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Old 04-27-2019, 06:58 AM   #1
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Autopilot Pump Life

I use my autopilot probably 99% of the time underway. Most of the time it's to run straight lines, but I also use it with the jog lever or a remote to simply steer as opposed to cranking the wheel by hand.

So I'm wondering what the life expectancy of the pump is in that kind of constant intermittent use? Mine (Robertson/ Simrad part of an AP20 system) is now 17 years old with around 3,500 hours on it. The system works flawlessly and couldn't imagine being without it. Looking for information from those who have had pump failures as to what failed and / or how long they lasted.

Ted
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:17 AM   #2
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Ted
I've had the same question. I needed to clean the brushes at around 2000 hours. Likely a similar Simrad pump, vintage 2004. I will do a running takeout in a year or so.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:46 AM   #3
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Our Robertson pump is ~25 plus years old. I’ve checked the brushes a couple of times and they still look good. When we updated to the AP24 8 years ago, we kept the same pump.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:46 AM   #4
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I believe that the autopilot's hydraulic pump is one of the most reliable pieces of equipment on a boat, much more reliable than the helm pump on a hydraulic steering system.



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Old 04-27-2019, 08:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
I believe that the autopilot's hydraulic pump is one of the most reliable pieces of equipment on a boat, much more reliable than the helm pump on a hydraulic steering system. David
Owner induced events and poor initial setup are the bane of most AP hydraulic pumps. I've seen a few setups where the pump is in a wet dirty location and crater within a decade. System leaks and cavitation /running dry are all too common. Wrong fluid, seen bad recommendations on TF to save $10.

I doubt Larry and OCD would let a pump and system go unloved. Not all are that attentive.
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Old 04-27-2019, 09:25 AM   #6
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Wagner S50, installed 1980, used almost even with engine hours, to about 2010. Replace when engine hours were around 6000. The pump itself had no signs of failure but the aluminum block with all of the complex drillings for the hydraulics cracked and was unobtainium.
Replaced with Raymarine.
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:35 PM   #7
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I have Jog steering with no time delay. So I must give the pump a .5 sec. to stop before reversing. No issue at all until someone else is at the helm. Quick reversing can damage the Armature and pump shaft
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Old 04-27-2019, 02:33 PM   #8
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.......and was unobtainium.
Ha! That last time I heard that word was when Mark Donahue, factory Porsche driver many years ago, was asked what the frame of his 917 was made of.
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Old 04-27-2019, 03:52 PM   #9
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3700 engine hours and close on the autoilot pump which Is Raymarine
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Old 04-27-2019, 06:52 PM   #10
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I have a Wagner from the early 1970s. No idea on the total hours. Boat was in charter service for 30 of those years. I added about 2000 hours.
I never manually steer. In a channel, river, harbor, I let the autopilot do the work. I use a jog lever for docking.

If I have to replace the pump, I'll probably go to an engine driven pump.
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Old 04-28-2019, 08:55 AM   #11
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I have a Simrad AP35 with the RPU160 pump. Only about 2500hrs on it. Communtator copper is about worn through and pump often goes overcurrent trip until I manually clean debris out from between the copper strips. Pump is about done. Not due to environment, it is in a clean and dry spot in the engine room.

I think I got a crappy pump.
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Old 04-28-2019, 09:46 AM   #12
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I have a Simrad AP35 with the RPU160 pump. Only about 2500hrs on it. Communtator copper is about worn through and pump often goes overcurrent trip until I manually clean debris out from between the copper strips. Pump is about done. Not due to environment, it is in a clean and dry spot in the engine room.

I think I got a crappy pump.
Ski
Or a normal Simrad pump motor maybe? Mine started behaving similar to yours at around 2200 hours. Hopefully it will last through this cruising season. My favorite instrument guy uses a shop to rebuild RPU motors. The shop guy says the motors are not the best. There is a reason Accusteer pumps are used on many vessels.

Possibly a replace item to add to the list.
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Old 04-30-2019, 01:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
I use my autopilot probably 99% of the time underway. Most of the time it's to run straight lines, but I also use it with the jog lever or a remote to simply steer as opposed to cranking the wheel by hand.

So I'm wondering what the life expectancy of the pump is in that kind of constant intermittent use? Mine (Robertson/ Simrad part of an AP20 system) is now 17 years old with around 3,500 hours on it. The system works flawlessly and couldn't imagine being without it. Looking for information from those who have had pump failures as to what failed and / or how long they lasted.

Ted

Ted, don't know the exact answer to your question but I have a similar pump (Robertson/Simrad era) with roughly the same amount of hours and it keeps chugging away. Now if I only had a more modern autopilot controller....



Ken
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