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Old 02-10-2020, 07:33 PM   #1
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Stabilizers - hydraulic or pneumatic

Getting quotes for new stabilizers to install on my new to me trawler. I have priced Wesmar and Gyro-Gale. They are basically the same price for the parts. The big difference is the installation. I can do the Gyro-Gale my self (Basically free), the Wesmar will require professional installation.
From what I've read here and other places, people are very happy with Gyro-Gale. I like the idea of one less oil change on the boat.
Am I missing something?
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:08 PM   #2
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I don't see how that installation is any less complex, in some ways it looks more complex with more components than a hydraulic system. And no more DIY. And oil changes are a non-factor in hydraulics systems anyway (and I see components that need oil in the GG system); that was thacse for our heavily used Naiads. So it must be me who is missing something.... and that's nothing new.

I also have to admit I take the simple minded approach that there must be a reason Naiad, ABT and Wesmar are so much more common.

That said, by all means go for it and report back to us. There has to be a reason GG is still around, frankly I thought they were no more. So there has got to be a reason they are.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:09 PM   #3
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2 observations. Air can compress . Does this make the Gale units sluggish when under heavy load? Also can you just bolt stabilizers to a hull or do you have to reinforce the hull to accept them?
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:23 PM   #4
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Also can you just bolt stabilizers to a hull or do you have to reinforce the hull to accept them?

That's what makes them an easier install. The GG uses two steel plates to sandwich the hull. After that is simple tools to finish the assemble.
The Wesmar has to have the hull reinforced.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:40 PM   #5
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Watched their video of install on Defever 49. Surprised to see 5sf fins, but they have an articulated trailing edge so perhaps more ooomph per square foot of fin. Tough to tell if a heavy backing block is required, but I would guess so. No difference in forces exerted. As others have said, I see no material difference for install between these and hydraulic.

As others have said, not sure what problem they are solving by replacing hydraulic with pneumatic. Hydraulic controls have been around for a very, very long time and are proven simple and relatively trouble free in applications such as this (large fishing boats are exclusively hydraulic controls) . But I admit, I don't know squat about pneumatics except they are often used in assembly line controls such as bottling plants and such.

As far as the best hydraulic unit, I am in the midst of a refit and am replacing my 1970 vintage vosper fins with wesmar (4.5sf for my Willard 36, thus my surprise the defever 49 with roughly same size fins). I chose wesmar as they had a small system. In my opinion, a mistake. Their customer service and technical support has been awful. They freely cashed my check, then stopped replying to some very simple questions that should have been part of their design specs.

At about the same time, someone in this forum posted they, as second owner of a nordhavn, had problems with original equipment ABTs during a cruise. ABT responded immediately - - - - on a Sunday.

I believe all three of the hydraulic stabilizer brands mentioned use Eaton control brains. In the last few years, stabilizers have touted three dimension stabilization - pitch has been added. Not sure how effective, but that's the claim. Would see if the Gale system uses similar controls and technology. The control panel looks a lot like the old naiad with analog dial controls.

Bottom line, I am really sorry I chose wesmar. I would have returned the unit except they would charge a 20% restocking fee. I understand they changed owner a few years ago. Perhaps that led to the change.

Would advise ABT even at a premium, then Naiad. Then paravanes. Then Wesmar.

Good luck!
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:45 PM   #6
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That's what makes them an easier install. The GG uses two steel plates to sandwich the hull. After that is simple tools to finish the assemble.
The Wesmar has to have the hull reinforced.
Why? Stabilization forces should be the same assuming the fin is same size. Options are 1) articulated trailing edge of GG provides more lift without transferring lift to hull, or 2) GG is under-engineered, or 3) Wesmar/ABT/Naiad are over-engineered.

Careful on sizing. Not uncommon for folks to decide to increase fin size down the road after saving a few bucks at install by selecting smaller end fins. As mentioned in previous post, 5sf fins on a Defever 49 seems small. Only explanation is the articulated fin is Magic
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:10 PM   #7
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One advantage of air: it doesn't make a mess when it leaks, and hydraulics will leak, now or in the future.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:40 PM   #8
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My 2 cents worth

The compressor is not small for the gyro gales. A hydraulic pump is minuscule in comparison, especially if a PTO.

As Arc mentioned, air is compressible thus a slower response. In industry I've replaced air cylinders with hydraulic to reduce actuator time.

The air compressor requires a driver motor and cooling. Horn, how did GG propose these two issues be dealt with? The last GG unit I looked at had a sizeable electric motor and an in ER air cooling setup.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:13 PM   #9
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I had Naiad 7.5sq fins installed on my GB46 in about 2016. No problems since. They are large fins for the size of the boat, and they work a treat.

Having seen that work done, and seen the fins in action, I would always get a professional to install stabiliser fins. The loads that go onto them in heavier seas are huge, I would be surprised if a normal boat hull didnt need to be reinforced to take them (no matter which brand).

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Old 02-10-2020, 11:17 PM   #10
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The Gale system uses an engine driven compressor.

I wonder that someone doesn't make a fin stabilizer system using servo tabs to actuate the fins, which would require almost no power.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:34 PM   #11
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The Gale system uses an engine driven compressor.
Not always. As I mentioned in a previous post, one I evaluated relied upon a large stand alone electric motor drive compressor to power the fins. The electric motor required the genset to run all the time when the boat was cruising. Considerable heat was given off from the air cooled compressor.
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:29 AM   #12
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That's what makes them an easier install. The GG uses two steel plates to sandwich the hull. After that is simple tools to finish the assemble.
The Wesmar has to have the hull reinforced.
Why would one system require hull blocks and the other not?

My old Vospers had relatively hull blocks compared to those spec'd by Wesmar . Old ones were about 20"x22"x6" thick, glassed into hull with heavy roving. They were actually too thick for new ones and needed to be cut down an inch. Wesmar pads are mahogany and extremely beefy (and expensive). The blocks serve no purpose except as a pad, meaning there is nothing except through bolts and the shaft going through them.

The three hydraulic brands mentioned by OP use a heavy wood pad. Why not use a large, thick SS backing plate to distribute the load?

Regardless, I don't see where one system is much easier to install than the other. Laid out on a shop floor, my new Wesmar system was pretty well plug and play (well, once I figured out what to do about the voltage discrepancy - I ordered a 12v system but they shipped a 24v system, which is when they stopped communicating why I'm sorry I bought a Wesmar system ). There are two brain boxes, a panel-mount display, hydraulic pump, oil tank, and a heat exchanger mounted inline on engine raw water inlet. Wiring harnesses connecting them are mostly idiot proof (though one is way too short). There's no reason a skilled DIY person couldn't install them self.

BTW - the ABT system is self-centering/locking. The Wesmar and Naiad system (I think) require a pin to be manually inserted to hold the shaft centered and keep the fin from flopping unless system is energized. In your selection, you may want to validate this - would be a differentiator unless you plan to run the system energized every moment you're underway.
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:17 AM   #13
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Why would one system require hull blocks and the other not?

If the vessel runs aground , or is blown ashore to rest on a fin , the hull is reinforced so the fin does not tear a hole in the boat.

Sure the fin "should " break off , but this disaster has happened.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:03 AM   #14
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Attached picture is from a few days ago. You can see the size of the reinforcement block compared to the base plate on the new stabilizer. From memory, Wesmar specifies total thickness, including hull, of 4-inches. My original blocks were closer to 6-inches, so yard cut-down the thickness, guessing with multiple passes of a router or perhaps skilsaw kerfs planed smooth, than glassed over as shown in the picture. The wood beneath is laid-up plywood glued together in opposite directions to thickness.

The original Vosper Thorneycroft stabilizers were OEM to my Willard 36 when she was delivered in 1970. At the time, these systems were fairly custom and required substantial engineering - I still have the original blue-prints and engineering calculations that came with the boat. Must be over a dozen D-Size sheets (24"x36") neatly folded into a large envelope.

Bottom line, even though the pads are further strengthened by being glassed into a stringer and a bulkhead, because they were apparently carefully engineered, I would hesitate to make the pads smaller. Of course, not a decision I need to make - they are already there.

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Old 02-11-2020, 08:16 AM   #15
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One advantage of air: it doesn't make a mess when it leaks, and hydraulics will leak, now or in the future.
My old Vospers have not leaked in my 22-years of ownership. I've had to replace a couple hoses due to wear where they passed through a limber hole and I replaced the oil cooler heat exchanger ($125 part), but no leaks. I would think air would be more likely to leak and perhaps harder to detect, though maybe not - probably makes a helluva hissing noise when it does leak. I don't recall ever touching the oil except to top-up when replacing the hose or oil cooler. Maybe I should have changed the oil, but didn't.

Either way, I'm still curious what problem is being solved by going to pneumatic.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:59 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Attached picture is from a few days ago. You can see the size of the reinforcement block compared to the base plate on the new stabilizer. From memory, Wesmar specifies total thickness, including hull, of 4-inches. My original blocks were closer to 6-inches, so yard cut-down the thickness, guessing with multiple passes of a router or perhaps skilsaw kerfs planed smooth, than glassed over as shown in the picture. The wood beneath is laid-up plywood glued together in opposite directions to thickness.

The original Vosper Thorneycroft stabilizers were OEM to my Willard 36 when she was delivered in 1970. At the time, these systems were fairly custom and required substantial engineering - I still have the original blue-prints and engineering calculations that came with the boat. Must be over a dozen D-Size sheets (24"x36") neatly folded into a large envelope.

Bottom line, even though the pads are further strengthened by being glassed into a stringer and a bulkhead, because they were apparently carefully engineered, I would hesitate to make the pads smaller. Of course, not a decision I need to make - they are already there.

Attachment 99272
Wow, and I thought my OEM glassed in FRP pads were big and stout. Your setup is built to USN standards for sure, as are most other things on Willards. Too bad they don't build for the recreational markets anymore although I did hear that the cost to build to USN specs adds a "bit" more.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:38 AM   #17
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My old Vospers have not leaked in my 22-years of ownership.
You are quite lucky. I have hydraulics on the sailboat, and on numerous bits of construction and farm equipment. Leaks are a way of life with hydraulics. True that some seem to go for decades without, and some only a year or two, without a pattern that I can discern. Pneumatics leak just as often (have a bunch of those too) but don't make a mess.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:47 PM   #18
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You are quite lucky. I have hydraulics on the sailboat, and on numerous bits of construction and farm equipment. Leaks are a way of life with hydraulics. True that some seem to go for decades without, and some only a year or two, without a pattern that I can discern. Pneumatics leak just as often (have a bunch of those too) but don't make a mess.
I have pretty limited exposure to hydraulics, less to pneumatics. I've replaced hoses and rams and such, but, compared to other mechanical stuff, not a lot of experience. From the perspective of a novice, when is hydraulic used vs pneumatic, or vice-versa? I've always thought hydraulic, due to being incompressable, was beefier. I'm guessing food-grade package handling is air vs oil, but is there more to the design criteria? Why not use pneumatic thrusters or windlasses or stabilizers?
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:03 PM   #19
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If you don't do any PM, hydraulics will leak. So will compressed air systems, except it's treated air, not pure oil.

As I referred to in another post, GG has been around awhile, so they are not some fly by night operation. I think Hornloaded should buy a set and install them, and report back.

By the way Hornloaded, I love your screen name. What's the genesis of that? Way back in the day, I had a set of JBL speakers my brother in law built for me from plans JBL provided. Had a 15" woofer rear horn loaded, a horn mid range and a ring radiator tweeter, all JBL; beautifully made stuff. Great rock and roll speakers that could blast your ears out with a 35 watt per side tube amplifier.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:29 PM   #20
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ABT's are a steel sandwich install. No wooden blocks involved. It's one of the reasons I went with them when I installed fins on my old Grand Banks 47. The two large steel plates spread the load out over a much large section of hull. But the hull still needs to be strong enough, and whether air or hydraulic driven, equally effective fins will place the same load on the hull.
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