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Hydraulic steering upgrade to PT 175

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I have a 2005 Tracker PT175 with a Merc 60 FS. Has anyone had experience upgrading to hydraulic steering? Any recommendations would be appreciated! Torque steer is not a problem, the motor is trimmed nicely. The factory steering has always had approximately two inches of free play at the steering wheel. This may be normal, not sure. I  am just not comfortable with this and was hoping to get something more positive. I had a steering cable fail at a Swedge fitting on a stick steering back in the 70's which is in the back of my mind. The failure was at WOT in open water. 

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It's nice with any boat.  Most people just don't on smaller boats because of the expense. 

However, 2" of free is extreme and I would be finding the cause of that.  You probably have single cable steering which will usually have a little,

Start slowly rocking the steering wheel, then starting at it, start following it back tightening/repairing each point that has play.

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Take a look at the point the steering cable mounts to the engine. Have someone rock the steering wheel for you. If there is no slop at the outboard connection then your helm unit has the slop. The more cost effective and easier solution would be to replace the helm unit. That much slop is not normal and could be a sign that trouble is coming around the corner. Possibly the manufacturer and model number is still on the unit. If so I would contact them and see what unit will fit and give you better service.  Better yet West Marine offers kits from $75 to $250 that will replace the entire helm unit and cable. You could even choose the unit with anti feedback technology and tilt steering. That kit which included a new cable was less than $300. No matter which hydraulic system you choose they are going to cost at least $700. Baystar is the model for up to 150 outboards and that is what it costs.  

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I guess I just live in a different world or don't have the money to throw away some do.  I just prefer to diagnose/find the causes of problems and see what it takes to repair what I know to be a problem rather than spend a lot of time and money throwing parts at one.

I'm with the OP, if I was going to go through the trouble and expense of replacing the helm and cable, I would convert to hydraulic steering.   The last three boats I've had were hydraulic, the current one came with it, the other two I converted to it to get rid of the cable.  

Even if I was going back with a new cable system, I would upgrade to dual cable, and hydraulic is not that much more than a good, dual cable system, but as I say, "different strokes for different folks". 

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Way2slow I am confused.  I suggested he determine if the problem exist at the engine connection or at the helm unit.  If it is at the engine I would look to repair that connection, otherwise it is most likely in the helm unit.  Since he says it was that way from new I suspect it is the culprit.  West Marine and others sell SeaStar replacement units for as low as $75 . The most expensive kit, which has the anti feedback and tilt steering, was around $300.  How is that not finding the root of the problem and repairing what is know to be a problem. rather than spending a lot of time and money throwing parts at it?  Hydraulic steering is great, I have had it on two of my boats with larger outboards, but if I could replace a defective helm unit for less than $200 I would save my money.  The least costly hydraulic system is over $700 and some run well over $1200.

Most of the helm new units have their own "quick connect" style of connecting the cable so older ones may not work with them.  That is why the kits include a new cable as well

I consider a dual cable system to be a waste of money since he would have to also modify the engine to accept it.  I would upgrade to a hydraulic system instead, but it will cost at least double or more than he would spend on a good mechanical system like the ones Tracker is using on its new boats. 

OP maybe it is worth going to Bass Pro and sit in one of the new Tracker boats.  I think you will see they do not have that kind of slop. The factory is most likely using either SeaStar or Teleflex since they make most of the equipment found on today's new boats.

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I couldn't agree more. A dual cable system and a hydraulic system are both NOT the way to fix the issue.

 

Now if you really want the hydraulic system because they are nice, because they are, nothing wrong with that either. I just wouldn't spend that kind of money on that unless I was keeping the boat for awhile. 

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