Archive | Stabilizers

Bringing New Life Back to an Older 112’ Westport Yacht

We are seeing a growing number of new owners of older 112’ Westports. This “Made in America” production boat has a lot to offer but many of these vessels are purchased without a solid maintenance history. Nevertheless, their new owners/Captains still want to bring them back to life.  In order to do that, sometimes a total refit of the vessel is required.

One of these new owner refits spent a few months at LMC getting a full paint job, mechanical upgrades, interior work and hydraulic systems overhaul and refurbishing. Our capable team of hydraulic technicians was tapped to handle all the hydraulic projects.

Starting with the Naiad stabilizer system, we did a full rebuild including removing the shafts and bearings.  The entire stabilizer actuator system was also rebuilt back to new.  The stabilizer shaft had some corrosion in the lip seal area from sitting too long in salt water so our on-site machine shop, Straight Line Marine, performed a cladding repair.

We then moved on to work on the entire hydraulic central system where we performed a full hydraulic fluid flush, cleaned and pressure tested the heat exchangers and changed all the filters.

In the engine room, we found that we needed to change a large number of the hydraulic hoses.  Hydraulic hoses have a 10-year life and can cause huge problems when they fail on the high-pressure side so it is very important to inspect and replace them during routine service.

We also did a little work on the bow thruster, installing new seals in the lower leg, adding fresh gear oil and testing the hydraulic motor.

Stainless steel ring on main gear

Our team did a full rebuild on the single Maxwell 4500 windlass on the bow, down to the gear box including installing new seals and bearings.  As part of the rebuild, Straight Line Marine also fabricated new stainless steel rings for the main gears to help prevent future gear oil leaks around the lip seals. We also replaced the small Maxwell 2500 capstans in the stern with new electric units due to the cost of installing new versus re-building these smaller units.

We found the steering system to be in good shape.  There were no leaks on the cylinders so these were left alone.  We did, however, replaced a few hoses and upgraded some of the ball valves to stainless steel to help prevent future corrosion.  Finally, we changed the fluid and filters.

This was a big job from start to finish but our talented hydraulic technicians, supported by our in-house machine shop, were more than capable of tackling every hydraulic system from bow to stern and everything in between.

Repair, Service and Maintenance for Vosper Stabilizers

It is not uncommon to find Vosper stabilizers in many older yachts and ships. What is uncommon these days is to find a company that specializes in the repair, service and maintenance of the older units. VT Motion, the company that supplied Vosper stabilizers, was acquired by Naiad in 2009 and absorbed into its Naiad Maritime Group.

Increasingly, we hear from many ship’s captains and owners that when they seek to maintain their Vosper stabilizers, they are often urged or even forced to upgrade and replace these stabilizers with newer models. It seems that the major stabilizer companies are shying away from Vosper in lieu of recommending a major upgrade – an upgrade that can be expensive and time consuming.

At High Seas Hydraulics, we specialize in the repair, service and maintenance of all types of stabilizer systems including Vosper, Naiad, Quantum and others. If you are looking for expert hydraulic technicians to work on your stabilizer systems, whether older models like Vosper or newer ones on the market today, look no further than High Seas Hydraulics.


Need Running Gear and Hydraulic Work Done on your Yacht – Work with Us

A 106’ Westport yacht was recently hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center for a variety routine maintenance projects including shaft work, bearing replacements and an overhaul on several hydraulic systems. To streamline the process and help the captain and crew better manage the project, they contracted with both High Seas Yacht Service for the running gear portion and High Seas Hydraulics to handle the hydraulics work.

Our running gear mechanics inspected the shafts to ensure they were straight and aligned and replaced the bearings and seals. Normal wear and tear associated with running the vessel and prolonged exposure to salt water makes this task a necessary evil for properly maintaining the boat. As seen in the adjacent photo, there was a visible gap where the cutlass bearing adjoined to the shaft.

We were also commissioned to replace the seals on the lower stabilizer fins. ABT Trac, one of the more popular brands, recommends changing the lower stabilizer fin seals every couple of years but at least every six years depending on use. The components on the stabilizer are constantly working except is absolute calm seas, so the wear and tear can be considerable. After dropping the fins, we proceeded to change out the old lower stabilizer fin seals with new ones, check the hoses and cylinders, then reassembling the units.

In addition to the routine maintenance on the stabilizer systems, we flushed the entire hydraulic system using the simple drain, filter, fill approach commonly referred to in our shop as a DFF. This type of flush is more of an “oil change” and is part of routine maintenance. It is not appropriate where a more serious condition such as water, metal particles or other contaminants are found in the oil. The process calls for draining the hydraulic tank, changing out the filters and refilling the tank with hydraulic fluid.

To round out the work on this Westport, we did an overhaul on the bow thruster, single Maxwell windlass, the boat’s heat exchangers and the hydraulic steering system which was slow to respond.

From running gear to hydraulics, our teams at High Seas Yacht Service and High Seas Hydraulics, make easy work of maintaining the systems that make your vessel safe and operating smoothly.

Keeping your ABT Trac Stabilizers in Top Working Order

To keep your stabilizers in top working order, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended scheduled maintenance to ensure smooth sailing in rough seas. ABT Trac, one of the more popular brands, recommends changing the lower stabilizer fin seals every couple of years but at least every six years depending on use. The components on the stabilizer are constantly working except is absolute calm seas, so the wear and tear can be considerable.

Dropped Fin

When an 80-foot Limon Heesen yacht was hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center, our team at High Seas Hydraulics was tasked with changing out the lower stabilizer fin seals. We first had to drop the fins from the vessel before accessing the lower stabilizer fin seals. It is important when having this service performed on your yacht that you select a yard and a hydraulics company that has the proper tools and training to perform the job.

At High Seas Hydraulics, we believe in investing in our technicians to further hone their skills. That is why we have send some of our hydraulics technicians to ABT Trac for training on their systems. Those technicians are now Factory Trained and Certified to work on all types of ABT Trac systems.

New lower seal

After dropping the fins, we proceeded to change out the old lower stabilizer fin seals with new ones, apply motor oil, check the hoses and cylinders, then reassembling the units before sea trialing the boat to ensure everything was in proper working order.

Stabilizers are an important component in keeping your yacht comfortable and safe when encountering rough seas.

Whether you need both Hydraulics and Running Gear Work – High Seas Delivers

When an 85-foot Ocean Alexander hauled out at Lauderdale Marine Center recently, the vessel needed repairs on both her hydraulic stabilizer systems and running gear work along with a general re-fit and painting.

The Captain hired us for the hydraulic and running gear work to streamline the process and have the work performed using a single point of contact for the job. Our team of hydraulic technicians at High Seas Hydraulics tackled the routine maintenance on the ABT Trac stabilizer systems, while our running gear mechanics at High Seas Yacht Service pulled the shafts and sent them to our machine shop, Straight Line Marine for straightening. Once the shafts were ready for re-installation, we used an optical scope to ensure precision alignment.

This Captain was on a tight deadline for launching and working with our teams gave him the peace of mind that he would be on his way on schedule. Using High Seas Hydraulics and High Seas Yacht Service for this project made perfect sense for coordination and project management to get the job done right and right on time.

When Small Problems Become Big Issues

When a 58’ Kady Krogen trawler recently hauled out at Lauderdale Marine Center, our running gear company, High Seas Yacht Service was hired to pull the props and shafts for a routine cutlass bearing and seal service. High Seas Hydraulics was also hired to do routine service on the ABT Trac hydraulic stabilizer systems.

Damaged threads on shaft

Once we dropped the stabilizer fin in order to replace the lower shaft seals, we found the threaded stud on the bottom of one of the shafts was damaged and had signs of thread damage and galling.  This was most likely from a stainless steel nut on stainless steel threads that was installed and removed without the proper never seize.  This compromised the re-installation of the stabilizer fin nut so we recommended removing the shaft to repair it in our machine shop, Straight Line Marine. Once in the machine shop, we found that the stabilizer shaft was bent 0.080” which is significant for a stabilizer shaft. When we started the straightening process, which involves applying hydraulic force on the high point of the shaft the stabilizer cracked in two.  That was a first – never had that happen before.  Under examination of the broken ends it is evident that a crack in the shaft had worked its way to 20% through – we just finished off the job.

Cracked shaft


This particular vessel is under new ownership so there is limited history as it relates to past problems and repairs. Obviously, this stabilizer was badly damaged at some point in the past. In all likelihood, the boat probably hit something or experienced a hard grounding which lead to a crack in the stabilizer shaft. Over time, these cracks tend to creep and grow.

We were able to source a new stabilizer shaft from the manufacturer and complete the overhaul on the hydraulic stabilizer system.

We have never experienced a stabilizer shaft cracking in two before in our machine shop, but it just goes to show that a small thing such as damaged threads can be a warning sign of bigger issues.

Stabilizer shaft cladding to repair corrosion found during 10 year service process

A 130 foot Westport Yacht was recently hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center for routine service and maintenance. While in the yard, High Seas Hydraulics was contracted to overhaul the stabilizers and perform a standard 10 year service process on them.

Stabilizer shaft cladding

Once the stabilizers were removed, we found that the stabilizer shafts were corroded to the point that we needed to call on our machine shop, Straight Line Marine, to perform a process called shaft weld-overs, also known as cladding (or incorrectly “metalizing”). Shaft weld-overs or cladding is the process of repairing a worn or damaged area on a shaft.   Stainless steel shafts can be damaged by excessive wear in contact areas, such as bearings or seals, due to long life or misalignment. Shafts can also be damaged from crevice corrosion or stray current corrosion.

Typically, if the wear is smooth and less than 0.010″ deep it is acceptable. Any crevice corrosion, stray current corrosion or wear in a lip seal area must also be repaired since lip-seals such as Naiad or Tides Seals need a smooth surface to maintain water tight integrity.

Stabilizer shaft on lathe

When repairing a shaft, it must be placed in a lathe and have the damaged area turned down to remove the damaged area.  Never more than 0.125″. The area is built back up using semi-automatic MIG welding while slowly turning in the lathe. After cooling, the shaft is turned back down to close to the original shaft diameter.

Expert weld-overs cannot be detected by eye or feel once complete.

Finished product

Maintaining your stabilizer systems – what to look for before they fail!

A 100 foot Marlow yacht was recently hauled at Lauderdale Marine Center for routine maintenance that included her running gear, hydraulics, topside paint and other services. The captain turned to High Seas Yacht Hydraulics for the ship’s hydraulics inspections on her stabilizer and our sister company, High Seas Yacht Service for her running gear.

marlow v2The boat had a Naiad stabilizer and hydraulic system. During our inspection of the stabilizers, we found evidence of grease passing through the inner seal housing. This is a maintenance requirement that should be performed every 2-3 years or sooner based on the grease pushing past the inner seals. That is a sign of the outer seals failing and allowing water to pass through into the bearing housing. Typically, this is due to normal operation, wear and tear, but can be the result of inferior seals that were used when the technician is not properly trained in the servicing of these stabilizers. 

To remedy the situation, you must first hydraulically remove the fins, top plate assemblies, upper and lower seal housings and actuators. The next step is to clean and inspect all bearings and races, replacing bearings if needed. The actuators would then need to be reassembled, pack seal housings with grease and install upper and lower seal housings. Finally, we re-install the fins, top plate assemblies and set fin indicators (potentiometers) to the proper level. 

Generally, hydraulic systems should be inspected before any significant trip. Service, oil and filter changes should be completed at least every 2-3 years. Hydraulic oil breaks down even when the boat is sitting idle and not being used often. As far as major service goes, we feel that depends on operating pressure and temperature readings while the systems are engaged. Also another indicator of a potential problem is when filters are changed and debris is found in them.  This could be a sign of pumps possibly starting to fail. 

 It is vital to follow your manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and use quality parts and trained technicians to service these highly-used and valued pieces of equipment. 




Fabricating new hydraulic rods for Quantum Stabilizer cylinders

Fine Scores In Rods

Fine Scores In Rods

A customer walked into High Seas Hydraulics with three leaking Quantum Stabilizer cylinders from a 150 foot Trinity motor yacht. Upon close inspection, it was determined that there were fine scores or scratches in the hydraulic rods that were causing the fluid to bypass the seals. These scratches could not be repaired or polished out so new hydraulic rods would need to be installed.

Raw material for rods

Raw material for rods

That is when our hydraulic teams turned to our sister company, machine shop Straight Line Marine. Through our procurement department at High Seas, we were able to source raw materials to fabricate new hydraulic rods within a day.

The Straight Line Marine machinist went to work and crafted new rods to exact specifications including intricate thread machining.

Finished rod

Finished rod

The ability to bring the stabilizer cylinders back to top working order with new hydraulic rods fabricated on-site in our machine shop saved this motor yacht’s owner and captain both time and money and was completed from a one-stop company.

High Seas Hydraulics Adds Factory Trained and Certified on ABT•TRAC Systems to its List of Credentials

abtAt High Seas Hydraulics and High Seas Yacht Service, we take pride in the high level of service we provide our customers. One way to continue that tradition is to make sure our technicians receive the latest training on new and emerging marine systems.

We recently sent two of our hydraulics technicians to ABT•TRAC training in Rohnert Park, CA. ABT•TRAC is a leading manufacturer of world class yachting products. The Company specializes in stabilizers, bow and stern thrusters, and hydraulic systems.

During the training, our technicians honed their skills on re-building bow and stern thrusters, stabilizers and other hydraulic systems. Part of the training focused on installation and service for ABT•TRAC’s STAR and ReTrac systems. STAR is an option on all of ABT•TRAC’s stabilizers and provides vessels roll stabilization while at anchor or laying to. Introduced in 2013, ReTrac is the Company’s first retractable thruster.

After completion of the training and passing a comprehensive exam, our technicians are now Factory Trained and Certified to work on all types of ABT•TRAC systems. An added bonus of the training session, our technicians arrived back at our shop with comprehensive schematics for a number of hydraulic systems.

We firmly believe that to remain a trusted partner to our customers, we must remain on the cutting edge of technology.