Why can’t I steer?

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: - TONY REPLIES… via the CB

I have just bought a 25ft GRP riverboat with an hy­draulic out­drive. When I take it out on the canal the steer­ing is all over the place. Do you have any ideas what could be wrong?


QI’m not sure whether you mean an hy­draulic power lift to take the leg out of the wa­ter, hy­draulic steer­ing, or hy­draulic trans­mis­sion – but here are some things to con­sider…

Un­less the leg has a rud­der added, the boat will not steer when in neu­tral and will be dif­fi­cult to keep straight at low speeds. You can buy or make an add-on rud­der.

Some small boats had bolt-on wooden keels: check that it’s still there.

If some­thing were par­tially seized up it would make the steer­ing stiff, giv­ing th­ese symp­toms.

Hy­draulic steer­ing sys­tems need to be kept topped up (the filler is of­ten be­hind the board the steer­ing wheel as­sem­bly is fixed to) and if oil has been lost, the sys­tem may need bleed­ing. That would cause steer­ing prob­lems.

The boat might be in­cor­rectly trimmed – for ex­am­ple af­ter the en­gine is changed for a dif­fer­ent one.

Fi­nally, if you are used to a well set-up tiller-steered boat, switch­ing to a wheel and leg drive will take some get­ting used to.


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