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HYDRAULIC STEERING SYSTEMS - My boat has hydraulic steering, and some people have told me I can't use a Monitor servopendulum selfsteering system. Is this true?

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Consider how a hydraulic steering system works - The steering wheel operates a pump, which forces fluid through tubing to a piston or ram affixed to the tiller arm. Over time, almost all such systems will develop 'bleed' in the pump or piston. The relative position of the wheel and rudder will then begin to change as you steer. This does not affect accuracy when you are hand steering because you are holding to a compass course or visual sighting, and are constantly making small corrections all the time. If a servopendulum selfsteering system is rigged to the wheel, however, the boat will gradually fall off course because the windvane cannot recognize the shift in wheel position - it still 'thinks' the twelve o'clock spoke corresponds to an amidships rudder when the rudder actually has become several degrees off from that. There is a solution allowing Monitor installation on hydraulically-steered boats, if an emergency steering fitting is available on deck (not below under the bunk in an aft-cabin boat!). A tiller is rigged to the emergency steering fitting, facing any convenient direction - forward, aft, or even sideways, as long as the blocks for the operating lines can be installed. A bypass valve should be rigged around the steering ram to eliminate back pressure in the steering system, and a remote push-pull operating cable for the valve run up to a convenient place in the cockpit. With the valve opened and the operating lines engaged on the tiller, the Monitor will selfsteer the same as with any tiller-fitted boat.

For aft-cabin boats where the emergency tiller is below, or if there just isn't any tiller fitting, we recommend our Auto-helm windvane. Since it is an auxiliary rudder system, operating independently of the boat's own rudder, no connection is needed to the wheel. See our Auto-helm pages for complete information.

A Monitor on a catamaran with hydraulic steering

In 1997 we sold a Monitor to Hannes Hartjenstein for his 49-foot catamaran "Vite Vite". We did not hear from him again until 2003, when we received an e-mail from him. He had taken his boat around the world, using his Monitor, with no steering problems.

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