T&T: Capilano Helm Pumps and UniValve Replacement

Thomas Averill tlaverill at msn.com
Mon Apr 3 14:04:38 EDT 2006

If you have an older Capilano steering system, you may find this information 

As has been discussed here many times, Capilano makes commercial grade 
steering systems for mid size vessels.  The helm pump has its own reserve 
and can be used with or without an additional reserve or the upper and lower 
pumps can be plumbed to each other to share a larger reserve capacity.  
Somewhere in the early 90's or late 80's they changed the design of the 
pump.  In the older pumps, pressurized fluid from one side of the pump could 
not be pumped into the other pressurrized side.  The Univalve or uniflow 
valve, usually located at the rudder slave cylinder picked up the expelled 
fluid from the cylinder and routed it back at low pressure to the helm sump 
using a 3rd line.  The re-design of the pump eliminates the need for the U 
valve and expelled cylinder fluid is routed to the low pressure side of the 
pump and the 3rd line is not used.  Capilano elected to discontinue the sale 
of the U Valves and nolonger services them.  You can occasionally find one 
in a salvage store, but they have become golden.  If you call 
Teleflex/Morse/Capilano about this, they will tell you all about their new 
helm pumps.  The older helm pumps can be resealed and kits for this are 
still available.  They are good strong pumps.

What to do if your Univalve fails?  I have found a company by the name of 
Vetus Den Ouden, Inc which is a Netherlands company.  They have US 
distribution from Maryland, see www.vetus.com.
This company sells their own pumps cylinders etc primarily in the European 
market.  Their pumps are sold with a built in return valve or without.  For 
the "non-return" pumps, they route expelled steering slave cylinder fluid 
through a "non-return" valve block (same idea as the U valve).  This valve 
is available as part number K30/140 for $US260.  The drawback is that the 
entire Vetus line of steering components is plumbed in metric fittings.  
With a little creativity, this speed bump can be circumvented.  You could 
save your old sytle Capilano pump which use the 3 line system.  Vetus offers 
another valve which will serve as a Non-return block.  This one also has a 
by-pass valve built into it which will allow for system bleeding and in the 
event you need to put a tiller onto your rudder in an emergency steering 
situation.  This non-return/bypass valve is over $600, but we all have our 
threshold of pain right?

Or you could convert over to new Style Capilano pumps for about $900 each or 
go to a Teleflex pump for around $400 each and eliminate the 3rd line.  So 
anyway, I have heard some very frustrating stories about this problem, which 
I believe can be solved as described above.

A side note:  I did talk to a Teleflex distributor about their "relief 
valve" which was explained to me to be as a possible solution to the U valve 
dilemma.  It is not a solution.  The relief valve is a bleeder valve which 
allows a "one man" bleeding of the system. It does not eliminate the 
pressure from the expelled steering cylinder line which goes back to the 
helm pressure side.  This would "lock" both pressure lines if no U valve 
were present.   It is still a good bleedins solution and I have seen several 
in the recylcling shops for about $50.

Best Regards

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