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Old 05-30-2020, 09:31 AM   #1
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City: Pensacola
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Autopilot question

I would like to get a new autopilot this year for my 44MT. It still has the original chain driven manual steering. Anyone have recent experience with this?
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Old 05-30-2020, 09:45 AM   #2
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I had an ancient analog chain drive AP in my old GB which had cable steering. Almost all digital APs are designed to run hydraulic steering, and if you do find one which can be made to drive a cable steering system, the motor they want to sell you would be outrageously expensive. There was NO way I was going to convert to hydraulic steering by ripping out a perfectly functioning cable system. Because the chain drive AP motor and its associated chain and sprockets were OK, I had the local AP expert do a small rewiring job to allow the motor to accept the steering inputs from the new digital Sitex AP I bought through him. He charged me a couple hundred bucks on top of the AP cost to modify the motor and to provide a site survey and technical assistance with the install if needed. I did not need any help to installing, connecting and adjusting the AP during sea trial, and the whole rig is as bulletproof as can be.
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Old 05-30-2020, 10:12 AM   #3
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Good advise from Rich above.
The older chain drive motors are for the most part bullet proof. You would be hard pressed to find a motor today built like the older ones. They are a basic 4 wire motor. If you call Comnav they will be very helpful. Most likely they will direct you to a product that will connect to your existing chain drive motor.

https://comnav.com/autopilot/

It’s a good time to check the existing sprockets, wire cable, and pulley system.
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Old 05-30-2020, 10:36 AM   #4
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Just to clarify, there is no existing AP. I do have a Simrad AP 30 control, junction box, and compass from a previous boat. Just need the steering gear. Seems most of what I've seen online is all for existing hydraulic steering.
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Old 05-30-2020, 03:59 PM   #5
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Have looked into drives for sailboats? Most sailboats with wheels are cable and chain. PYI has several Jeffa drives that might work. There are also others. Most can be adapted to the existing tillar arm. Some have sproket drives.
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Old 05-30-2020, 07:10 PM   #6
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My charter boat has mechanical steering. Accu-steer makes a hydraulic cylinder that attaches to the rudder arm like normal hydraulic steering. It has short hoses and the hydraulic power pack. When the autopilot is disengaged, a valve in the power pack opens allowing oil to flow from one side of the steer cylinder to the other. So you retain your original steering and have the autopilot system. Should one system fail, they are completely independent of each other, and you could reach safe harbor with the other.

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Old 05-30-2020, 07:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
My charter boat has mechanical steering. Accu-steer makes a hydraulic cylinder that attaches to the rudder arm like normal hydraulic steering. It has short hoses and the hydraulic power pack. When the autopilot is disengaged, a valve in the power pack opens allowing oil to flow from one side of the steer cylinder to the other. So you retain your original steering and have the autopilot system. Should one system fail, they are completely independent of each other, and you could reach safe harbor with the other.

Ted
That sounds like what I need. I'll check it out.
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Old 05-31-2020, 05:39 AM   #8
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With mechanical steering , if it has been looked after, , there is little that can compare in cost or efficiency with a quality sailboat wheel steering unit.

Very easy to install, virtually no maint , and steers really well as motor boats are usually more stable (wont change direction much in unstable breeze).

Search function on this site will help.
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