For smaller, single-engine boats (150hp and below), you can use a basic system that uses a special cylinder and helm designed for this horsepower category. The last category is the “go-fast” system that requires a higher-pressure relief system (1500 psi). Located in Murfreesboro, TN, Wide Open Design is a constant trend setter in the off road industry. We also stock a full retail (and walk-in showroom) store with a full line of parts for off road vehicles. Full HydroTraditionally, this has always been the point where most 'wheelers cross the line between a trail-only rig and a daily driver. Ram AssistFor most 'wheelers, the somewhat less expensive, less complex hydraulic assist may be the best option.
ReservoirThis is the hydraulic fluid (or power-steering fluid) reservoir that stores the fluid necessary for the system. Steering Control Unit or Metering Valve Similar in function to the automotive "steering box," this part translates driver input at the steering wheel to actual movement of the cylinder. Relief ValveIt's simply a pressure relief pop-off, similar to what you might find on a shop air compressor.
CoolerJust as a radiator exchanges heat from water, the power-steering cooler helps keep the steering system's oil temperature in check.
Pressure Line or Supply HoseThese lines carry power-steering fluid to all the parts of the system.
OilIn hydraulic systems, oil performs the dual function of lubrication and transmission of power. This picture shows a fully hydrostatic arrangement on the front end of Top Truck Challenger Dan Dibble's ASM rock buggy. Though the exact placement of the ram varies from axle to axle, there is one key consideration to remember when mounting a double-ended ram: Angle of deflection. Howe recently stepped up to the plate with a whole new steering box cast entirely from aircraft-quality aluminum. A good hydraulic steering system requires thorough planning, quality gear and a meticulous installation. For outboard steering selection, the most important requirement is the amount of room available either side of the outboard motor. Selection of steering for inboard rudders is not as simple as for outboard or sterndrive powered vessels.
Multiple stations are very simple to install and provide the helmsman with instant and light control from any number of steering positions. Admiral Series helm units are designed for use with hydraulic autopilots, and have in-built lock valves and balance-line ports to ensure simple and economic installation. If you have inboards, outboards, sterndrives or jets, HyDrive has a fluid-link circuit design that will allow your steering to operate without mechanical tie-rods. Hydraulic steering improves the performance by using hydraulic pressure to reduce the amount of torque or effort that it takes to steer the boat. This basic system is typically used in fishing boats, pontoons, and smaller saltwater applications. It is more robust and is designed to withstand conditions that demand a stronger and better-performing product. This typically is used in boats averaging 60 mph or more, but can be used in any high-torque application.
An inadequate system can over-exercise arm muscles while making tight maneuvers very frustrating.
In most cases, companies offer complete kits for specific vehicle applications like the PSC kit shown above for the '05 Jeep TJ. If there's a malfunction in the system and the pressure spikes, the relief valve opens and the pressure is released back to the reservoir.


Technically, they're referred to as nondifferential cylinders, or double-acting piston-type cylinders. Howe builds two very trick billet coolers that lower oil temperatures up to 24 degrees without restrictions. It's basically the life blood of a hydraulic system, and careful selection should be made with the assistance of a reputable supplier. With the exception of late-model SUVs and some IFS pickups, a steering box is typically mounted on the driver side, along the framerail.
Most shops have rebuild programs where worn boxes are reconditioned for second and third installations; this is called a core exchange program. However, when you focus in on the details of each setup, you'll find each system is very different, and depending on what type of 'wheeling you plan to do, each system has strengths and weaknesses.
Someone started a rumor about fully hydraulic steering being illegal for use on the highway.
Heat is the enemy, so it's always a good idea to use synthetic fluid.•It's very important to bleed all the air from your system before starting your engine and running the pump for the first time.
Unless you have a pair of very large horsepower motors, any of the kits, from the Sportkit to the powerful OBKIT1 using the 210BH cylinder, can steer your boat. Ideal for fly bridge, rear deck, or tuna tower consoles, complete Dual Station Kits which include lock valves and all other fittings are available to make your installation very simple indeed.
The HD Series helm units are also designed for use with hydraulic autopilots and require the fitting of external lock valves (Part No 331C or 318C) to isolate the helm from the pilot pump unit. Outback Marine has developed a hydraulic manifold block that simplifies installation of this type of system and easily integrate into the autopilot system. From the minute you open the box and begin to read the comprehensive instructions, you will find the system has been designed to be installed by even the most inexperienced boating enthusiast, without any hydraulic knowledge. This catagory can be used on single- or multiple-engine installations, and typically has a standard cylinder as well as a port cylinder version for dual-engine installations. Or, if well designed, a hydraulic steering system can actually contribute to the overall enjoyment of a day in the dirt.
The units are both durable and compact, and we like the trick-looking mounting brackets Howe supplies to help you secure it to rollbar tubing. High-quality hose should be considered a top priority, as the hose is typically the most vulnerable part of the system. The function of a steering box is to translate driver input from the steering wheel into a usable rotational force for mechanical steering linkages. For instance, Howe builds a large majority of the steering components found on high-speed Baja racing vehicles, one area where failures can cost lives. The inside of the pump has several metal-on-metal moving parts that can be damaged if operated without oil.•All components of a hydraulic steering system should be matched in regards to flow, pressure, and volume. The ultimate decision comes down to a combination of personal preference, your budget, and the amount of engine-well space available. There is a questionnaire available which, when completed and forwarded to us gives all information required to calculate the rudder torques on your vessel. The hoses are also more robust to withstand the additional pressures that the system will see in operation. The hydraulic industry refers to these as steering control units (SCU) or, more commonly, metering valves.
Many different types of pumps exist, and most companies set up power-steering pumps to produce between 3 and 5 gallons per minute (gpm) of flow.
The size of the ram depends on the mechanical effort that the system requires to steer the tires.
Those who choose to substitute parts of the system with unmatched components will likely encounter undesired results.•The pulley that drives the power-steering pump should be sized according to the specified rpm limits of the pump. Keep in mind that there is no single formula which can take all types of vessel into account..


At a minimum, the reservoir must be large enough to hold reserve oil for both extended and collapsed cylinder lengths. Metering valves have a specific displacement volume, which equates into how many cubic inches of fluid can pass through the valve in one 360-degree revolution. Here we believe the most important things to consider are what materials are used to build the ram and how far the manufacturer goes to ensure the ram is perfectly centric. It's nice to use the do-it-yourself hose kits with screw-tight fittings rather than professionally built crimp-on fittings. This is a great new product because you get a perfect, never-used-before unit instead of a rebuilt box with questionable tolerances. If your engine is capable of overdriving the pump, a larger pulley should be used to slow it down.
Please ensure that the measurement is taken at the narrowest section of your engine well - particularly with tapered wells, as the cylinder tilts down with the motor. We need more information than simply the rudder dimensions, to give you peace of mind that the unit recommended will perform safely and correctly. Hydraulic steering systems have their place in several street-driving scenarios, too, though most are found on industrial or agricultural equipment operated at low speeds. The rule on metering valves is: The higher-volume (in cubic inches) valve you get, the faster the wheels will cycle through the range of movement.
POS, on the other hand, is a niche-focused company specializing only in fully hydraulic systems for extreme rockcrawlers and buggies. Likewise, the Howe ram-assist system we recently installed on our Baja Bomber project Dodge Ram is also working out great.
We were told that any rules prohibiting the use of fully hydraulic steering systems in the automotive aftermarket would fall under local laws. Keep in mind however, that for some boats which have plenty of available space, or have the motors mounted on pods, the OBKIT1 using the 210BH cylinder may be the most practical for installation to allow for boarding ladders, ski-ropes, or other obstacles. In heavy equipment, this ratio is roughly 3:1, meaning your reservoir should hold three times the volume of the system. First, calculate the total volume of the system, then figure out how much oil you will need to pass through the metering valve to get the ram to move through its entire range of motion. PSC Motor Sports covers all the niches of the industry, though some would argue that its mainstay is professional rock racing.
As of press time, we hadn't yet tested the PSC Motor Sports hydro-assist kit, but we did receive the system and will say it's probably one of the most complete kits on the market, leaving only two hoses for the consumer to source.
We suggest you check with your state's local transportation authorities if you question the legality of hydraulics. In any case, all three companies have very nice components for just about every budget level. A Jeep or buggy will typically see use on the weekends for recreational purposes only, so you really wouldn't need a 3-gallon power-steering reservoir.
Keep in mind how often you use your rig and how much time the system will actually run once installed. No common man is willing to invest the millions it took Caterpillar to develop a fully hydraulic steering system reliable enough to pilot its dump trucks down the road safely. In most cases, the supplier will have two or three different sizes of reservoirs to choose from. To help calculate how big your cylinder should be, consider this: The force a cylinder can generate is equal to the product of the piston area (sq.



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