Tiller Pilot size solution for a big boat, need help! - SailNet Community

   Search Sailnet:

 forums  store  


Quick Menu
Forums           
Articles          
Galleries        
Boat Reviews  
Classifieds     
Search SailNet 
Boat Search (new)

Shop the
SailNet Store
Anchor Locker
Boatbuilding & Repair
Charts
Clothing
Electrical
Electronics
Engine
Hatches and Portlights
Interior And Galley
Maintenance
Marine Electronics
Navigation
Other Items
Plumbing and Pumps
Rigging
Safety
Sailing Hardware
Trailer & Watersports
Clearance Items

Advertise Here






Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
 Not a Member? 
  #1  
Old 01-09-2012
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 9
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Sailor_Rob is on a distinguished road
Tiller Pilot size solution for a big boat, need help!

I just bought a boat and am looking to put on a tiller pilot for extended cruising. It's a 38' Stephens Farralon Clipper, and displaces 18,000 pounds.

Price is somewhat important, because I want to buy two in case one dies out in the middle of a big ocean crossing. I am planning to cross the Pacific Ocean. I'm using a sheet-to-tiller self steering system, but would like to have the autopilot as well for dead downwind work.

The Simrad TP32 unit is $600, but will only work for a boat displacing 14,000 or less.

The Raymarine X-5 will work for a displacement of up to 16,000 (not enough) and costs $1500, a bit much if you ask me.

Other units can't rate for the displacement either

Correct me if I am wrong, but as long as I have the sails trimmed well, and very little weather helm, the size of the pilot shouldn't matter too much. That being said, I don't want to be burning these things up all the time either.

A solution that plenty of cruisers have used in the past (with great success) is to hook the tiller pilot up to the auxiliary rudder on their windvanes. I won't have a windvane, and can't be convinced to carry one. I was thinking that a small auxiliary rudder setup may be in order so that I can hook my tiller pilot to it. Another thought would be to extend the tiller, giving the tiller pilot more leverage so that it had to do less work. Sure, it would be less responsive, but maybe it would still be responsive enough to work.

What are your thoughts on this? Anyone with a similar experience or solution?
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #2  
Old 01-10-2012
pvanv1's Avatar
Hinterhoeller HR28
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Hamburg and Wilson NY
Posts: 156
Thanks: 9
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 7
pvanv1 is on a distinguished road
IMHO, the Simrad product far outperforms the Ray. With tiller pilots, bigger is always better. Faster hardover time, better overall response and strength. This from decades of using "supposedly" correct-sized TP units on my 8,000-pound (loaded, 7,000-pounds "dry") HR28. I currently have a TP30 (the earlier model of the TP32), and it is just about right for our boat, which is less than half the displacement of yours. Lets me be a little sloppy with sail balancing. The Ray/Autohelm 800 (earlier analog units) and 1000 were jokes, and junky. After several repairs, I ended the agony by actually jettisoning the old Ray TP overboard, much to the surprise and dismay of the crew. Of course, I was on Lake Ontario, and hand-steering was no problem... a hundred miles, not thousands. The Simrad has performed well, after a minor (and prompt, cheerful) warranty repair to the internal computer.

Since your boat is beyond the capacity of any commercially-available TP, you need to expect less than stellar performance. And you will need to balance the sails the best you can just to get it to work OK. If you overwork the TP, it will suck a lot of amps per day as it works harder than designed. Keep in mind that NO autopilot will steer as well as a human when running downwind, as they need to detect a compass error and then compensate, whereas a human can sense the thrust, and see the waves, and compensating BEFORE the course is off even a degree or two. However, they do steer well on all points of sail when (optionally) connected to a masthead vane, steering "to the wind" instead of steering to the compass.

No, don't tinker with the geometry by extending the tiller mounting location, as you will not get enough stroke from the TP if you are too far from the rudderpost. You CAN set up the TP to operate a windpilot arrangement (in place of the wind vane); It's done all the time, and works well, using the thrust of the aux rudder to operate the tiller.

If you can fit one, you might prefer to use a below-decks pilot, as they tend to be more robust and durable, albeit a lot more expensive. However, that would require access to the rudderpost tube, and installation of a quadrant lever on the rudderpost.
__________________
Paul Van Voorhees
Certified Tohatsu TLDI Technician
Mgr, Obersheimer Sails
Buffalo, NY USA
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #3  
Old 01-10-2012
MikeOReilly's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Posts: 1,132
Thanks: 104
Thanked 52 Times in 46 Posts
Rep Power: 5
MikeOReilly is on a distinguished road
I'm in the same boat as you Rob , although in our case the situation is even more challenging. Our Rafiki-37 displaces 28,000#. The rudder is completely exterior aft hung, so there isn't even the option of a below-deck model (which would be the best answer for our size of boats).

I've also come down to the two same options, the Simrad TP32 or the Raymarine X-5. When I posted this question on another forum (which one is better?) I received general consensus that the Raymarine was more robust and better quality, so I'm very interested in your comments pvanv1.

BTW, I'm not sure why you are dead set against a windvane Rob. We use an old Aries and it works fine in wind over 10kn. The stronger the wind, the better it works. Windvanes are expensive (although used would be cheaper), and a challenge to mount, but for a Pacific passage I would think they'd be a lot better than any electric option.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #4  
Old 01-11-2012
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 9
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Sailor_Rob is on a distinguished road
Below deck autopilots

Thanks for the advice guys!

I'm not too keen on a windvane because I am using a sheet-to-tiller arrangement to steer the boat most of the time. It works great for me, it's cheap, and other than a bit of time to set it up properly it is easy. I just don't see the need to add another $3k piece of equipment when I have a system that works.

The tiller pilot is my other option (for redundancy). Since I am crossing the Pacific, I would like to have one for sure.

You guys mentioned that a below decks pilot would be best. So which one? Any recommendations on a good below deck autopilot?
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #5  
Old 01-14-2012
MikeOReilly's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Posts: 1,132
Thanks: 104
Thanked 52 Times in 46 Posts
Rep Power: 5
MikeOReilly is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor_Rob View Post
I'm not too keen on a windvane because I am using a sheet-to-tiller arrangement to steer the boat most of the time. It works great for me, it's cheap, and other than a bit of time to set it up properly it is easy. I just don't see the need to add another $3k piece of equipment when I have a system that works.
Agreed. If that works for you, then certainly no need for the windvane. I've never tried to rig this system, probably b/c our boat came with the Aries, but it sounds great. Can you sail all points sheet-to-tiller? Downwind OK?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor_Rob View Post
You guys mentioned that a below decks pilot would be best. So which one? Any recommendations on a good below deck autopilot?
When I was researching the question I came up with few options. These are heavy-duty units designed to couple directly with the steering column in some mechanical way. They are rated for heavy displacement boats.

Drive Units | SIMRAD Autopilots | All Boat Sizes and Types

Raymarine Marine Electronics - SmartPilot Modular Autopilots

I have no experience with either b/c our boat's rudder has no interior parts -- nothing to connect to. I briefly considered trying to mount one of these units in the cockpit, but neither are waterproof, so I abandoned the idea.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #6  
Old 01-14-2012
Stu Jackson's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 799
Thanks: 0
Thanked 9 Times in 8 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Stu Jackson is on a distinguished road
If you're using John Lechter's Self Steering for Small Craft sheet-to-tiller arrangements, why do you think you need an AP at all? The whole thrust of his book was that he never needed one at all.
__________________
Stu Jackson, C34, 1986, M25 engine, Rocna 10 (22#)
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #7  
Old 01-15-2012
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 21
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
robwilk37 is on a distinguished road
something i dont understand...
if the rudder is of a balanced design with some area in front of the rudder post, why does the displacement matter? i mean if the load on the tiller is hydrodynamicly balanced then even a small pilot should work if its got the stroke length. this obviously doesnt apply to the pure barn doors...
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

 
Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Which Tiller Pilot Flybyknight Gear & Maintenance 13 09-26-2011 11:58 AM
Advice for repair of tiller pilot->tiller connection jgsteven Gear & Maintenance 2 09-11-2009 04:53 PM
Which tiller pilot to buy? jgsteven Gear & Maintenance 8 03-27-2009 08:11 PM
Simrad Tiller Pilot jerryr Gear & Maintenance 21 09-25-2008 09:47 PM
tiller pilot for 38 Ingrid obiec Gear & Maintenance 0 05-10-2003 06:30 AM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:55 PM.

Add to My Yahoo!         
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
(c) Marine.com LLC 2000-2012

The SailNet.com store is owned and operated by a company independent of the SailNet.com forum. You are now leaving the SailNet forum. Click OK to continue or Cancel to return to the SailNet forum.