Originally Posted by Frosty
XSbank: Maybe I'm just wimpy, but for long-distance work I don't like to have to hand steer (and I think Weebles is being set up for that?). I suppose then a complete second autopilot would be best; but I got the impression that Weebles already has a second pump (only) so why not "store" it in place.
Frosty - good way of putting it; "store-in-place." That's exactly right.
Story-Time: On my way from San Francisco to Ensenada, the A/P goes <ERROR> code about 250-miles from Ensenada, right as I turned the corner at Pt Conception and into the shipping lane exiting the Santa Barbara Channel (in all fairness, it's not exactly a busy shipping lane). Of course it's 0200 hrs or something, so I hand-steer. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I'm an awful hand-steer helmsman, especially at night or if there is any fog out. I easily swing 25-degrees in any direction.
When my crew - one of my best friend's in the world and who has 1000's of sea miles with me - comes on-watch at first light, he's telling me "Let's see if we can fix the A/P pump."
I'm pushing-back saying "no way - these things are integral, there's no fixing it."
To which he points out "So, you have somewhere else to be? Too busy?"
Point taken. So I empty-out the aft lazaretter and unscrew the covers over the rudder and A/P. It had been so long that I forgot my A/P pump is a relic, probably from an ancient Wood Freeman (see picture). There's a reversible electrical motor (replete with case-mounted capacitor) that belt-drives a small hydraulic pump. The controls are a modern Comnav 1001 that was probably installed a few years before I purchased the boat in 1998 but the pump itself is 1960's technology. Turns out the cast aluminum sheave had split and was spinning on the shaft. We managed to drill a set screw and get it back in service.
When I got to Ensenada, I emptied all my lockers. I found a new-old-stock Comnav A/P pump that I forgot I'd purchased years ago at a West Marine Bargain Store (how I miss those!). Given labor is pretty cheap in Mexico, installing a second pump isn't much. For me, beyond a total drive-train failure, losing radar and losing A/P are about the only things that would stop me cold. I'm prone to multi-day runs, so A/P is a big deal.
Have I mentioned I'm lousy at hand-steering?