1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Hydraulic Steering II

The hydraulic steering install took more time than I anticipated for a couple of reasons. First, the thieves cleaned me out in May 2014, which was right in the middle of the hydraulic line install. I spent the better part of two months dealing with insurance companies and installing all sorts of alarms and streaming cameras on the boat. Second, the Vetus steering pump and ram I bought at the Dania Flea Market a few years ago turned out to be metric.

I know…what the heck was I thinking?!?!?

The 3/8″ stainless tubing I bought for the hydraulic lines worked out really well, as did all of the tube clamps I got from Dell City. This stuff had all been sitting in boxes in my garage, awaiting the final installation in the boat. But when it came to actually putting it in, problems popped up like lawn mushrooms in autumn.

We’ve all used 10mm wrenches on 3/8″ bolts in a pinch, right? The difference between the two isn’t much: 3/8″  = 0.375″, while 10mm = 0.394 inches. I’ve even used SAE wrenches on ancient, worn out, metric bolts, and vice versa, and the fit has been better than a proper wrench. But when it comes to hydraulic lines, ten-thousandths matter and tens of thousandths is a gap through which rivers of oil can run. So, once I got past the insurance forms and started replacing essential tools, like my Swagelok tubing bender, the next step was to figure out a way to connect the metric Vetus hardware to the tubing.

10mm copper tubing to Swagelok connector to 3/8" stainless

Vetus pump to 10mm copper tubing to Swagelok connector to 3/8″ stainless

The shot above is the back-side of the helm station. The Vetus pump is bolted to the aluminum plate, which is screwed to the 3/4″ plywood that’s screwed to the helm bulkhead. I first considered swapping out the metric Vetus tubing ferrules and nuts, but it turns out that they use a funky British standard thread that’s close to SAE but not interchangeable. So, I found some 10mm copper tubing on British ebay and, fortunately, Swagelok makes adapters for just about every hydraulic connection imaginable. I set up a search on ebay, and within a month the Swageloks came up at a good price.

Original helm wheel hanging on a Vetus helm pump

Original helm wheel hanging on a Vetus helm pump

Eventually, I’ll re-skin the helm bulkhead with new veneer and make a mahogany cover for the pump. But that doesn’t have to happen before the boat goes in the water.

ER bulkhead with hydraulic and fuel supply and return lines fitted.

ER bulkhead with hydraulic and fuel supply and return lines fitted.

Steering and fuel lines are cut and loosely fitted

Steering and fuel lines are cut, bent, and loosely fitted

While the tank was out, I decided to install some chases to the stern

While the tank was out, I decided to install some chases to the stern

Rather than running all of the wires around the perimeter of the aft cabin, I decided to run them straight out under the tank. Chris Craft did that with the original wiring, but they just used loom clamps screwed to the framing. These boats originally came with “Ozzie and Harriet” bunks on either side, so there was tons of room under the center flooring that all vanished when I converted to a centerline fuel tanks.

I had some leftover 1-1/2″ PVC that I used to frame out Tent Model IX, so I used it for wiring chases to the transom.  The pinkish paint is actually from the same cans of Devoe 235 epoxy that I used to coat the bilge spaces after the boat was sandblasted inside and out. With the passage of time, the catalyst has changed color and tints the coating. I figure that since it’s out of sight and doesn’t affect other properties of the coating, I don’t care. It does look goofy, though.

Hydraulic lines and wire chases...CHECK!

Hydraulic lines and wire chases…CHECK!

Fwd hydraulic lines are in place, but loose so they don't get in the way of the fuel tank.

Fwd hydraulic and fuel lines are in place, but loose so they can be rotated out of the way of the fuel tank as it goes back into place.

Original stern wiring is in place in one chase. The other chase is...just in case.

Original stern wiring runs through the stbd chase to the transom. The other chase is…just in case.

And back the 420 gallon fuel tank goes into its cradle

The 420 gallon fuel tank goes back into its cradle

"Getting Egyptian"

“Getting Egyptian”

Those bits and pieces of 1-1/2″ PVC pipe have been invaluable when moving big, heavy stuff, like my Miller Trailblazer 280 and compressor when I reconfigured Tent Model X.

Closed up "for good"

Closed up “for good” 8/11/14

Fuel lines rotated to their (eventually) final location.

Fuel lines rotated to their (eventually) final location.

I still have to fill the hydraulics and bleed the system, but first I’ve got to get the rudders reinstalled. Before I can do that, I need to get the props in. And before I can do that….the list goes on!

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Another Cool Tool

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