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Howard Power Steering Unit Failure


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#1 travelcade

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

I am new to the Forum, and this is my first attempt at getting some help, but I really do need HELP with this one. First let me say that the Howard Steering Unit is as good as advertised. It makes driving my American Tradition much easier and fatigue is diminished noticeably. I feel it also adds control should tire failure occur. That's the good news. The bad news is that the $3,000 unit's Power Centering Cylinder has a leak, and over a very short distance all the power steering fluid leaked out rendering it worthless.

I called the home office in San Antonio Texas (800-879-4277) to try to find a method to have the leak fixed. After numerous attempts (most of the time, I received a busy signal), I finally connected to Sam who informed me that the company was bankrupt and that ALL parts were manufactured at their home plant including all seals and "O" rings which would be the problem if the leak originated at the cylinder, which it did.

I am somewhat mechanical and feel that I could remove the cylinder and take it to a hydraulic shop to replace the seals or "O" rings, but Sam said unless the original parts were used, that would be a mistake, for damage could occur or at best if incorrect parts were used, it would continue to leak.

What I need to know is, has anyone else had this problem and gotten it solved?

We attended the FMCA Oklahoma Rally this Fall, and I ran into two other people who were having the same problem, and they were in the same fix as I am with no resolution.
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#2 hermanmullins

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:55 PM

travelcade,
Welcome to the Forum.
May folks have said what a great unit the Howard Unit was. Since they are no longer in business I see no problem with your thought. Go to a good hydraulic repair shop and have them reseal the cylinder. What Sam said, is Ok but it is leaking now. If it is rebuilt and doesn't leak you are good to go. If it is rebuilt and still leaks you are only out the cost to rebuild. To me that is a no brainer.
Go for it and good luck.

Herman
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"Fair winds and Following Seas"

Herman & Bobbie Mullins, F302225
Whitewright, TEXAS
'02 Monaco Dynasty, 40-foot 400 HP ISL
Chevrolet Silverado (M & G air brakes)
U.S. Navy PR-3 1956 to 1964

Southern Region Vice President for Six-State Rally Association
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#3 desertdeals69

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:59 PM

Any good hydraulic shop should be able to fix it. I doubt very much that Howard manufactured their own o-rings, I think they probably used common sizes available to any manufacturer.
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#4 DickandLois

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:23 PM

Travelcade. Do you still have the owners manual?

If not I can try to get a copy to you, The manual pictures the hydraulic cylinder quite well and as mentioned with some good information a good shop should be able to rebuild it. The trim block and valve could offer a challenge. The tougher one is the glass sight tube should it get broken.

 

I posted my thoughts regarding the sight tube on this thread.

http://community.fmc...teering-system/


Good luck Rich.

 

Edit 2-5-2013--- Owners Manual link:

http://janeandjohn.o... PCS Manual.pdf


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#5 travelcade

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:28 AM

That was my thought also Herman. We are not cold weather campers, so I feel that I have time to take it off and see if i can get a shop to replace the seals. Thanks for the input, Mike.
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#6 travelcade

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:31 AM

I think you are probably right about the seals and "O" rings. That was my thought also. Just wanted to see if others agreed with me before I took it to a shop. Mike.
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#7 travelcade

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:38 AM

Rich,
I do still have the manual and it is very detailed graphically. I think I can remove the steering cylinder and not have to remove anything else. It is located under the rig and is an easy access to remove. Mike.
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#8 Charles2447

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

Power steering cylinders may contain a control valve in addition to the cylinder.  If this cylinder does not contain a control valve I would concur with the other comments.  I would expect that a good shop would have no difficulty replacing the seals.   If it does contain a control valve and maybe that can be ascertained from the manual the repair could be more complex.  I do not have the Howard unit but the one I had was quite old (early 50's) and the valve and cylinder was repaired by a hydraulic shop for about $1300.  This involved the shop making some of the parts for the valve.  The cylinder repair was simple and just required some standard seals.  Good luck.


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#9 dives

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:02 AM

Newbie - It is now the end of March '13 and my HPS blew out last Nov......... I went thru Sam K. at HPS and recently came up with one success story that I have followed up on.........RVer had seals (off the shelf) replaced at local hydraulic shop and HPS cylinder immediately blew out. Took cylinder back and after some research put in custom upgraded seals. RVer has reported that HPS cylinder unit has been in place for seven months now and 3 relative long trips and is working just fine......... That was good enough for me to give it a try. So I removed HPS cylinder unit and on Mar 28 took it to hydraulic shop about a 160 miles away. Shop owner with many years of experience was very personable with lots of knowledge and experience. He came across as being confident that he could resolve cylinder problem, but certainly would not assume responsibility for re-installation and operational aspects of the HPS System. Cost for my cylinder is estimated at less than $1,000 with about a month to repair.......... The jury is out, but I am hopeful to be the second success story for a HPS fix. Anyone interested holler to "Dives" at volleyballex-ace@yahoo.com and I'll respond with contact information and some guidelines for removing HPS cylinder based on the experience of two RVers. Here's to HAPPY STEERING. Dives


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#10 DickandLois

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:20 PM

Dives,

 

Welcome to FMCA.

Thanks for your feedback and I sure hope that it helps others with a Self Centering System.

 

Let us know how you make out with the repair.

 

Rich.


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#11 dives

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 12:09 PM

Repair for my Howard Power Steer Hydraulic Cylinder is good so far. Re-installed HPS unit is functioning fine. Will be headed out soon-like for 5,000 mile trip for the real test. Lake Tool & Hydraulic is confident in the upgraded custom seals, as other HPS Cylinder Units have also been successfully rebuilt. 
 
Contact for Guaranteed Howard Power Steer Hydraulic Cylinder Rebuild:
Jess Harper
Lake Tool & Hydraulics, Inc.
2801 E. Napoleon St.
Sulphur, LA 70663
Phone:  337-302-5737
e-mail:  lth5500@yahoo.com

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#12 DickandLois

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 06:24 PM

Dives,

 

Thanks for the update! Safe and Happy Trails.

 

Rich.


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#13 dives

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 07:32 AM

My HPS rebuilt cylinder passed the 5,000 mile road test and is working great. See previous post. Re: Lake tool & Hydraulics


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