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Sea Star Fill & Purge Instructions and Troubleshooting




Technical Reference Manual



SeaStar Fill & Purge Procedure:


READ FIRST: These instructions show how to fill and purge a Single Station Front Mount Cylinder system. The same steps apply to Single Station Side Mount systems, the difference being which bleeder to open and close and the direction the cylinder rod moves. These variations are inset diagrams on the left at each step. For dual station and/or dual cylinder filling and purging instructions, see the bottom of the next page, then proceed with Steps 1 through 5.

This procedure requires two people. One person may not be able to remove all the air from the system, which will mean spongy, unresponsive steering. (This is the manual air removal procedure; SeaStar Power Purge and Power Purge Jr. bleeding systems make this task much more efficient.)

During the entire filling procedure, oil must be visible in the filler tube. Do not allow the oil level to disappear into the helm this may introduce air into the system and increase your filling time.

HYDRAULIC OIL REQUIREMENTS: two quart bottles for single station and single cylinder systems. One additional bottle for each additional helm, cylinder, or auto pilot.

NOTE: These instructions will result in hydraulic oil flushed in and out of the system. Oil can be reused if filtered through a fine mesh screen such as the kind used for gasoline. If unable to filter oil, an additional bottle of oil is required. "Bleeder" may refer to cylinders with either bleed tee fittings or bleed screws. If fitted with bleed tee fitting, open bleeder by unscrewing bleed nipple nut two turns. If cylinder is fitted with bleed screws, open bleeder by removing bleed screw completely. Just loosening bleed screw will not cause sufficient oil fl ow to purge system. (Helm filling can be done faster if oil is poured into the helm prior to connecting filler tube and oil bottle.)



SeaStar Fill & Purge, Single Station- One Cylinder

steering helm adding oil

Step 1: Screw the threaded end of the filler tube into the helm filler hole. Remove the cap from the oil bottle and holding upright, screw into the filler tube bottle cap. Turn bottle upside down and poke hole in the bottom of the bottle. Fill the helm pump full of oil (oil should always be visible in the filler tube). Use the next bottle at any time through out the procedure when the oil level drops in the filler tube. Do not proceed with Step 2 until helm is full of oil.

Step 2: Turn the steering wheel clockwise until cylinder rod is fully extended on the right side of the cylinder. Open right side bleeder.




Step 3: Holding the cylinder rod (to prevent it from moving back into the cylinder), turn the steering wheel counter clock wise until a steady stream of airfree oil comes out of the bleeder. (Drain out about 1/2 bottle of oil as required.) Use only your hands to restrain the cylinder rod. Do not use vise grips, pliers or other metal tools to stop cylinder rod from moving - these tools can damage the cylinder rod, causing leakage to occur. Ordinary hand strength is sufficient to hold the rod. While continuing to turn the wheel, close the right side bleeder and let go of the cylinder rod.

Step 4: Continue turning the steering wheel counter clock wise until the cylinder rod is fully extended to the left. (Steering wheel will come to a stop). Open the left bleeder.








Step 5: Holding the cylinder rod to prevent it from moving back into the cylinder, turn the steering wheel clockwise until a steady stream of air-free oil comes out of bleeder. Use only your hands to restrain the cylinder rod. While continuing to turn the wheel, close the left side bleeder and let go of the cylinder rod. Fill and purge is now complete. When properly bled, the number of steering wheel turns should match those on the SeaStar Ordering Guide (for single cylinder) in the section of this catalog for the cylinder type used.




Fill & Purge, Dual Station, Single Cylinder

Perform Steps 1 through 5 at Station No. 1. Then repeat Steps 1 through 5 at Station No. 2. Oil requirements 4-5 bottles.

When properly bled, the number of steering wheel turns should match those on the SeaStar Ordering Guide (for single cylinder) in the section of this catalog for the cylinder type used.






Fill & Purge, Single Station, Dual Cylinder

When performing Steps 1 through 5, perform instructions in each step first on Cylinder No. 1 and then on Cylinder No. 2, before proceeding to the next step. (Perform instructions referring to "right side" of cylinder first on Cylinder No. 1 and then on Cylinder No. 2.) Oil requirements 4-5 bottles.

When properly bled, the number of steering wheel turns should match those on the SeaStar Ordering Guide (for dual cylinders) in the section of this catalog for the cylinder type used.






Fill & Purge, Dual Station, Dual Cylinder

Follow same procedure as shown above for single station dual cylinders, beginning at Station No. 1, and repeat entire procedure at Station No. 2.

When properly bled, the number of steering wheel turns should match those on the SeaStar Ordering Guide (for dual cylinders) in the section of this catalog for the cylinder type used.




U.S./Metric Conversion Chart




Hydraulic Steering Troubleshooting Guide


WARNING: Whenever in the following text, a solution calls for removal from vessel and/or dismantling of steering system components, such work must only be carried out by a qualified marine hydraulic mechanic.

Teleflex offers the following as a guide only and is not responsible for any consequences resulting from incorrect dismantling and/or repairs.

SeaStar steering will provide years of safe reliable performance with a minimum of service if properly installed with the correct cylinder.

SeaStar systems have been designed with protection against over pres sure situations by a pressure relief valve.

Sometimes when returning the wheel from hard over position, a slight resistance may be felt and a clicking sound heard. This should not be mistaken as a fault it is a normal situation caused by release of the lockspool.

Most faults occur when the installation instructions are not followed and usually show up immediately upon filling the system.

Below are the most common faults and their likely cause and solution.


1. During filling, the helm becomes completely jammed:

  • a. Blockage in the line between the helm(s) and the cylinder(s).
  • SOLUTION: Make certain that hose has not collapsed during installation. If so, the collapsed section must be removed and refitted with a new piece with the aid of tube connectors. Check fittings for incomplete holes. Fittings with incomplete holes, however, are not common.
  • b. Using unbalanced (side mount) cylinder with SeaStar Pro Helm.
  • SOLUTION: Use balanced cylinder or Standard SeaStar Helm.

1. System is difficult to fill. Air keeps burping out top of help even after system appears full:

  • a. Cylinder(s) has been mounted upside down. This causes air to be trapped in the cylinder(s).
  • SOLUTION: Mount cylinder(s) correctly, according to cylinder installation instruction. Ports/fittings should always be kept in uppermost position.
  • b. Air in system.
  • SOLUTION: Review filling instructions.
  • c. Bleed fitting leaking.
  • SOLUTION: Tighten bleed fitting.
  • d. Coiled hose.
  • SOLUTION: Uncoil or straighten the hose.

3. Steering is stiff and hard to turn, even when vessel is not moving:

  • a. Knurled adjusting nut on tilt tube over tightened.
  • SOLUTION: To test, disconnect cylinder(s) from the tiller arm and turn the steering wheel. If it turns easily, correct above-mentioned problems. Please note that excessively loose connections to tiller arm or tie-bar can also cause mechanical binding.
  • b. Restrictions in hose, tubing or fittings.
  • SOLUTION: Find restriction and correct. NOTE: Kinked hose will cause stiff steering and should be replaced.
  • c. Cylinder interfering with engine cowling.
  • SOLUTION: Loosen adjusting nut.
  • d. Air in oil.
  • SOLUTION: See filling/purging instructions supplied with helm units.
  • e. Wrong oil has been used to fill steering system, like ATF (automatic transmission fluid, or any other oil with a high viscosity factor).
  • SOLUTION: Drain system and fill with one of the recommended oils.

4. One helm unit in system is very bumpy and requires too many turns from hard over to hard over:

  • a. Dirt in helm pump's inlet check.
  • SOLUTION: Dismantle check valves, remove contaminant. Refer also to Fault #6.

5. Steering is easy to turn at the dock, but becomes hard to turn when vessel is underway:

  • a. Steering wheel is too small.
  • SOLUTION: Fit larger wheel if possible, see installation instructions. If the problem cannot be rectified by the above mentioned solution, proceed with next cause and solution or consult factory.
  • b. Incorrect setting(s) of engine(s) trim tab(s).
  • SOLUTION: Adjust tabs. Refer to engine manual.

6. Engine drifts to port or starboard while vessel is underway, even when wheel is not being turned:

  • a. Dirt in check valves.
  • SOLUTION: Remove check valve plugs. These are the larger plugs on either side on the rear of the helm. Clean ball seats and balls and reassemble. NOTE: Be prepared to lose a certain amount of oil during this procedure. Have a small can available. Refill & purge the system when check valves have been reassembled.

7. Turning one wheel causes second steering wheel to spin:

  • a. Dirt in check valves.
  • SOLUTION: Remove check valve plugs. These are the larger plugs on either side on the rear of the helm. Clean ball seats and balls and reassemble. NOTE: Be prepared to lose a certain amount of oil during this procedure. Have a small can available. Refill & purge the system when check valves have been reassembled.

8. Seals will sometimes leak if steering system is not vented at uppermost helm:

  • a. The helm seal is worn out.
  • SOLUTION: The SeaStar helm has a field replaceable wheel shaft seal which can be readily replaced by removing the steering wheel and seal cover held in place by three small screws. Quad ring #210 is found in SeaStar helm seal kit Part Number HS5151. NOTE: Seal kits are available for SeaStar cylinders, however, these must only be used by a qualified marine mechanic.


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