Tuesday, June 09, 2009

D’oh!

On Sunday we installed a brand new hydraulic steering pump. The pump sits behind the steering wheel, and has hoses connected to it. When the wheel is turned, the pump squirts hydraulic steering fluid into the appropriate hose. The fluid runs down the hose and applies pressure to the hydraulic steering ram, which then directs the rudder to point in the appropriate direction.

We installed brand new hoses on Sunday as well. The hoses start at the pump, and run down the steering column through the floor of the cockpit and into the pantry below. We secured the hoses to the ceiling of the pantry, and then ran them down the aft wall into the engine room. The hoses were secured to that wall, and then were run beneath it, just above the propeller shaft, and then curved upward under our bed in the master stateroom. Just aft of our bed is the hydraulic ram which controls the rudder on the outside of the boat.

We handled the hoses as if they were constructed out of radioactive material. Over the course of pulling them though all those twists and turns they could chafe on any sharp edges and eventually rupture and leak—just like the old ones had. We hooked them up to the autopilot mechanism, which is located under Todd’s side of the bed, where his torso lies when he’s sleeping. We secured the hoses into place, attached them to the pump, the ram and the autopilot.

Then we attached the steering wheel to the pump. The hub of the steering wheel does not fit the new pump. The wheel now too loosely hangs on the pump, and the wheel jiggles as if to say “If you try to steer with me I am going to fall off and you’ll be left holding a steering wheel attached to nothing. And then you’ll hit something.”

In my experience, with boat restoration, when we solve one problem we’re often faced with another. But this time the problem is a bit larger. How the heck are we going to steer this boat?

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