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Hydraulic / Telemotor narrowboat rudder steering


David HK
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Is there a narrownboat specific kit for moving the rudder using telemotor hydraulic. I see plenty for outboards and widebeams / dutch barges with wheel steering but can't seem to find a beefy enough kit suitable for a narrowboat..

Are they homebrew kits? 

 

Would welcome some practical infor on how to make the conversion. Maybe even electical with linear acuators?

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9 minutes ago, David HK said:

Is there a narrownboat specific kit for moving the rudder using telemotor hydraulic. I see plenty for outboards and widebeams / dutch barges with wheel steering but can't seem to find a beefy enough kit suitable for a narrowboat..

Are they homebrew kits? 

 

Would welcome some practical infor on how to make the conversion. Maybe even electical with linear acuators?

I only know of two -

One that I crewed for a magazine article well back in the last century - and now you...

We thought it would be a new and different experience but in practice it was a pain and was only used whe it rained. That was on a French river thus not a lot of change of direction. Even so there was no 'feel' in the handling...

(Just saying)

  • Greenie 1
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Depends on why you want such a system. If there's a genuine need, fine. If not I suggest they've a waste of space.  Over the years I've sailed a number  of lumpy water boats with wheels, both m echanical and hydraulic (sometimes both) and tiller. Nothing is better for accuracy,  feel and general at one with a vessel  than  a tiller 

 

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42 minutes ago, David HK said:

Is there a narrownboat specific kit for moving the rudder using telemotor hydraulic. I see plenty for outboards and widebeams / dutch barges with wheel steering but can't seem to find a beefy enough kit suitable for a narrowboat..

Are they homebrew kits? 

 

Would welcome some practical infor on how to make the conversion. Maybe even electical with linear acuators?

 

I googled "telemotor hydraulic" because I don't understand why a hydraulic steering system would not be suitable for a narrowboat and what I found was it's a ship's system so probably far too large for a narrowboat. However, there are a number of hydraulic steering system that have been fitted to narrowboats. I don't see why a low speed narrowboat will put any more force on the rudder than a wide beam boat with a powerful engine. Swinging the rudder into a bank is likely to cause problems for any system.

 

I agree with the others who have said wheel steering systems are not easy to use or best suited to canal work.

 

I found a few when googling Boat hydraulic steering kit UK.

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A basis for a home brew kit may be the power steering system of an old forklift. Used to have a forklift that had a small oil tank, small hydraulic engine driven hydraulic vane pump, steering wheel with a control valve that was connected to a double ended hydraulic ram about 40mm bore.

This was very responsive and should be easy to adapt providing you have some engineering skills 

 

Edited by adrianh
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1) Telemotor Hydraulic refers to a non pumped liquid displacement, piston to piston arrangement. Loads of these kits for outboard setups. A powered hydraulic system will be total overkill and, yes, will have little feed back, wereas a telemotor system does.

 

2) Notwithstanding peoples personal preferences and experiences, we are looking to fit the system for a practical purpose.

 

3) What I am searching for is not experiences but info on systems. There is a dutch barge narrowboat design for sale on one of the FB pages and they have wheel steering. Maybe I will try and find it again and ask them. 

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I have experienced 2 boats with optional forward wheel hydraulic steering and both were a pain on a canal and the owners never used the wheel preferring to use the tiller. Part of the problem is steering a canal boat from the front is just not as simple somehow as from the rear.  I don't know why that should be but it is so.

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My NB is fitted with a hydraulic wheel steering set up.

It comprises of a Vetus Wheel and integral rotary pump unit driving a simple hydraulic ram mounted to an arm fixed to the rudder stock. Similar systems are fitted to many widebeam boats.

Using a free-wheel or bypass valve I can have tiller only with no hydraulics involved or wheel and obviously the tiller is still connnected, but I am able to remove the extension arm if I wish.

The use of the ram connected to the rudder stock means that total movement is restricted to 90 degress, ie 45 degrees either side of centre or midships. I cannot put my rudder over to 90 degrees but in reality it is not necessary.

Although the system can and has been used on narrow canals, somehow using the conventional tiller seems to be much better. Even though the wheel only requires one full turn to go from centre or midships to hard over either way, it just doesnt work so well.

However, when on wider canals and rivers the system is very useful.

I have recently done the Avon and Severn from Stratford to Tewkesbury and then to Stourport and having the use of the wheel was really nice as I was able to sit in a tall chair and basically steer with my foot most of the time.

 

As for the OP question in respect of 'telemotor' these would only be found on older vessels or where there is restriction on available space in the steering compartment. Modern ships/boats use hydraulic rams in various configurations usually dependent on rudder size and operating power required.

 

I have not seen many narrowboats with hydraulic steering set ups, but as it happens today I passed one near Chirk. The particular boat had a conventional tiller at the stern and in the bow a steering wheel and morse control for the engine. I would have liked to have been able to stop and take a closer look, but there was nobody araound at the time.

Edited by MarkH2159
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My comments for what its worth. Wheel steering is good for keeping warm and dry inside. Steering from the front is not easy, spatial awareness of where the back end  is doesn't work for me. A tiller is by far the best for steering backwards. Going forwards is much the same, tiller or wheel.  On balance I prefer a wheel. Vetus is a good starting point for the steering pump, in fact Vetus is a good starting point for information but you can always buy elsewhere when you have an idea of what you want. Any double acting (to and fro) cylinder will do so long as it can pivot to follow the arc of the little 'tiller' that will move the rudder (you don't need 'marine' stuff. If you use a too small pump with insufficient capacity at the wheel you will have many turns lock to lock. If your pump squirts 50cc into the ram for one turn of the wheel and your ram takes 1 litre from straight ahead to hard over that is going to be a lot of turns. You might lose a few degrees of steering lock because of geometry. Your local hydraulic dealer is going to be really useful for fiddly bits. Keep it simple! you do not need power assistance. Some people swear by a little tell tale instrument to tell them the rudder angle, I find them not worth the bother, I find 2-3 turns of the wheel from straight ahead to full over one way is about right. Good luck and others will know far more than me so feel free to take no notice of the above!

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As said, most hydraulic systems I have seen have a pump and the wheel end, both on boats and on light plant. Heavier plant is similar, but uses a powered/assisted orbitrol unit which would obviously hugely overkill. I have not seen a system using a ram at the wheel end.

 

I cant see why a system like that used for dutch barges, which are typically larger, couldn't be used on a narrowboat? Outboard systems are slightly different as its designed to suit an outboard, but the steering wheel end will be the same. As said, you need to match the CC per revolution of the pump, to the size of the ram, to ensure reasonable number of turns lock to lock. Fancier systems have twin rams, or a compensated twin gland ram, or similar, to gain the same fluid capacity on both sides of the ram.

 

Alternatively there are non hydraulic steering wheel systems. Our own narrowboat is wheel steering using a pinon and quadrant type system, on the back of the wheel is a small sprocket with a length of 'motorcycle' sort of size roller chain, each end of this is secured to a rope* which passes through a few pulleys to run down one side of the wheelhouse, and round the perimeter of the back deck, to feed into the quadrant, which is a semi-circular steel fabrication of around 2 ft diameter. This works well, and also provides a reasonable amount of 'feel' and self centering. It is not quite as fast or 'easy' as a tiler based system, but you get to sit down, and on a broad canal you can leave the (folding, wooden) wheelhouse up and stay dry.

 

*Originally 1980s plastic coated stainless steel outboard steering control line which is at least as much plastic coating as stainless steel, now 6mm pre-stretched polyester control line because it has a high breaking strain while also being able to make tight bend radius to confirm around commercially available pulleys that fit in the spaces available!

 

 

 

Daniel

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A few years ago I skippered a boat for a disabled friend, the Shropshire Lass hired from the Lyneal Trust.

 

https://www.lyneal-trust.org.uk/the-lass/

 

It was fitted with conventional tiller as well as hydraulic steering. I tried both but couldn't get on with the lack of feel of the wheel steering and difficulty in quickly finding dead ahead again.

 

I'm sure if you called the Lyneal Trust they could advise on how they achieved their hydraulic wheel steering.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks to all who contributed. Yes, I have now seen the vetus items. Was suprised I didn't find that sooner.

The thought about the cpacity of the steering pump is well made and will try and get the largest. The ram(s) will be a double acting cyliner I think. Depeneds how long a stroke I can get but If not adequate then I will just design a lever advantage mechanism to give me 90 Degs.

 

Thanks all again. 

 

Oh, the rope and pulleys info, that must have been designed by a RN Engineer. Read like an instruction manual for battle damage to the steering gear  and how to rig last ditch emergency steering !!  

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