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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-06-2008
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Which Auto Pilot?

Hello all,
well we have saved and saved and now its time to buy some goodies for the boat. We have a Cheiftain 38 sloop with a transom mounted rudder that is controlled by wheel and cables to a quadrant on the rudder. We would like to install a auto pilot but having absolutley no idea about these installations I am after opinions on which brand and what type is recommended. We do coastal sailing with a view to some limited blue water sailing in Australia.
At the recent Sydney Boat show I was quite impressed by the simrad brand but that may have just been the salesman who knew his product. I do have concerns regarding connecting a hydraulic ram to the quadrant but I think thats just me being a tad old fashioned compared to the older wheel style auto helm style.
Any input would be greatly appreciated


Regards
Sue and Greg
Lake Macquarie
New South Wales in Oz
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Old 08-06-2008
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I wouldn't go with a hydraulic ram since you have a cable and quadrant system. Unless the boat is really heavy, I would go with a linear drive below deck autopilot. Hydraulics only really make sense on a really heavy boat with hydraulic steering IMHO. How much does the Chieftain displace??
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Old 08-06-2008
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Ozsailor,

I've heard some good reports about Coursemaster autopilots. This thread here gives some further details. They are an Oz company and theire website is here

Ilenart
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Old 08-06-2008
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There is a hydraulic driven ram drive for the Simrad Dawg and it works fine and is more reliable than the screwtype linear drives in my opinion. I have owned both types and presently have the Simrad on my cable driven quadrant. I am well pleased with the performance.

Oz...the nice thing about the under deck quadrant attachment is that if your steering cables fail which is not an uncommon occurence...you can still steer the boat with the auto pilot. Have no fear...underdeck is the way to go if you are cruising in a larger boat and have the room and access for it.
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Old 08-06-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
There is a hydraulic driven ram drive for the Simrad Dawg and it works fine and is more reliable than the screwtype linear drives in my opinion.
SD SKOOLED!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-06-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
There is a hydraulic driven ram drive for the Simrad Dawg and it works fine and is more reliable than the screwtype linear drives in my opinion. I have owned both types and presently have the Simrad on my cable driven quadrant. I am well pleased with the performance.
how does hydraulic pilot work with non-hydraulic steering? I.e. what happens when you hand-steer? Does the rudder post move and in turn push/pull the hydraulic ram?
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Brak...it is an electrically driven hydraulic pump which actuates the linear piston. The ram is tied to the steering quadrant through a bolted joint. Valving takes it out of the circuit when the AP is not steering and the ram merely slides freely back and forth. It is much faster than the screw type mechanisms and I believe more powerful and reliable under long term load.
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Cam-

Most of the hydraulic systems I've seen tie into the hydraulic steering, and use a pump like this:



I agree a hydraulic unit would probably be more robust, since the seals can be made very strong, and the linear drive units tend to be a bit less dependable. I wasn't aware that Simrad had made a standalone hydraulic system that automatically cut the cylinder from the steering system when it wasn't operating.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 08-06-2008
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I have that Simrad hydraulic drive system on my boat. When the AP is not on, you can very easily steer the boat, however you can also pull the cotter pin and detach the drive unit from the quadrant.

My system is technically not a Simrad, it's a Robertson which Simrad bought many years ago. I fried some connections in my remote a few weeks ago and I needed to contact Simrad to see what types of replacements parts or service I could get. Well it turned out that my unit was so old that they no longer have parts or people on staff who are trained to fix this unit. I spoke to a guy at Simrad for hours on the phone about how I could possibly attempt to repair the unit myself and about the products available on the market today. I don't know what the guys position is at Simrad, but he knew everything about the new, old and products under development. I could have talked to him for as long as I wanted. Not too sure if you can get that level of service at all vendors.

The Hydraulic drive unit on the old Robertson system is the same drive unit that they sell today, so if I were to upgrade I wouldn't have to replace the drive unit. I was just about to buy the AP2802 system (package that includes the AP28 control unit, rudder feedback, computer, etc.) and reuse my drive unit (undamaged), but I sucessfully rewired and fixed my remote and I am back in action. I'll continue to buy Simrad for APs..
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Dawg...yep...that's why I wanted to broaden your education!
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