Permeable Plastic Page 2

Maintenance Q & A — February 2005
By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Permeable Plastic
Part 2: Bleeding a hydraulic steering system, and more
 More of this Feature
• Moisture intrusion, and more
• Bleeding a hydraulic steering system, and more
• PMY Tries... Craftsmen Auto Loading Screwdriver

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Q&A Index

I suspect there is air in my hydraulic power-steering system. What is the procedure for bleeding it? T.D., via e-mail
With the engine cold and the ignition off, put your wheel all the way to port and remove the cap from the pump. A graduated dipstick should be attached. Add enough recommended fluid (usually automatic transmission fluid) to bring the level to the “full cold” mark on the dipstick. Replace the cap, and start your engine. Let it run for about 20 seconds, shut it off, and recheck the fluid level. Add fluid and recheck if needed.

Next, with the engine turned off, turn the wheel from lock to lock and recheck the fluid level. If there is air in the system, the fluid will be foamy. Continue turning the wheel until the bubbles disperse; this may take some time if you have a lot of air in the system.

After purging all the air from the system, start your engine and let it run at 1000 rpm. Turn the wheel from lock to lock and then back all the way to port. Shut down and recheck the fluid level. It should read between “add” and “hot” on the dipstick. Take the boat for a ride, and while doing some turning maneuvers, have some­one listen for any pump noise. If there is any, inspect all lines and connections for leaks. If you still have air problems, you may have a faulty pump.

What causes bottom paint to flake off in certain spots on a fiberglass boat? R.P., via e-mail
This is known as “mud cracking” or “mud flaking” and is usually caused by an underlying coat of anti­fouling paint that is incompatible with the topcoat. It can also be caused by improper surface preparation prior to applying the final coat or by contaminants left on before finishing.

The only way to fix this is to remove the bottom paint in the affected area, sand and clean the fiberglass surface, and apply new antifouling.

Need help with a maintenance problem? Write to Maintenance Q & A, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: No phone calls, please. Or visit the maintenance forum at

Next page > PMY Tries... Craftsman Auto Loading Screwdriver > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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