Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: East Greenwich, Rhode Island
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linear versus hydraulic drives
Big boats have hydraulic drives because many already have accessories that are hydraulic. (bow thrusters, windlasses, steering). Since they already have a source for hydraulic pressure, the very reliable hydraulic drive makes sense. On smaller boats where no such source exists, it would be very expensive to install a hydraulic pressure source just to power an autopilot. The linear drives have become very good, and while the hydraulic system is probably somewhat superior, the additional cost can't be justified.