SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"? - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 18 Old 07-18-2011
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tried cooling fans, did not help much. May be a little, but still after about 8 hours under sail the course computer decided to quit again. So I decided to try Raymarine customer service. At first tried the web site and e-mail. That was slow. Phone call worked much faster. Sent the lazy unit in and got back what seems like a new one only a few days later, less than a week. So far so good. Will try installing it next w/e. I have read in this forum some complaints about Raymarine customer service, but in my experience it was not so bad at all.
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post #12 of 18 Old 07-18-2011
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Originally Posted by SVPrairieRose View Post
I would love to see metal gearing in the drive unit as I have done one warranty swap out after less than a year of service. The opportunity is there but it would as you suspect be pricey to re-engineer with proper gearing.
Whats Prairie Rose ? Your profile says MC39. Doesn't mean anything to me but that must be very close to being more boat than an X5 can handle.

ps - I found a photo of a Prairie Rose (a Marcos Yachts MC39). That looks like a solid lump of a lass. Displacement ?

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post #13 of 18 Old 01-30-2013
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Re: SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"?

I've got an x5 wheel pilot on our Pearson 34. We don't rely on it for long periods of time or if the weather is up. On the last day of the season last year, ours gave up. Suddenly made an awful grinding noise and would not turn the wheel. I finally got around to taking it all apart tonight. I think the motor is fine. If I apply DC to it, it spins just fine as long as it's not engaged in the gearbox. If I attach it to the gear box, it just grinds and doesn't turn the pully (belt completely loose). So I guess I got a fried Gearbox. I'm not having any luck finding the part. I suppose this means replacing the whole assembly? I'll call Raymarine tomorrow. Anyone got any other ideas on where to look, I'm all ears.


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post #14 of 18 Old 01-30-2013
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Re: SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"?

I've had an X-5 Wheel pilot on my boat for over a year now and it has performed very original perception of it when I took it out of the box was "uh-oh, this looks like a flimsy P O S".......and the housing is pretty lightweight but it has held up being used almost every weekend since I installed it, mostly on daysails on the river but also on a couple of overnight sails in the Atlantic. If there is a weak point it would have to be the gears as previously mentioned.

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post #15 of 18 Old 01-30-2013
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Re: SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"?

If my Grandfather was still alive he would relish the idea of copying most of it in some sort of metal.

As a SeaBee he made replacement aircraft, jeep, tank, etc parts from stock and scrap metal out of a mobile machine shop in the Pacific islands during WWII.

He used to piss me off because he wouldn't go to the hardware store to buy even a bolt. He would make just about everything.

That mindset, sadly, is lost.

'88 C&C 30 MKII
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"?

The upgrade i did for my X-5 is to sew a sunbrella cover over the whole steering wheel. Prevent long term expose of plastic parts to sunlight.

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post #17 of 18 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"?

Originally Posted by scraph View Post
I'm guessing there are a handful of other engineers on this site, at least. I'm about to get my hands on the Raymarine X-5 SmartPilot Wheel autopilot setup. I read post after post of the problems with these units (which I'm assuming is similar to restaurant reviews ... you only hear from those disatisfied). I understand that they aren't the strongest devices on the planet ... and below-deck autopilot, blah, blah, blah. Has anyone, if only for the sake of challenge, tore into these drive units with component upgrades in mind? Whenever I hear "weak units" in any instance I begin to look for my own solutions. I hear about "cheap plastics parts" always failing in these ... has no one fabricated their own components out of stronger materials?
OK, so I've got one of those below decks things you don't want to hear about. Never the less, I will concede that it should be possible to improve a wheel type drive to the point of making it useful. My concern, in the interest of keeping it safe and practical, would be to keep in mind that most any device will have a failure point. If you beef up the gears, maybe the belt will break. If you improve both belt and gears, then something else will go. Like with the idea of a shear pin, the only point is to be aware of what the weakest link is and then also make sure the point of failure is easy and cheap to replace. If you improve the motor system and it delivers more force, it will also take more current, it could turn out that the weakest link is the power transistor that delivers the current. That's not where you want the weak link.

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post #18 of 18 Old 01-31-2013
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Re: SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Drive Unit "Upgrades"?

This is actually a fairly old thread; I wonder whether the OP has made any modifications.

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