Is a wheelpilot a good option for me? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-26-2012 Thread Starter
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Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

I had an idea the other day (this is when the wife usually rolls her eyes) about out boat's steering plan.

Our plan for steering on our planned 5 year trip from the PNW to circumnavigate Australia will be to use a high quality below-decks autopilot as the primary means of self steering. I had originally wanted a Cape Horn wind-vane but after doing some soul searching I decided that a high quality autopilot was the way to go for several reasons.

Now for my idea. I was a little worried about redundancy in the self steering department and wanted to come up with an alternative. What I thought might be an acceptable alternative is a wheel-pilot. They're cheaper than a 4-5K below-deck version and could provide some level of backup in case of primary failure. The other nice thing about this option is that we could afford one now, and could be enjoying autopilot bliss for the next few years rather than waiting several years to buy the fancy one.

Now my question. Is there a wheelpilot made that will work for my boat? From my searching it looks like Raymarine is the only player in town and they only have 2 models. Both are not rated for my displacement (28,000lb dry). What happened to all the other brands???? Are wheelpilots really out of fashion and are they only for smaller/lighter boats?

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post #2 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

I think Simrad is still around, and Ray (erps) installed a pretty heavy-duty-looking wheel pilot a while back that was not RM and I believe it's working for him. Nikko is probably over 20,000 lbs too, I'd guess.

Here's his post: http://tinyurl.com/ray-s-AP

I think that whether a wheel pilot will work for you will mainly depend on the steering system and the loads on the wheel itself. If it's a multi-turn hydraulic setup the wheel pilot may not have enough gain/speed to be effective.

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Last edited by Faster; 08-26-2012 at 06:32 PM.
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

I asked a similer question a few days ago and someone responded with this option:
CPT Autopilot Inc.
Looks pretty good but have no personal experience.
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

I have a RM X5 Smart pilot. I have no problems with it with one exception. During a crossing of the Straigt of Juan De Fuca in Jun 2012, in heavy winds and five foot waves, I experienced a motor stall error - in other words the conditions were too much for the wheel pilot. That said, otherwise the unit has performed flawlessly and I'm glad I have it.

Question is would I use it offshore? Hum, I think I'd save the money and get a below deck pilot. Just my opinion. Other opinions - well chime in here and lets find out.

Last edited by jeffgerritsen; 08-27-2012 at 02:44 AM.
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-26-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffgerritsen View Post
I have a RM X5 Smart pilot. I have no problems with it with one exception. During a crossing of the Straigt of Juan De Fuca in Jun 2012, in heavy winds and five foot waves, I experienced a motor stall error - in other words the conditions were too much for the wheel pilot. That said the unit has performed flawlessly and I glad I have it.

Question is would I use it offshore? Hum, I thing I would save the money and get a below deck pilot. Just my opinion. Other opinions - well chime in here and lets find out.
Thanks for that feedback. This is the one worry I have for buying this as my "backup" system. If the main on fails offshore (where it gets the most continuous use) the backup might not be up to the task at hand at all.

I shall look into the other suggestions. Thanks for those.

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post #6 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

Soggypaws a heavy 44 ft sloop on a circumnavigation uses a CPT as primary.
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
I asked a similer question a few days ago and someone responded with this option:
CPT Autopilot Inc.
Looks pretty good but have no personal experience.
I have used the CPT wheel pilot for 11 years. It is a robust little unit and very simple in design. It uses a Bosch windshield wiper motor for the drive wheel.

The CPT is used mostly when motoring and for light down wind sailing.

My primary autopilot is a Monitor Wind vane.

As with any of these steering devices, balancing the boat with an appropriate amount of sail is key. I believe most autopilot failures are due to overworking the units with too much main sail up, making the boat constantly trying to round up.

For the OP, get a good Windvane steering system for your offshore voyage, either a Monitor or Aries would be my choice if I had to do it again....

The Monitor windvane is and has been my most reliable piece of "boat jewelry" and is better then most seasoned crew in steering for long periods of time.
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffgerritsen View Post
I have a RM X5 Smart pilot. I have no problems with it with one exception. During a crossing of the Straigt of Juan De Fuca in Jun 2012, in heavy winds and five foot waves, I experienced a motor stall error - in other words the conditions were too much for the wheel pilot. That said the unit has performed flawlessly and I glad I have it.

Question is would I use it offshore? Hum, I thing I would save the money and get a below deck pilot. Just my opinion. Other opinions - well chime in here and lets find out.
A PNW made below decks autopilot is made by ALPHA. Good offshore history with some of my friends....


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post #9 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

My old robertson died two years ago, so last year we replaced the whole thing with a new simrad. Cost us 2200 all up, and our boat is same displacement as yours.
I suspect you have hydralic steering, if thats the case a wheel drive is not a great idea.
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-26-2012
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Re: Is a wheelpilot a good option for me?

This brand is out of Holland, expensive but might have what you need
Jefa rudder and steering systems

Reality is, if self steering is made for an aircraft carrier, one can be found for your boat. ust a question of how much are you willing to spend, and for what quality etc.

marty

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