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Old 07-15-2019, 01:33 AM   #1
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Recommended auto pilot for mechanical steering.

Hey members,
We are planning to go coastal with our 40 foot Blueseas Flybridge trawler cruiser so I need to get an auto pilot and compatible chart plotter.. only hiccup is that we have mechanical steering.. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance..
Jason
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Old 07-15-2019, 02:42 AM   #2
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Mechanical steering is no problem. There are A/P available that will handle almost any steering system. I use a wheel mounted system, they are economical but they are limited to boats under about 8 tonnes. For bigger boats you may need to pay a few extra boat bucks for something like Raymarine X-series A/P.

https://www.mailspeedmarine.com/medi...s_brochure.pdf
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:55 AM   #3
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Mechanical steering is no problem. There are A/P available that will handle almost any steering system. I use a wheel mounted system, they are economical but they are limited to boats under about 8 tonnes. For bigger boats you may need to pay a few extra boat bucks for something like Raymarine X-series A/P.

https://www.mailspeedmarine.com/medi...s_brochure.pdf
Thanks, Iím over 7t so Iíll need a linear.. I think.. I was hoping for a cheaper alternative however looks like boat bucks it is
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:16 AM   #4
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Most of the wheel mounted AP re for sailboats.

As the wind picks up the helm can get very heavy, so they are very cautious about boat size.

If your mechanical steering is light and not heavy to operate the better quality wheel units might be just fine.A good lubrication might help ?

A call to the MFG may ease your concerns .First folks to call,

http://cptautopilot.com/
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:44 AM   #5
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Most of the wheel mounted AP re for sailboats.

As the wind picks up the helm can get very heavy, so they are very cautious about boat size.

If your mechanical steering is light and not heavy to operate the better quality wheel units might be just fine.A good lubrication might help ?

A call to the MFG may ease your concerns .First folks to call,

CPT Autopilot Inc.
Thanks, I was thinking that, my steering is vey light, you can turn the wheel with a finger.. do the wheel types combo with chart plotters?
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Most of the wheel mounted AP re for sailboats.

As the wind picks up the helm can get very heavy, so they are very cautious about boat size.

If your mechanical steering is light and not heavy to operate the better quality wheel units might be just fine.A good lubrication might help ?

We had APs on our sailboats that had mechanical steering and they worked great. Under sail in 20 knot winds and decent seas, the steering forces required got pretty scary. Of course, the AP was never used in those conditions.

When not under sail, the steering forces were never significant, regardless of the sea state. So I wouldnít be worried about a wheel mounted AP on your boat.
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:49 AM   #7
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I added a Raymarine Wheel Pilot on our Marine Trader 34. It is chain driven and works great. Since we donít go much over 6 knots the wheel forces are never too great.
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jason Steele View Post
Thanks, I was thinking that, my steering is vey light, you can turn the wheel with a finger.. do the wheel types combo with chart plotters?
If your rudder is well balanced a wheel mounted A/P would be worth a try. I have an old Autohelm 4000, and it easily handles my 7 tonne boat. They are no longer sold but I bought a used 2nd one as a backup on Cruisers Forum for $100. I see them on eBay occasionally, but usually for about $500.

They don't link up with a plotter but for that price, who cares. Just set a course on your plotter, and match the heading on your autopilot.
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:59 AM   #9
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Not sure what brands you have down there, but a boat we chartered once had this Comnav and it was excellent. Interfaces with whatever electronics you wish.

Products | ComNav Marine Ltd.
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:59 AM   #10
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Yes, that boat is way to big for a wheel pilot type autopilot.


Consider switching to hydraulic steering and an autopilot to match. I thought about that for my outboard powered Tiny Trawler. The cost difference for components- mechanical vs hydraulic including a Baystar hydraulic conversion kit was only $500.


For your boat you will have to go with the heavier Seastar kit and a second helm pump, so the cost difference will be at least $1,000, but well worth it IMO.


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Old 07-15-2019, 12:23 PM   #11
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The AP rating are in tons of displacement, draft, and speed. Be sure to uprate it one size for when conditions get a little snotty.
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:09 PM   #12
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Thanks for the advice.. switching to hydraulic steering on the boat is not an option.. Cost over here fitted with both helms would be easy 5K. If that AP works on a marine trader 34, then I think it would work ok on our Blue Seas.. pretty sure they were made in the same factory. The rudder is very light on hours so I couldn’t imagine that it would be anywhere near a sail boat... but I would need to rely on the AP as the first safe mooring from our harbour is about 13 hours.
Thanks for the advice I really appreciate ir..
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:42 AM   #13
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The usual problem why folks do not install a wheel steering on a Hyd steered boat is there is no true wheel center position..

With a mechanical steered boat this is no problem at all.

It is more difficult to install a good mechanical steering , than slop in some plastic hose , so it frequently is the boat assemblers first choice.
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:33 AM   #14
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All the older Grand Banks had cable steering and perfectly useable autopilots were installed. Your system has a solution too. The hydraulic ram goes on the rudder post. With a hydraulic ram, your wheels will move with the autopilot inputs so you might need to put a destroyer rim on the wheel so nobody gets tangled in a wheel! Make sure there are no meat hooks on the cable (failing) and that all the pulleys and chains are properly lubed and all bearings are good. Each helm wheel is back-driven by its partner so this is not an issue.
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:16 AM   #15
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I know little to nothing about trawler autopilots, but I cannot imagine how a wheel pilot that could steer a 30' sailboat would have any problem with a 40' trawler. The steering forces on the sailboat are so much higher. My 34' sailboat generated 10x the force on the wheel as my cable-steered GB42.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:18 PM   #16
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I know little to nothing about trawler autopilots, but I cannot imagine how a wheel pilot that could steer a 30' sailboat would have any problem with a 40' trawler. The steering forces on the sailboat are so much higher. My 34' sailboat generated 10x the force on the wheel as my cable-steered GB42.
Iím starting to feel that it worth going in this direction.. with Ramarine recommendations it is going to be around 8k without installing....
The wheel steering system would be a third...
I honestly canít Imagine why they rate power boats to be the same as sail.. Iíve never felt the steering anywhere like a sail boat...
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:01 PM   #17
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Our boat has the Raymarine SPX-5R Helm Mount Fixed Pilot Raymarine SPX-5R Helm Mount Fixed Pilot

It system consist of the 1)compass/course computer, 2) pilot controller, and 3) wheel mounted drive unit.

Unfortunately the SPX-5R wheel mounted drive unit has some know clutch issues and is currently not working (knew this when we bought). The PO said the unit has been sent in to Raymarine twice for the clutch repair and it is needed again.

I am hoping to figure out if I can use the installed compass/course computer and pilot controller with some alternative drive unit that does not have know issues.
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:29 PM   #18
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Been contemplating the installation of a wheel fitted AP on my mechanical system however not cables but chains and rods both stations. Any problems envisaged or does all the above advise apply.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:59 AM   #19
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"Any problems envisaged or does all the above advise apply."


The question is not how the mechanical steering is assembled , it is how light is the steering.
The rod and chain is pretty easy to keep up with a grease gun, the chain (usually bronze or SS ) can be sprayed with a can of chain lube from a bike shop.
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:49 AM   #20
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The Raymarine Wheel Pilot works on my chain and rod system. The systems are pretty hardy. I had to change out my original wood wheel for a stainless Destroyer wheel in order for the Wheel Pilot to fit. I actually like the destroyer wheel better. My next step is to add the Raymarine wireless remote for the Wheel Pilot. Once I have that I can control the autopilot from the upper helm.
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