Auto-pilot installation strategies on quadrant steering - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 01-21-2008
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Auto-pilot installation strategies on quadrant steering

I'm stumped. My quadrant steering mechanism looks VERY different from the pictures in the Sirad manual. I will post pictures as soon as I have them, but for now, here's this issue...

For starters, the working area is tight. The entire mechanism occupies an enclosed interior crawl space, bordered on either side by a quarterberth to port and an exterior lazzarette to starboard. The aft end of the area is closed off - it's a bulkhead. Therefore, the only real access is from behind the companionway ladder, proceeding aft into the crawl space. There are small access ports from both the 1/4berth and the lazzarett, but they offer limited access.

What I found when I crawled up in there was that the quadrant afixed to the rudder post is facing aft. It has 90-degrees of travel using stops that are afixed to the interior walls of the crawl space. And it's big - the diameter of the semicircle it creates in its full range of travel is about 30 inches. Again, the whole range of travel keeps the quadrant aft of the rudder post. Given it's aft-facing orientation, I can't see the quadrant very well - let alone get create an attachment point for the actuating arm of an Autopilot.

And even if I did have access, I'd never be able to fit the AP drive unit in the crawl space - the outter edge of the quadrant just clears the interior walls of the space

Furthermore, the pully system is on plane with the quadrant, so even if I could attach the drive arm to the quadrant, and I punched a hole into the 1/4 berth to mount the drive unit, the rod of the drive unit would interfere with the mounting brackets of the cabling/pulleys that are driving the quadrant.

I did notice, I do have good access to the rudder post itself. There's about 6 inches exposed below the attachment point of the quadrant.

I need some strategies to solve these space and access constraints. Some thoughts I've had that need feedback:

1) Can I connect the AP drive arm to a bolt or similar structure attached to the quadrant, but pentrating well below it - giving me the ability to mount the drive mechanism below the plane of the pulley system?

2) Can I create a NEW point of attachment by using the exposed area of the rudder shaft, allowing me to orient the drive unit 90-degrees from the traditional orientation? I'm talking about not using the quadrant at all, but rather, creating a new structure on the rudder shaft, for the sole purpose of attaching the drive arm of the AP unit. The rudder post is 2" diameter stainless. How could I do this without comprimizing the integrity of the post and with confidence it wouldn't "slip" under load?

Last edited by Pub911; 01-21-2008 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 01-22-2008
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Pub...
Answer to #1 is NO!
Answer to #2 is maybe...good chance. best way is to have a similar mechanism to the existing quadrant keyed into the shaft stock but other alternatives may exist depending on room, clearance access, angles etc.

As I said earlier...figuring out and securing a suitable mounting for an underdeck pilot is often the most difficult and expensive part of any installation.
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Old 01-22-2008
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Good grief...you might consider rack and pinion instead of quadrant...that sounds like it works just fine...until you want to make the slightest change!
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Old 01-22-2008
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I had enough trouble with a rudder position sensor.. yikes.

The best way to attach a tiller arm is going to be to drop the rudder and have a machine shop cut a key way. IMO that is the only way for solid SS. You might be able to drill and tap the rudderpost.. but this method if not done correctly could fatally weaken rudderpost. One way or another it must be mechanically connected. You might get lucky. My rudderpost has a key way machined over about 4 inches enough for quadrant and tillerarm, presumable to allow for positioning the quadrant.
Whatever you do do it right. Any cutting, tapping, drilling have done by a professional machinist.

Mounting advice:
http://www.edsonmarine.com/ecatalogs/sail/00021.htm

Tiller arms:
http://www.edsonmarine.com/ecatalogs/sail/00060.htm1

Last edited by sailboy21; 01-22-2008 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 01-22-2008
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Your best bet is to post pictures - what you are trying to do - has been done. Most of us probably though had someone else install it...
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Old 01-22-2008
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Pub911-

It would really help if you said what kind of boat you have. Chances are fairly high that someone here may have one or may have worked on one, and knows a good way to get around this problem. Garbage in ----> Garbage out.

Photos would help too.

I'd have to agree with Cam on points 1 & 2. If you try extending something off the quadrant, it will be very unlikely to stand up to the stress of the torque applied to it by the quadrant, since it will act as a lever arm—unless the piece is substantially designed to spread the stress out and transmit the force of the autopilot to the quadrant.
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Old 01-22-2008
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Hi Pub,

Make and model of boat would be very helpful.

My boat is on the hard a couple of towns south of you, in Shelton. And sail out of Milford Harbor. Where do you sail out of?
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My boat is a 1972 NorthStar 38, aka Hughes 38. Sloop rig, S&S design. LOA = 38, LOW 21 or so, partial skeg-hung "barn door" rudder.

And Denby, I think I'm on the hard in the same yard - Beacon Point, aka Murphy's on Rt. 110, upriver from the Merrit bridge. The boat is in the center circle of boats, 2/3 deep into the parking lot, facing west on the west side of the double row of boats. Her white mast is up with a Ratheon radar dome and a small TV antenna that looks like a little white frisbee. Blue bottom, dark blue topsides. Name on transom under the tarp = SERENA.

Please keep the help coming. Thanks all.

P
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Sailingdog, I thought about the leverage issue of a drop-mount for the drive arm, and figured a bolt wouldn't cut it - but didn't want to get into all that on my first post.

If I were to use this strategy - a drop mount, that is - I assume I'll need to fabricate a rectangular plate attached via bolts on all 4 corners, or rectangular solid in order to provide some resistance to the leverage over a larger area on the quadrant vs a single bolt dropping down the necessary 3-4 inches. Would that make option 1 feasible?

I will post pictures as soon as I can get back in there.
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Pub911-

Without a photo of the quadrant, I can't really say much.
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