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Lesson 18

Steering gear
( )

The steering gear is one of the most

important services in the ship and its
main function is to control the ships

There are four main types of steering

gears employed for power operation of
the rudder( ),

(i) the steam steering gear,

(ii) the hydraulic steering gear,
(iii) the electric steering gear and
(iv) the electro-hydraulic steering gear.

The total system may be considered

made up of three parts: control
equipment, a power unit and a
transmission to the rudder stock( ).






The first part conveys( ) a signal

or desired rudder angle from the bridge
(wheel house).

The second one provides the force, when

required, to move the rudder to that

The third is the means by which the

movement of the rudder is

According to the way the steering gear is

operated, the steering gear may be
divided into three kinds: hand-steering,
followup ( ) steering and
automatic steering.

The electro-hydraulic gear is now the

most widely applied.

A two ram( ) hydraulic gear

consists of a hydraulic ram situated on
the port side of the tiller( ) and
another ram on the starboard side,

linked at their outer ends to the tiller arm

by a crosshead and swivel block(

Crosshead &
swivel block
Control rod

Tiller arm




Crosshead &
swivel block

the other ends of the rams working inside

their own hydraulic cylinders and pipes
connect these cylinders to a hydraulic

The tiller is firmly keyed to the rudder


The pump is of special construction and

may be axial or radial design.

The pump runs continuously in the same

direction driven by an electric motor,

and the position of a movable plate or a

floating ring inside the pump controls
the suction and discharge of the oil.

When the plate or ring is in mid position,

no oil is drawn;

when the plate or ring is moved in one

direction from mid position, oil is drawn
from one cylinder and discharged into
the other;

when the plate or ring is moved in the

opposite direction, the suction and
discharge of the oil is reversed in

The plate or ring is actuated by a control

rod which is attached at its outer end to
the hunting gear( ).

A four-ram hydraulic steering gear may

be fitted in large ships for greater
steering power, instead of the two-ram

It is simply a double two-ram unit, so

that the force of two diagonally opposite
rams can act on the tiller to produce
double the turning effect.

The pump control is moved by the

telemotor( )
through a floating lever.

The other end of this lever is connected

through a safety spring link to the rudder
stock or tiller.

The telemotor is the receiver of the

hydraulic remote control system from
wheel on the bridge.

The linkage through the floating

lever of telemoter, pump and rudder
stock forms the hunting gear.

The pump is only required to deliver

oil when the steering wheel is moved.

The hunting gear returns the pump

operating rod to mid position as soon as
the helmsman( ) stops turning the

When the rudder has moved through the

angle corresponding to the wheel
position, it will remain there until the
wheel and telemotor are moved.

If a heavy sea strikes the rudder, the shock

is transmitted through the tiller to the
rams, this cause a sudden increase in oil
pressure in one of the cylinders and the

If the pressure in the system rises to about 10

per cent above normal, double spring-loaded
relief valves allow the tiller to give way slightly
by by-passing a little of the oil into the other

The resultant displacement of the rudder,

tiller and ram crosshead moves the pump control
rod through the hunting gear and the tiller is
automatically brought back to its proper position.

The control equipment of

steering gears
Telemotor control The telemotor has
become, on many vessels, the standby
steering mechanism, used only when the
automatic steering fail.

It comprises a transmitter( ), a
receiver, pipes and a charging unit(

The transmitter, which is built into the

steering wheel console (

), is located on the bridge and the
receiver is mounted on the steering gear.

Two rams in the transmitter move in

opposite directions as the steering wheel
is turned.

The fluid in the cylinders of the

transmitter is therefore pumped down
one pipe line and drawn in from the

The pumped fluid passes through piping

to the receiver and forces the telemotor
cylinder unit to move.

The cylinder unit has a control

spindle( ) connected to it by a pin.

This control spindle operates the slipper

ring or swash plate( ) of the
variable delivery pump, which
controls the suction and discharge of the

Electrical control The electrical remote

control system is commonly used in
modern installations since

since it uses a small control unit as

transmitter on the bridge and is simple and
reliable in operation.

The control box assembly is mounted on

the steering gear.

Movement of the bridge transmitter

results in electrical imbalance and
current flow to the motor in the control

The motor drives, through a flexible

coupling( ), a screw
shaft, causing it to turn.

A screw block on the shaft is moved

and in turn moves the floating lever to
which a control rod is attached.

The control rod operates the slipper ring

or swash plate of the variable delivery

A cut-off lever( ) connected to the

moving tiller will bring the floating lever
pivot( ) and the lever into
line at right angles to the screw shaft
axis( ).

At this point the rudder angle will match

the bridge lever angle and the pumping
action will stop.

For local manual control, the electrical

control is switched off and a small
handwheel is connected to the screw

Rotation of the handwheel will move the

floating lever and bring about rudder
movement as described.

Steering gear testing Prior to a ships

departure from any port the steering gear
should be tested to ensure satisfactory

These tests should be:

1. Operation of the main steering gear.
2. Operation of the auxiliary steering gear or use
of the second pump which acts as the auxiliary.

3. Operation of the remote

control(telemotor) system or systems
from the main bridge steering positions.

4.Operation of the steering gear using the

emergency power supply.

5.The rudder angle indicator reading

with respect to the actual rudder angle
should be checked.

6.The alarms fitted to the remote control

system and the steering gear power units
should be checked for correct operation.

During these tests the rudder should be

moved through its full travel in both
directions and

and the various equipment items,

linkages, etc, visually inspected for
damage or wear.

The communication system between the

bridge and the steering gear
compartment should also be operated.


Most designs of positive displacement

mechanism are capable of acting as
pump or motor.

The principles of pumping have been

described previously, but if instead of
driving the shaft,

fluid is introduced into the inlet port at

some pressure then in many designs the
mechanism will rotate and in turn drive
the shaft.

External Gear, Vane and Axial Piston

geometries are generally reversible, with
detailed design differences between pumps and
motors to achieve optimum performance in
each case.

Speeds achieved are comparable with pumps

but without the practical restrictions( )
imposed by a prime mover, speeds up to 4,000
or 6,000 r/min are possible with smaller sizes.

Output torques vary between 21 n mile

(15 lbf ft) and 1,360 n mile (1,000 lbf ft)
for a typical range of piston motors.

Obviously, the relatively low output torque

from the majority of pump/motor equipment
results in the requirement for some form of
speed reduction gearbox in many cases to
achieve acceptable torque levels for winch
drives for instance.

This arrangement can be entirely

satisfactory but an alternative approach
is also possible using equipment of
inherently lower speed and higher output
torque capacity.

Slow Speed High Torque

A number of different designs of 'slow
speed' motors are available and are
commonly used in marine systems such
as winch drives.

Most are generally of much higher

capacity per revolution than the
pump/motor types described above.

One of these designs is radial piston unit,

such as five piston radial slow speed high
torque motor, with pistons and
connecting rods, operated via a single
throw eccentric( ).

Flow of fluid to and from pistons is

through the central pintle(

In the latest designs of this motor,

cam eccentricity( ) can be
varied through an independent
hydraulic supply, giving smoothly
varying capacity.

An example of an alternative design is

the radial piston multi-lobe(
) low speed high torque
motor( ).

This is similarly radial in operation but

the pistons operate inwardly(

the oscillating( ) movement being

obtained from an internal multi-lobed
cam profile( , ) around the

In a typical example, eight pistons run

against a six-lobe track(

Therefore, each of eight pistons makes

six oscillations in each revolution.

One feature of this type of motor is that

the number of working pistons can be
reduced by suitable internal porting,
thus obtaining the step change in
capacity referred to earlier.

Typically, ranges of this type of motor are

capable of developing between 500 n mile
(350 lbf ft) to 40,000 n mile (30,000 lbf ft)

with maximum speeds of 500 and 100

r/min, respectively, with certain
equipment, torques of 130,000 n mile
(95,000 lbf ft) are available directly with
a maximum speed of 16 r/min.

Any hydraulic circuit includes a variety
of valves to regulate pressure or flow
conditions to control force,torque, speed
and/or the direction of movement of
system output.

The large range of alternative

proprietary equipment available can be
considered for convenience in three
separate groups: Flow control, Pressure
control; Directional control.

In practice, all valves are available in

alternative forms for mounting either
directly into pipelines or on machined
manifold blocks and baseplates.

Pressure Control Valve

There are two main types of pressure
control valve-relief and reducing, the
basic difference being that the relief valve
is closed by a spring, and the reducing
valve opened by a spring.

Relief valves are used to protect the

system from over pressure and are of two
main types-direct acting and pilot

The direct acting relief valve is used for

controlling low flows and may be used for
pressures up to 172 bar (2,500lbf/in 2).

For higher pressures and larger flows,

pilot operated valves are used.

This type of valve, in conjunction with a

variable orifice and suitable circuitry(
), can be used for bleed off(
) control.

The pressure at which the valve opens

and controls can be adjusted by the
preload of the pilot valve spring.

Reducing valves are used to limit the

pressure in any particular portion of the
circuit, and again may be of direct acting
or pilot operated types.

Direct acting valves are used mainly for

providing a low flow and reduced
pressure for pilot operation of other
valves and for certain types of remote or
sequencing control.

Pilot operated units are used for greater

flow, and to limit the pressure applied to
certain equipment in the circuit.

When used in conjunction with a suitable

orifice, they may also be used to control
or limit flow as well as pressure.

Flow Control Valve

There are three main variants of this type
of control.
Restrictor( ), a simple
needle valve, creating a variable
restriction, effectively controls flow.

A significant disadvantage of this control

however, is that the flow is directly dependent
upon pressure, I.e. load and hence no unique
relationship exits between valve opening and

Accurate control of part speed may be

very difficult to achieve as the pressure is

The disadvantage mentioned above can

be overcome by using series flow control

Series flow control valves are used where

a number of operations have to be
carried out from one pumping set. The
valve functions in a similar way to the
reducing valve.

With a orifice downstream, any variation

in the flow through the orifice causes a
variation in pressure drop across the
both ends of the main valve piston and

and this, in turn, causes the main piston

to take up a new position to restore the
pressure drop across the valve opening
and flow to the original setting.

The bleed-off flow control valve is

basically similar to the pilot operated
relief valve and is used in conjunction
with an orifice in the supply line.

The valve can restore the pressure drop

across the orifice to the original valve.
Hence, the flowrate is not dependent
upon working pressure level.

Direction Control Valve

These valves, as their name implies, control the
direction of flow of the fluid in the system, and
are of three main types:
1. Positive seated type in which a ball or piston
moves on or off the seat;

2. Rotary spool( ) type in which the

spool rotates about its own axis;
3. Sliding spool type in which the spool moves
axially in bore. This is by far the most common

Sliding spool type valve may be

mechanically, manually, electrically or
hydraulically operated, or even a
combination of these.

A very common arrangement is to have a

solenoid( , ) operated
valve as a pilot in order to operate a main
valve hydraulically.

Directional control valves can have from

two to six ports, although three and four
are the most common.

It is usual to give the number of positions

of the spool and the number of flow paths
provided in the extreme positions.

For example, one which is very often used is a

three-position, four-way valve which has two
extremes and one central position, with two
flow paths in each extreme position making a
total of four in all.

Moving the spool or piston from one

extreme position to the other reverses the