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Old 06-26-2015, 09:40 PM   #1
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Micro Commander failing

We're having fun with "Claret" our new 2005 MS Pilot 34 Express twin, but sometimes we're not. We bought her last year and had an issue with the starboard micro commander occasionally failing. Moving from sail back to power I thought maybe it was me. My previous motor boat experience was with my 27 Donzi ZX, a simple 454 with mechanical throttle, shift and steering. The MS uses an electrical ZF Mathers Microcommander 9000 series for throttle and shift, it was new to me. Naturally caveat emptor or WYSIWYG. The dealer (MS dealer) said we needed a new command head, $700 later with a new command she will still occasionally fail.

I called Control Masters Marine Systems, Inc., distributors for the ZF MC and was advised by the tech that Mainship places a relay in the power circuit to the command unit which will fail causing the system to fail. He said to 1. either find where the relay is and replace it or 2. run a separate circuit to each command unit, both power and new ground.

While I was fortunate to have the complete MS owners manual et. al. for all systems MS only provides a color wire diagram/picture, not a real wiring schematic showing wiring, switches, relays, etc.

Has any other MS owners experienced this type of problem or know where I can obtain a real wiring schematic for a Pilot 34 twin?

3 calls to MS remain unanswered and now I do not trust the dealer, as they say once burned shame on you, twice burned shame on me.

Ed
MS Pilot 34 Express
Claret
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Old 06-26-2015, 09:54 PM   #2
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hi there is an expert from Washington called Bill. He is a guru on these systems. Just google him and get him to help you. He was a massive help to me here in Australia and I got my systems working perfectly now. I also then went out and bought the older units I have 585ce as spares so will always be good for parts. They are really reliable but must have a good supply of 12 plus volts and not sharing this with a start circuit or other power draining circuit. Just call a Bill and cut through all the unnecessary calls to ZF.
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Old 06-27-2015, 07:32 AM   #3
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Send a message via Skype™ to bglad
Since you have a pair swapping parts back and forth while more effort may be more defintive in identifying problems.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:15 AM   #4
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Ed,
I have a 2006 MS Pilot 30.The previous owner had replaced the micro commander with a mechanical throttle, shifter. I have seen this on a couple of other mainships also. Not sure if it was cheaper to replace with Mechanical instead of repairing micro commander units? I have had dealings with the Mainship dealer you reference and understand your frustrations.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jskinner30PII View Post
I have a 2006 MS Pilot 30.The previous owner had replaced the micro commander with a mechanical throttle, shifter.
I'd love to hear more about this as I don't like anything about my MCs. 2006 vintage.
Who did your OP use to make the change over?
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:22 AM   #6
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Micro Commander failing

I've had good luck with my MC, 2004 vintage. Knock on wood.
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Old 06-29-2015, 04:00 PM   #7
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Codger 2,
Not sure who did the conversion since it was done before I bought the boat. The manuals I had included the MC's and the broker told me they had switched it back to mechanical.
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Old 06-29-2015, 04:19 PM   #8
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For the Pilot 34 which has a single lower helm, conversion to manual should cost less than the $700 spent on the command head and if it were my boat I would be tempted to go that route. I have a 2003 Pilot 34 single and it is manual.


But the Micro Commander system was the subject of a Mainship technical bulletin that consisted of replacing the relay you noted above. I can't help you with the location or schematics as Mainship only published the mickey mouse diagrams.


FWIW the MC is very sensitive to supply voltage and needs a MC supplied black box (diodes basically) that picks the higher of either the start or the house battery to supply its electronics. This in turn are supplied by the relay described above. ZF will know which relay will work in this case but any starter type relay should work.


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Old 06-29-2015, 04:56 PM   #9
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There is a thread last year in which I expressed my displeasure with my Microcommander telling me that they would not replace a 3 inch diameter plastic belt on my 1999 unit and that I had to buy a modern unit. Sounds like a Xantrex policy to me.
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Old 06-29-2015, 08:01 PM   #10
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I've had good luck with my MC, 2004 vintage. Knock on wood.
Hi Oliver,

My flybridge unit failed not long after I brought the boat up the the Pacific Northwest. I'm guessing it didn't like our wet, rainy weather!

Fortunately it's a pretty easy fix. I didn't even bother turning the power off. I'm hoping yours lasts a long time and that it is well sealed against the elements.
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Old 06-29-2015, 08:23 PM   #11
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Thanks for the heads up! I hope the day one acts up its in big fairway so I don't run into anything.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:24 AM   #12
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Micro Commander and Mainship

I would be curious to see the mainship bulletin if it was available.
I have a 2006 Pilot 30 with the MC system. Having problems. 1st it cut out loosing throttle and shift control, ran into the dock since I could not put the boat in to reverse. Long story short, had a nice conversation with ZF Mathers in FLA. He went over the situation where he didn't like how mainship wired in the units. He suggested wire the power direct. I did that leaving the unit hot all the time and see what happens. It has been running fine till last two weeks and randomly the engine will now shut off without warning. When you try to hit the rocker switch and start the engine nothing happens. Boat shut off the other night going 2200 rpms with a head current in a narrow canal with steel walls. Was lucky to have a passing boater throw a line and stop us from drifting into the bridge abutment behind us !
I was able to restart the engine after flipping off and on the two breakers that feed the helm supply and engine.
I am starting to think time to rip out the MC unit and install manual single helm with cables and be done !
Btw, my luck so far with Mainship Pilot 30's . Bought one last year, 2006 and after 2 months it burned up at the dock. Faulty wiring to ac unit. Really liked the boat so bought my 2nd one with the insurance money. Same year, just with a hard top. Starting to think I am not ment to be a Mainship owner !
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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
For the Pilot 34 which has a single lower helm, conversion to manual should cost less than the $700 spent on the command head and if it were my boat I would be tempted to go that route. I have a 2003 Pilot 34 single and it is manual.


But the Micro Commander system was the subject of a Mainship technical bulletin that consisted of replacing the relay you noted above. I can't help you with the location or schematics as Mainship only published the mickey mouse diagrams.


FWIW the MC is very sensitive to supply voltage and needs a MC supplied black box (diodes basically) that picks the higher of either the start or the house battery to supply its electronics. This in turn are supplied by the relay described above. ZF will know which relay will work in this case but any starter type relay should work.


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Old 09-02-2015, 10:34 AM   #13
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MyLuna:


Your MC obviously has a problem that goes beyond power supply and a bad relay and even if it can be fixed (and who knows) the cost will be more than a cable system. Change it to cables and be done with MC is my advice.


Why Mainship put a MC on a single helm boat is beyond me.


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Old 09-02-2015, 11:17 AM   #14
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Why Mainship put a MC on a single helm boat is beyond me.
Who would most likely make the change to manual. Mine is still working but it's only a matter of time until it fails.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:33 PM   #15
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I would be curious to see the mainship bulletin if it was available.
The best information I've been able to cull from the Mainship forum is that Mainship never issued a bulletin specifying a fix here. Instead they sent letters to all owners-of-record about upgrading the power relay. I've never seen a copy of that letter.

Also, the Mainship installation has been noted for not being able to draw power from multiple sources/batteries. That may be true for some installations, but my 2006 came from the factory configured with a ZF Model 13505 Automatic Power Selector to power the MC from the house battery with the highest voltage.

Not at all suggesting these items have anything to do with your problem, just trying to correct some confusion that is out there about MC and Mainship.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:30 PM   #16
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I have seen that letter, bulletin or whatever. I never received a letter while I owned a Mainship 34T with the MC during the late 2000s. But I did see it on Mainship's web site.


The letter advised replacing a relay with a specific brand and part number. I suspect that relay controls power from the Automatic Power Selector with an ignition input to its coil, and its contacts were too light for the service, so a beefier relay was specified.


I never replaced that relay, but I did have a few spurious MC shutdowns. Toggling the helm power cleared it up.


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Old 09-02-2015, 09:53 PM   #17
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Micro commander issues

Hi David. I had problems with my starboard MC failing, the problem was corrosion in the connector at the MC unit in the engine compartment. Our fix was to run jumpers around the connector for the + & - leads providing sufficient current for the unit. i can't seem to upload the photo of what we did, if you'd like please send your email and I'll send the photo and will also show how our new nextgen unit was raised to help prevent water back flow into the unit which will ruin it. Ed captedward@gmail.com I see the one photo was attached
Ed
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