Opinions on Coursemaster Autopilots - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-28-2008 Thread Starter
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Opinions on Coursemaster Autopilots

Gday,

interested in any opinons on Coursemaster Autopilots. My existing autopilot (Benmar 214) is on the blink and I am thinking about upgrading to the Coursemaster CM85i. Boat is a heavy displacement 45ft ketch.

The existing hydraulic drive unit (Hydrive 314) appears to be working ok so I am planning on replacing the controlling unit as a first step. If I have problems later on Coursemaster also sell Hydrive units so I'm assuming compatibility will not be a problem.

Coursemaster also list remote units so this could also be an option.

Below is some details from their website:
The CM85i autopilot offers simple one-touch control, intelligent, self-tuning software and rate gyro compass. It is the perfect autopilot solution for both power and sailing vessels from 6m - 40m.
  • Large graphic display: rudder angle, backlit LCD with wide viewing angle, on-screen display of GPS information in a compact, waterproof 110 x 110mm case
  • Intelligent, self-tuning software: automatically adjusts for speed, sea conditions and trim
  • Interfaces: GPS, wind instruments, digital compass information
  • Autotack, autogybe with adjustable angle
  • Rate Gyro Compass: accurate courseholding, reduced fuel consumption, performance stability
  • Auto/manual compass calibrations
  • Drive options: linear, hydraulic, rotary, solenoid
  • Remote options: second station, remote steering, jog lever, electric steering



Any good or bad experiences with Coursemasters?

Ilenart

Last edited by Ilenart; 05-28-2008 at 06:44 AM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-30-2008
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Ian,

The new Womboat has a Coursemaster 100. This model is long since discontinued and was installed onto the WB mid eighties.

The electronics are still fine (meaning the control unit) and seems to be working perfectly after nigh on 30 years. Now this system was installed using a direct chain drive and there is a problem in there somewhere. The motor is receiving instructions and is doing it's thing but the drive wheel is not turning. What little I know about auto pilots of this type suggests that it is either a burnt out clutch and/or buggered gear box or that there is an automatic cutout that has been tripped and which I have to reset manually.
Worst case scenario is a new motor drive unit although CM do not support this model anymore so I am not sure if that is feasible.

OTOH the Model CM85i appears to be the heir to the CM100 and uses what appears to be an almost identical motor. It that is the case we will hit the PO for a new motor and we will foot the bill for the rest giving us a brand new CM85i. That decision will probably be made on the basis of ease of installation. Not having to make any mods to the steering quadrant will be a great plus I'd think. The motor should be a straight swap. The electricals should also be straight forward except for the addition wiring to make the thing talk to computer/gps.

Now, it appears that Coursemaster do have a pretty good reputation in Australia but don't appear to have much of an international presence which is probably why no one has responded to this before.

There are not all that many Oz boat builders left but I am a great admirer of BlueWater yachts up Lake MacQuarie way. I've met David Bradburn (the CEO) on one occasion only but was greatly impressed with his overall attitude and the quality of his work. Bluewater Yachts specify Autohelm with optional upgrade to Brooks and Gatehouse. There is a BW40 for sale at the moment with a CM6000 so it appears they have used them in the past or it was owner specified. (If I had half a million..........)

We will need to upgrade instruments in the new WB and I am looking at Simrad. If they did an autopilot I might be tempted to go that way should we go Simrad instruments. (Still investigating, to be honest the only reason I am looking at Simrad first is that we love the look of the stuff).

Don't know if any of that is much help to you. I figure any piece of marine electronics still working after 30 years cannot be all bad but who knows if the current gear is as good as the old.

Let me know what you end up doing.

What made you think CM in the first place ?

Hope answering this in th public forum dredges up a few more replies.

Cheers

Andrew B

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post #3 of 15 Old 05-30-2008
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TDW...FWIW...I love my Simrad AP.

No longer posting. Reach me by PM!
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-30-2008
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Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
TDW...FWIW...I love my Simrad AP.

Instruments ???

That new range of Simrad gear is soooooo sweet. Current instruments on the NWB are Navman. I notice that they have all been discontinued since the sell out. Of the three instruments, the log doesn't work at all, one of the others leaks but is still working and the third seems vaguely OK.

Whoopps ......hijack alert ......back to Coursemaster......

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post #5 of 15 Old 05-30-2008
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I hear good things about Simrad, and extremely negative things about Raymarine, surrounding in particular their cost of repairs, warranty issues and general bad attitude as typifies a company I can only assume would rather be feasting on well-larded U.S. defence contracts.

If you are interested in decent pilots, I would recommend ComNav or W-H Autopilots, which are Canadian and American respectively and are geared to the workboat/fisher/passagemaker market, meaning they are more reliable than flashy (see Koden/Furuno radars vs. Garmin/Raymarine for contrast).

I will likely mate a ComNav to my Marol hydraulic steering, unless they insist I go with their model of Teleflex.
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-31-2008 Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the replies.

TDW, I was looking at Coursemaster as the current hydraulic steering in my boat is Hydrive and Coursemaster are the distributors of Hydrive units. As the hydraulic unit has been working almost 30 years without any major issues it sounds like their products are pretty good.

I was also a bit concerned about compatibility of the Coursemaster controller with the Benmar / Hydrive hydraulic unit. However I have now worked out that it is fairly common to use a different brand controller with the drive unit. Coursemaster's website specifically mentions that their units are compatible with Benmar drive units (as well as Raymarine, Simrad, Comnav, TMQ, etc). However it is not with the CM85i but rather the CM800AC-HD, CM850AC-HD or CM650AC. As these look like beefy commercial products it's probably not a issue (except probably more $).

The other thing that attracted me to Coursemaster was when I read David Adam's book "Chasing Liquid Mountains" when he won class 2 of the BOC around the world race in 1995. His main autopilots were Coursemaster 600's. In the race the Coursemaster's worked fine. The only problem he had was that the autopilot was "without fear" and he had to handsteer for 48 hours in a 50-60kt storm in the Southern Ocean to stop the boat from capsizing . Apparently this storm had 12-18m (40-60ft) waves and his 50ft yacht was surfing down the waves like a big longboard.

Overall it sounds like Coursemaster are good reliable products. TDW, like you said they are not very well known outside of Oz.

Valiente, thanks for the suggestion however neither ComNav or W-H Autopilots appear to be available locally. My local chanderly stocks Coursemaster, Raymarine and Navman products.

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post #7 of 15 Old 05-31-2008
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FWIW when I was replacing my autopilot, I consulted with Simrad and Raymarine and both told me that essentially any hydraulic reversing pump can be used with any computer (provided computer power output is compatible, Raymarine seems to want to sell you S2G systems for any non-raymarine pumps). So it should certainly be possible to mix these parts.
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-02-2008
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Ilenart,
Seems to me that the 85 and the 800/850 differ only in the control box/display. The 85 has the ability to link to two stations which is perhaps an advantage. From what I can see the mechanical components are all common.

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post #9 of 15 Old 06-11-2011
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Coursemaster

Course master
Before you buy try getting any info from this company, I stopped trying and I wanted to buy option for my autopilot! I would never buy from them,
Weeks asking for help! Need a 85i I an
M having builder pull it
Cappy
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post #10 of 15 Old 12-06-2012
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Thumbs up Re: Opinions on Coursemaster Autopilots

I have a CM85i in my cavalier 37. It works like a charm and was quite a bit cheaper than the alternatives at just under $4000 for the entire package including linear hydraulic drive. I have circumnavigated Tasmania and extensively cruised Bas Strait with it and I am totally satisfied with it. It developed a problem a while back which I wasn't able to identify. I contacted the Tech guy at Coursemaster and he asked me to send up the compass and junction box and reported that they were both in working order. He didn't charge me for the service or the return freight. With his advice I was able to trace the problem to a bad connection and it is now working like new again. I am very happy with the product and the backup service. Support the Aussie company.
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