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Pontoon Basics: Introduction to steering systems for pontoons, including hydraulic and power assist

Discussion in 'Technical Stuff' started by goldnrod24, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. goldnrod24

    goldnrod24 Moderator

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    I'm gonna do this like a wiki. If you have a contribution to this topic that contributes to the knowledge base, please add it. If you have questions about steering (like what is right for your application), go elsewhere in the club forum. I will monitor and delete all posts that do not add to the knowledge base, including opinions. You can express them elsewhere in the forums, too.


    Cable and pulley steering - the original outboard motor steering solution. A combination of thin cables and small pulleys that somewhat reduced steering effort (due to the pulley effect). It probably hasn't been installed as OEM for 40 (or more) years.

    Cable steering - a single cable housed in a sheath. No reduction in steering effort required, just a better arrangement than cable and pulley. Still installed today in low horsepower applications (below 90 horse or so).

    Hydraulic steering - Presently installed in many pontoons above 90 horsepower as OEM. DOES NOT reduce steering effort; mostly helps the motor stay on center and reduce wandering. The presence of a hydraulic cylinder on the motor mount is evidence of this kind of system. I'd wager a guess that 90% of present day pontoon boats are so equipped with hydraulic steering and the most common product names are Baystar or Seastar. Only the Seastar system can be electrically assisted.

    Electric power assist - Available as an option and piggybacked with the Seastar hydraulic system. This is the only system so far on this list that actually reduces the input necessary to turn the boat. Hydraulic alone? Nope. Electric over hydraulic? Yes. Do not ASSume that your boat has power steering if it is equipped with hydraulic steering.

    Internal power steering - This system is factory installed on high horsepower outboards and most I/O installations. On outboards, the system in completely self-contained and uses no external electric motor. On an I/O installation, the pump is attached to the engine block and turned by a pulley, just like the power steering pump on an automobile (which makes sense because most I/O motors are automobile engine-based).

    BayStar installation manual: http://www.seastarsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/964610C.pdf

    SeaStar installation manuals: http://www.seastarsolutions.com/sup...llation-manuals/seastar-installation-manuals/

    Power assist manual: http://www.seastarsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/298403H.pdf

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