Originally Posted by codprawn
I have air in my system - about to bleed it. The steering is very "notchy" and jerky - I assume those are the symptoms with most makes.
The bleeding process needs lots of oil on mine - 2.5 litres. Basically you open a valve on the end of the ram - keep adding oil and spin the wheel pretty fast - it's a 3 man job.
I just bled my Seastar system. In my case, I had been using Automatic Transmission Fluid, and wanted to get back to regular hydraulic oil. Noticed afterwards that there are a couple of leak points: one at the helm shaft, and one end of the steering ram. Unfortunately, the hydraulic seals were on order at the time, so will have to do the procedure again soon.
I made up an adaptor to sit above the filler hole on the helm, and plumbed that into a plastic pitcher I used to enlarge the reservoir. A piece of tubing off the bleed valve at the ram went into another pitcher to hold the purged oil.
Spun the wheel one way, opened the bleed fitting on the extended ram side, and started turning the other way. After about a pint of fluid bled out, bubbles stopped appearing at the bleed, and I found that by gently slowing the wheel turn, the bubbles would not be sucked back into the ram, which gave me time to close the bleed valve. Repeated the procedure on the other side; went pretty smoothly.
Then, on a tip from someone else (found on some obscure boating forum), with both bleed screws closed, I turned the wheel all the way to one side, then the other way for a half to a full turn of the wheel, and back to the stop. Repeating this several times got a lot of smallish bubbles out of the helm (no idea where the air came from.) Repeated this turning the wheel the other way, and got more air out. All in all, it took about a half hour of working the wheel near-lock at either side to get the bubbles to stop appearing.
Steering was quite smooth and responsive afterwards (though it didn't lighten up as much as I anticipated it would.)
Sometime soon, I'll replace the helm shaft seal and the ram end seals, and hopefully that will take care of the leaks I've got. We'll see...