Originally Posted by Kajungizmo
Olson is probably correct. Less expensive wheel pilots are made with less expensive parts. Manufacturers often turn to cheaper parts to keep costs down. Quality suffers more than your checkbook. Sad to say, but you get what you pay for (which is okay, as long as you understand this).
If you've installed the unit yourself, and are confident it functions correctly (smooth operation of the wheel when AP is engaged, not binding or grinding) then the most likely answer is "normal ops".
I quite agree that it is most likely a parts issue, since the noise wouldn't occur if the inside ring rolled on say rubber wheels versus hard plasitic loosely held in plastic holders. However, for my installation, I really didn't have a choice of products, other than a $6k custom install of a below deck hydraulic unit, which was never going to happen on my 25 year old 22' boat (nice as it is). I will be playing with ways to put a little pressure on the asembly to take up the play that now allows the parts to stay loose and free to rattle with the engine vibrations. I don't think it is practical to add some sort of soft coating to the interior surfaces. Fortunately this is just a problem under power and not using AP, but i do motor several miles on each outing.