Steering Question

Discussion in 'Boats and Motors' started by 1roofmusky, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. Whats the difference between "rack" steering and "piston" steering?

    Could these systems be used on the same outboard?
  2. UFM82

    UFM82 The one others want to be

    A rack system uses a mechanical gear to move a cable that is connected to the outboard. The vast majority of outboards under 150 hp have this type of system. Simple, effective, cheap and long-lived. These systems can be as cheap as $150. The upside is the ease of use, simple installation and minimal maintenance. Lube the cable ends to prevent corrosion and it works.
    Piston steering, or hydraulic as it is known, uses a helm that pumps oil through lines that connect to a piston actuator mounted on the engine. As you move the steering wheel, that pushes oil one way or the other and moves the cylinder back and forth. This type of steering is most commonly used on high-performance boats such as bass boats or larger outboard set-ups. The biggest downside to a hydraulic system is cost with the cheapest system being $500 or more. There is more maintenance involved as the helms will eventually leak and require resealing. Also, you must bleed the system upon installation for it to work. The upside is extremely easy steering and control. Once you get into boats that require more control than a typical boat the hydraulic steering becomes very important. Most cable system are not recommended for large outboards and even then they will be a dual-cable set-up. Hydraulic systems are compact and oftentimes require less room for installation.
    I have cable steering on my boat and would love to have hydraulic but the cost kills me.


  3. Thanks a lot UFM82! You sure cleared that up for me. I really appreiate it. -Gabe
  4. Workdog

    Workdog "One More Time"

    My hydraulic steering is 20 years old now, and the only maintenance I've put into it is two o-rings at the helm (one time, to fix a slow leak) and 3 o-rings on one side of the piston at the motor (one-time fix). I can turn twin 150s with a single finger in the steering wheel spokes.
  5. ezbite

    ezbite the Susan Lucci of OGF

    if you are changing steering and can afford it..go hydraulic. i used to steer with 2 hands, cut out the cable steering and installed seastar hyd system, took me 1 day to remove the old and 1 day to install the new, could have done it in one day, just got a late start and did it alone, without any help.. as workdog said, i can steer my 150 mecr with one finger. its been in a few years and i have no leaks or have i had to add any fluid. got mine off ebay fairly reasonable.