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Old 06-30-2013, 03:21 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Auto-pilot install

I have a Marine Trader 34' trawler. My question is can a wheel mounted auto pilot work on this vessel?
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:57 PM   #2
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probably but I would check with the manufacturer's about limitations...

is your vessel hydraulic steering or mechanical?
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Old 07-01-2013, 06:31 AM   #3
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Cool auto pilot install

Thank you. Hydraulic steering, displacement 17,000 lbs. Most wheel mounted types are rated to 13,000, my thought is with the hydraulic steering assisting the pilot it should be able to steer the boat and hold a course. Your thoughts?
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Old 07-01-2013, 06:40 AM   #4
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my thoughts are don't do it...there's a reason for the different types.

though it could be done..you have to check to see whether the turns of your wheel and the loading and the range of the wheel pilot would get the job done...best discussed with a manufacturer.
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soxknots33 View Post
I have a Marine Trader 34' trawler. My question is can a wheel mounted auto pilot work on this vessel?
A wheel autopilot will work fine on your boat. We had an old ST3000 on a boat that displaced 32000 lbs even though the AP was rated for ~15,000 lbs. It didn't hold the course in heavy weather though. If we had kept the boat, we would have upgraded to a CPT wheel pilot.

The ST3000 is no longer made but you can buy used units for around $500 on Ebay. You can also make your own by using a heavy duty windshield wiper motor and the ST3000 control box which has the compass inside.

CPT is still in business and does wheel pilots to over 50 to feet maybe larger.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:33 AM   #6
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Cool cpt auto pilot

Thank you. Will check it out. See you are in JAX, lived there for 20yrs. Worked for Atlantic Dry Dock and sister company Atlantic Marine. 17 plus yrs, 1990 to 2007.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:37 AM   #7
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A wheel driven AP may not work at all well.

The problem is turning left and right the hyd pump behind the wheel will leak differently internally in either direction.

The AP expects the boat to go straight (mostly) when the wheel is centered.

As the center may shift as the wheel is exercised there comes a point where the AP looses it.

This can be a few min , or a few hours , depending on the internal leakage of the wheel hydraulics.

If you mark the "center" of the wheel before an outing (masking tape), you should be able to see how long it takes for center to be lost.

If the system is fairly tight , simply turning off and on the AP every half hour might be better than a std pump and cylinder style installation.

Many modern electronics don't go too crazy as the wheel position on a sail boat will change on course with sail loading.

Really depends on what you can live with.
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:02 AM   #8
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I agree with FF, although a wheel steerer may work, it may not and much time will be wasted. Start by finding out what others, with the same vessel are using and how they like it.

Hydraulic steering, unless it is power steering, will not help make up for an underpowered unit, it may even add resistance depending on line size and type of oil used.
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:29 PM   #9
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I've got the Simrad WP5000 Wheel Pilot on my 34 Californian which weighs over 18000 lbs. It has hydraulic steering, came with the boat when I bought it 6 years ago and works well. It's a bit slow in reacting in following seas even with the gain set to the maximum, but it holds its own in all other conditions. It has adjustments for number of wheel turns lock-to-lock from one to five turns.

Interestingly, upon seeing the posts above, I looked in the manual and it states, "Your WheelPilot 5000 is a two part autopilot suitable for a wide variety of wheel steered sailing vessels." and "Note that the WP5000 is not suitable for hydraulic steering systems." Well, I'll be! FlyWright is a hydraulic-steered power vessel and it sure seems to do just fine.

YMMV

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Old 07-01-2013, 05:51 PM   #10
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A wheel driven AP may not work at all well.

The problem is turning left and right the hyd pump behind the wheel will leak differently internally in either direction.

The AP expects the boat to go straight (mostly) when the wheel is centered.

As the center may shift as the wheel is exercised there comes a point where the AP looses it.

This can be a few min , or a few hours , depending on the internal leakage of the wheel hydraulics.

If you mark the "center" of the wheel before an outing (masking tape), you should be able to see how long it takes for center to be lost.

If the system is fairly tight , simply turning off and on the AP every half hour might be better than a std pump and cylinder style installation.

Many modern electronics don't go too crazy as the wheel position on a sail boat will change on course with sail loading.

Really depends on what you can live with.
Doesn't a wheel auto pilot steer via a compass heading. If the AP has to work harder in one direction vs the other to maintain course because of internal leakage as referenced above so...? What am I missing here?

A downside to wheel autopilots are they are usually stand alone systems so you can't hooked up to your MFD though.
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:05 AM   #11
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What am I missing here?

The boat may end up being able to steer left , but not right , till recentered and reset.
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:31 AM   #12
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This kind of A/P would definitely work better on a boat like mine with chain and rod mechanical steering, and Baltimore Lurker has put a similar unit on his boat, virtually a sister ship to mine, and it works quite well.
However, discussion with Raymarine re putting a wheel pilot on mine, in the end convinced me it would be best, although much more expensive, to go for the unit designed for this type with rotary motor and extra sprocket and chain linkage behind the steering hub/bulkhead.
I am still convinced however a wheel pilot would work, albeit in a less robust way. I'm still pondering....
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:15 AM   #13
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IF we build another boat ( 39ft) it will have whipstaff steering with no stretch rope , and use a sail boat tiller style AP.

$300 or so.

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Old 07-02-2013, 09:30 AM   #14
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However, discussion with Raymarine re putting a wheel pilot on mine, in the end convinced me it would be best ...
Just out of curiousity, which unit did Raymarine suggest and what is the price?
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:48 AM   #15
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Here's a shot of the WP4000 that a PO installed on my boat. (I have chain/rod mechanical steering so I cannot comment on the hydraulic issues. ) It's still working fine, though as I commented once before, it's not too effective in heavy or following seas.

Also, you need to decide which helm you're planning to use it on -- I see Flyright's got one on the lower helm.

Lurker and I talked about this several yr ago when he decided to go this same route, but I couldn't locate that thread.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:45 PM   #16
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Been there done that... it will work, sort of, in most circumstances but it will be noisy and jerky and just plain irritating, why not just do it right.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:07 AM   #17
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Been there done that... it will work, sort of, in most circumstances but it will be noisy and jerky and just plain irritating, why not just do it right.

If you are starting from scratch, and want to invest $$$$ in an autopilot, I'd agree that a networked, super-sophisticated system might be warranted. But for us MT 34 guys with 30-40 year old boats....putting $10k into a steering system probably ain't gonna happen. Whatever works ...works!
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:21 AM   #18
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Just out of curiousity, which unit did Raymarine suggest and what is the price?
Rick, they didn't quote an exact price, because it would be a system made up fo rotary motor (that's the most expensive part for some reason), then coupled to a choice of head units of varying sophistication, and then whether one wanted remotes etc, but it added up to well in excess of $A5000, whereas the wheel pilot version was ~ $2000.
I'm still actually not fully convinced the cheaper one wouldn't more than suffice for my needs.
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Old 07-03-2013, 02:06 AM   #19
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I have a Marine Trader 34' trawler. My question is can a wheel mounted auto pilot work on this vessel?
To the OP's question...Yes.
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Old 07-03-2013, 05:35 AM   #20
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To the OP's question...Yes.

The Question is for how long, before needing to be reset.
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