Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Hamburg and Wilson NY
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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