Hydraulic Steering

Hydraulic Steering Options for Outboard and Stern Drive Boats
Brand Outboards Up to V6
(50 MPH or less)
Outboards V6 & Up
(60 MPH & up)
Stern Drives
SeaStar Solutions
  • Bay Star (Up to 150 HP)
  • Seastar
  • SeaStar Pro
  • SeaStar Stern Drive
  • SeaStar Power Assist
  • Protech I
  Hydraulic Steering Options for Inboard Boats
Brand Inboards
(up to 34 feet)
(up to 50 feet)
(over 50 feet)
SeaStar Solutions
  • SeaStar
  • Hynautic Inboard
  • Seastar Power Assist
  • SeaStar
  • Capilano Inboard
  • Hynautic Inboard
  • SeaStar Power Assist

Boat Hydraulic Steering How-Tos

Learn About Outboard Marine Hydraulic Steering by Seastar Solutions

The basic components of hydraulic steering include helm pumps, steering cylinder and steering lines. Hydraulic steering is ideally fitted to many types of steering applications including outboard engines, inboard/outboard engines, inboard gas and diesel engines for boats up to 100 feet in length.

Sea Star Solutions is the steering leader worldwide with the following brand names. These are Bay Star, Sea Star, Sea Star Pro, Sea Star Tournament, Hynautic and Capilano. While the systems can vary in sizes and capacities, one aspect remains consistent. It's our dedication to deliver you the safest most comfortable steering performance for any vessel no matter the engine type or application.

The Sea Star Helm Pump is a manually operated rotary helm and is the heart of the hydraulic steering system. Sea Star helm pumps are the product of many years of research and experience by the world's foremost builders of manually hydraulic steering systems. It features the following components. These are a helm rotor supported by three roller bearings, a ball bearing piston race, a field replaceable shaft seal, a quarter inch NPT ports, a built-in lock valve for positive rudder lock, patented bleed tubes, an internal oil packet that eliminates oil expansion overflow and an integral relief valve.

How much fluid pump through revolution is directly related to wheel turns and effort? Low displacement equals easy steering and more wheel turns. Five is ideal. High displacement equals heavier steering and less wheel turns. Get power resists. It's all about leverage. You'll find the helm displacement stamped under the tip of the wheel shaft.

Sea Star Solutions makes three types of outboard steering cylinders. These are Sea Star, Bay Star and Hynautic. The cylinder is a key component at any hydraulic steering system as it ultimately carries the load of the engine. Each cylinder is designed to meet or exceed the engine manufacturer's horsepower rating and specify for specific horsepower range. It is critically important to ensure that the cylinder is the correct one for your engine application. Please refer to the application guides listed in our literature on our website. You will find the application guide in the attachment tab to the left of your screen.

Bay Star and Sea Star assemblies are specifically match to the steering systems' application and corresponding workloads. Steering lines or hoses may seem like a small part of the system however it is critical to match the proper hose with the system requirements. Mismatch or inferior quality hoses will compromise the overall system performance, increasing the steering effort and affecting the user's overall steering.

We will discuss the proper hoses with each system covered in this module. If you have any further questions on hose specifications, please refer to our application guides that could be found on our website. You will find the application guide in the attachment tab to the left of your screen.

Proper installation and bleeding of the hydraulic system is critical to the system's performance so that the system is completely purged. Hydraulic systems that are not fully purged can seem soft and mushy, experience no hard stop to the wheel or may feel jerky and/or bumpy. Please refer to Sea Star Installation Manual for proper bleeding instructions.

The first system we will review is the Bay Star Hydraulic System. Bay Star meets the need for smaller boats with rating up to 150HP. Bay Star is perfect for RIB inflatable boats, small runabouts and weekend sport fishing boats. When specifying the Bay Star system, it is important to remember the following guidelines. Bay Star is not intended for high performance engines. Bay Star is not intended for boat engine applications above 55mph. Bay Star is designed to be used on boats with a maximum transom rating of 150HP. Do not exceed 150HP for transom rating at any time. Bay Star is not intended for use on commercial boats and pontoon boats.

Bay Star is available in a complete kit, which includes the steering cylinder, the helm pump and all the tubing. Before specifying a Bay Star system, always check the following. Does it fall under the application guideline in our manuals or online? Do you need a spacer kit or the right adapters for different OEM engine configurations? Will the cylinder fit the Splashwell? Will the Bay Star helm fit the space behind the dash? And, Does the system meet the right engine/steering application?

When specifying Sea Star systems for single and twin engine applications, you need to keep in mind that these systems are designed for a wide range of engine and steering applications. Sea Star is specifically engineered for engine horsepower applications with the following limits. These are engines and boats that do not exceed 55mph, engines and boats that do not exceed the total maximum horsepower rating, which is 350HP and finally Sea Star systems should not be installed in an aggressively driven boat.

The components of Sea Star Outboard Steering System include the following. These are one-steering cylinder, one helm pump and two each of Sea Star steering fluid. The ultimate steering for high speed single outboards' Sea Star Pro is designed for the high speed and performance of today's top end Bass boats. Recommended for single outboards up to 350HP even with jack blades and performance props, Sea Star Pro has steered the Bass Masters Classic since 1994 and it's the choice of high performance outboard boat builders.

In addition to single engine Bass boats, Sea Star Pro is ideally suited for boats that exceed 60mph, have flat bottom hulls and are currently being steered with a mechanical Dual Rack system. Patented steering helm valves allows for precise control because the better the control and the faster the speed, the more fish and the safer ride. Also included is higher pressure setting to handle high load and high torque engines. Sea Star Pro is available in a complete kit, the HK7400A and comes with the following. These are one titbit mount steering cylinder, one Sea Star Pro front-knot helm pump and two quartz of Sea Star oil.

When specifying Sea Star Pro's steering systems, you need to please keep the following in mind. Always specify Sea Star Pro hoses, which are Kevlar 1500 PSI Lines that will handle the higher steering pressures found on high speed applications. Never specify standard hoses or tubing. Never use an unbalance steering cylinder. It will lock up. And finally, never specify a Bay Star steering cylinder in this application.

Sea Star Tournament Series cylinders and tie bars are essential for high performance multi-engine boats and recommended by Blue Water Pros. These ragged high performance cylinders and tie bars are designed with professional fishermen in mind. These cylinders and tie bars are perfect for tournament fishing boats, boat speeds usually exceeding 60mph, centre console fishing boats and boats with high horsepower engine of 300+.

Incorrectly specified equipment will affect the performance and worst case, safety. The Sea Star Tournament cylinders feature the following unique features. It has a secondary end gland retention using plate bolts, stainless steel wear washer, bolt-on stainless steel tie bar plates that are reversible, robust barrel shaft support brackets, adjustable threaded design, maximum stroke indicator, anodized aluminium body, stainless steel rod ends, adjustable 90 degrees stainless steel ORB elbow fittings and robust wipers and seals.

The proven performance of Sea Star Power Assist makes it highly recommended on any outboard application 200HP and above to give your boat the same easy steering you are accustomed to in your car. It is also recommended for the following. It is for twin and triple engine applications, Bass boats, power catamarans, non-powered inboard/outboard engines, inboard powered cruisers without engine driven power assist and Pontoon and Tritoon boats.

The Sea Star Auto Pilot Pump is a fixed-flow reversible type set that uses an internal hydraulic gear pump producing very little vibration or noise. It is offered in 12 and 24 volt configurations as well as two different pump sizes, which are type one and type two. It can be used as a stand-alone pilot pump or can be mounted into a previously installed Sea Star Power Assist unit and can prevent the need to break into the hydraulic lines. Features include a long life DC motor, compact design, simplified installation, low power consumption, ABYC, CE and J1171 compliant, superior corrosion resistance, quiet operation and an included mounting bracket.

Tilt steering gives you the ultimate in tilt steering technology and delivers unsurpassed performance and flexibility making it the perfect system for all possible applications and boat types. Features include preloaded dual taper bearings that ensure minimal excess free play, smooth operation and feel, shaft seals that prevent water ingress, 48 degrees of tilt articulation, five positive lock positions, and a compact footprint that is maintenance free and tilt steering fits most styled and formed dashes.