system, so I suspect the seals are failing. My basic question is whether or not there is a DIY fix for this, or am I looking a buying a new helm?

10-02-2016, 05:39 PM
What make and model helm do you have?

10-02-2016, 05:54 PM
Chris - Thanks for the reply. I will check in the morning and post as soon as I can.

10-02-2016, 06:05 PM
If you cannot find a make or model number a picture will do. Depending on which helm you have, I use a company that does factory rebuilds.

10-03-2016, 10:19 AM
Chris - It's a Sea Star HH5271. Online research shows that it has been replaced by the HH5271-3 which requires adapters for the old fittings. The rebuild kit is HS5176. However, I'm not sure that my problem calls for a rebuild. As I said, if I turn the helm slowly, it takes a half turn before it moves the outboard. If I turn it fast or jerk it a bit, it turns it right away. What's your opinion? Do I need a rebuild, a replacement (which is darned pricey including $50 for the 3 adapters), or is there something else going on?

10-03-2016, 12:28 PM
How did you fill the system and check for air.

10-03-2016, 12:49 PM
From topmost (cabin) helm, turned all the way left, kept pressure on with bungee cord. Opened helm filler screw to reservoir. No air and it was full (actually overflowed a bit.) Opened right bled screw on steering cylinder attached to engine. No air. Topped off helm reservoir - needed just a few drops. Closed reservoir. Turned helm all the way left. Repeated process with left bleed screw. No air. Reset everything back to center. Checked reservoir on deck helm (the faulty one) for any air. There was none.

10-03-2016, 12:53 PM
Now that I think about it, the bungee cord may not have put constant pressure on the upper helm. I'll get an assistant and re-do it.

10-03-2016, 04:51 PM
Get the bleed kit, and hang a bottle of steering fluid like an I V then turn the wheel back and forth, that is how you bleed them if you do not have a power purge. Topping off the helm to the top of the screw is not doing anything.

After you do this and are sure all the air is out of both helms, we will see if you have an issue.

10-03-2016, 06:07 PM
Thanks Chris. Will do.

10-13-2016, 06:18 PM
Chris, I got the bleed kit and did the IV procedure a few days ago and got a good bit of air out of the cabin helm, which is higher than the deck helm. While doing that, I also did a partial bleed of the steering arm. No air there. I also did the IV procedure on the deck help - one very small air bubble. When I finished, everything seems to be working properly.

Yesterday, I tested the steering again and it was still a bit sloppy but not nearly as bad as last week. Today, I went back to the higher cabin helm and got a bit more air out of that. Sort of scratching my head over that situation. There were no visible leaks on either helm. Then I took a close look at the O rings on the filler caps of both helms. The one on the deck helm was buggered up pretty bad. Replaced that and did another air bleed on each helm.

I'm speculating that the bad O ring allowed air to enter the deck helm, which then worked it's way up to the higher cabin helm. Does that sound plausible to you?

I plan to do a lot of fishing this weekend and will let you know if it holds up. If not, I'm not sure where to go from here. Any ideas?

10-13-2016, 07:32 PM
Absolutely. That helm can pull a slight vacuum.

10-14-2016, 06:35 AM
Chris, I did not realize that. I'm going to consider the fix completed. Thanks for your help.