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teshannon 10-06-2007 09:32 PM

When is it time to replace your autopilot?
I never had an autopilot before my current boat. It has an Autohelm 6000, I'm guessing about 15 years old. So far I'm not pleased with it's performance. In a moderate chop it wanders a good bit. I should measure it but I'm going to guess 10 degrees either side of the course while motoring, perhaps a bit more. It has rudder sensitivity adjustment but that doesn't help much. I've been thinking of upgrading to a Simrad but I'd hate to spend the dollars and find that it performs the same as my Autohelm. I occurrs to me I don't really have any knowledge as to what to expect from an autopilot. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

SailorMitch 10-06-2007 09:47 PM

As far as I know, Simrad is no longer making their Wheel Pilot line of AP's if that is what you're considering. They had brought out a new model, the WP32 and apparently even that has been nixed. I just asked a Simrad guy at the Naptown boat show what the story is, and he said that Simrad is consolidating manufacturing plants and no longer has space to build the WP's. He agreed with me that they sold a fair number of the WP's. Go figure? I just happen to need a new belt for my WP-30 and he was able to give me a couple of leads on that. their west coast office is out of them at present. (On the whole, this all doesn't sound very promising does it?)

cruisingdream 10-06-2007 09:54 PM

I have a simrad wheel pilot about 4 years old.
Last year the belt broke, called simrad they said they don't support that unit anymore and did not have replacement belts. after about a week of searching on the internet I finally found them & bought a new one and a spare.
3 weeks ago hit the tack button & started going in circles got it to stop but now only wants to track south. So if simrad doesn't support wheel pilots where do you send it to to get repaired.
I should have gotten the Raymarine version the extra hundred bucks would have been well worth it (I also replaces my instruments this past year ... with Raymarine so if they have a problem 4 years from now I can get them serviced)

cruisingdream 10-06-2007 09:56 PM

Sailormitch I have a couple of extra belts (got 4) and if I can't fix my wp they are no use to me

teshannon 10-06-2007 10:03 PM

I have a below deck linear drive unit. Does Simead make a below deck model? The more I think about it I'm veering off course by a good bit more than 10 degrees. It's enough to make me look up and wonder if it will come back. I really need to measure the variance.

SailorMitch 10-06-2007 11:15 PM


Originally Posted by cruisingdream (Post 203193)
Sailormitch I have a couple of extra belts (got 4) and if I can't fix my wp they are no use to me

Thanks -- I may take you up on that! But call Simrad back about repairing the unit. When I called last week about the belt the guy told me they had several units there waiting for their supply of belts to come in, so I gather they at least will replace belts. Might be worth a check to see if they will repair the electronics in yours. And if not and you're ready to junk the unit anyway, them PM me about the belts.

camaraderie 10-07-2007 10:39 AM can get a Simrad under deck with hydraulic driven piston arm. Your boat need something substanial like that. You will see a world of difference in performance. Youalready know it is not cheap to do this so it is really a question of how badly you need the better performance.

capttb 10-07-2007 11:13 AM

Is it just veering off in one direction but seems to be steering pretty straight ? might only need calibration.

teshannon 10-07-2007 11:13 AM

Thanks. I'm in the process of getting an estimate so I'll soon know what the better performance will cost me. I don't have a lot of faith with my current unit and spend a lot of time just watching it cycle back and forth. I want a unit that I would be comfortable ducking down below to get a beer for a minute without wondering where we're going now. Perhaps my Autohelm 6000 was underdesigned for the boat from day one.

teshannon 10-07-2007 11:40 AM

It veers to both sides of my course and by varying amounts. I've tried adjusting the rudder control but it does not help. It always comes back to course but I'm going in an "S" pattern. In flat water it does just fine. I've not used it much under sail but then you have the variable of sail trim which I know will be a factor anyway. Looking at Cams comment it may be that 30,000 lbs of boat is too much for a linear drive.

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