Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-08-2014 Thread Starter
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Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

Hmm...someone obsesses. But hey. This is big for me.

Who her has experience with tiller pilots. I have to have self steering. I probably shouldn't splurge on a vane just now.

Boat displaces 9000. With cruising gear and self, dinghy and outboard. Closer to ten? When sailboat data gives a vessels displacement is that with the original engine? If so I might have saved a little with the Beta over the old Volvo.

So the options I know of are the raymarine and Simrad ones for around $600. Like the tp and st series. I have a new st2000+ head. So the easiest and cheapest solution would be to buy a second st2000+ kit. Then I would have the mounting kit and two heads for redundancy. I love redundancy.

But this unit is only rated to 10000lbs. Which is right at my weight. How do they rate these things? I would think if you want it to last and not burn up then go a size up. But the next size I know of is a huge leap, and that is getting into the raymarine ev-100. That's a $1600 deal. It looks more feature rich.

Are there any other options? Assuming I can balance my full keeled boat well. What do you recommend? I expect high winds and moderate seas often. What would you do for realizable self steering?

Are the newer one like the EV series worth it? What does the rudder compensation and all those extra things do?

I would like in the future to have an N2K system. With a wind transducer, raymarine touch plotter, AIS, Fusion stereo and autopilot as the base of my electronics suite. So while I need to be as frugal as possible now, I would like a system I can integrate in the future.

But if the st2000 is strong enough I would like that, it doesn't have N2K, but 0183 and you can integrate that to the Raymarine plotter.
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-08-2014
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

I have bad news and worse news.

The bad news. Never buy a tiller pilot that is underspcced. Always go up a size. IMHO the ST 2000 is underspec.

Now the worse news. They are hopelessly unreliable long term. If you are going to rely on one, take spares. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO GET WET. Tape a poly bag over them. Webb Chiles took half a dozen with him and has already killed several.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-08-2014
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

The EV is the right one for your boat. It is also going to be a lot more durable, all of the electronics are inside the boat and only the drive unit itself is subjected to weather. You can buy a backup one of those by itself.

The X5 and EV have much improved electronics compared to the ST tiller pilots and are a lot more responsive when sailing in tough conditions. They are overpriced for what they are, but I would also trust them more than the ST on a boat like yours.

Installation will be more difficult than a ST tiller pilot, but you'll learn a lot about installing electronics in the process.
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

Everything I've read suggests that people tend to significantly under-estimate the all-up weight of their boats, which means that if the tiller pilot rating is marginal you'll have to go up a size.

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post #5 of 16 Old 09-08-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

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post #6 of 16 Old 09-08-2014
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

There are a lot of factors to consider and the manufactures cannot properly explain the engineering, so they simplify the solution to just specify the weight of the boat. If you look into details, there's more than that.

Tiller pilots are limited in their power, which in the truest engineering sense is a product of force and speed (power = speed x force). The manner in which you mount the tiller pilot determines your trade off for force versus speed. Mount it close to the hinge point (pinion) and you will get a lot of speed in the turning action. Mount it far from the pinion and you'll get a lot of force.

Fin keel boats with spade rudders are flighty and don't like going in a straight line. The pilot will have to do a lot of work and fast response is going to be helpful.

Balanced rudders have little feedback and need little force for steering. Unbalanced rudders (ie: barn door type) take lots of force.

Your best chance for using a tiller pilot with success will be a semi-full keel boat with a balanced rudder. Given that configuration a tiller pilot might actually be able to exceed it's rating, like an 8000 lb rated pilot can steer a 12000 lb boat. A boat that does not like to self steer, like a flat bottom fin keel boat, will need to have an oversized pilot. For example, use an 8000 lb rated pilot on a 5000 lb boat.

Remember also it's not a simple pass/fail thing. The more power the pilot has the more difficult conditions it can handle. I put a 20,000 lb rated pilot on my 15,000 lb boat and it can steer downwind with a quartering wave in 5' seas with 20 knots of wind. The original wheel style pilot would work in easy conditions but never in difficult seas and downwind.

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post #7 of 16 Old 09-08-2014
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

Simrad has a self contained unit that is rated to 12,600 lbs (TP32)
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-08-2014
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

We have the ST1000 Raetheon/Raymarine on our Catalina 27. About 8,000 lbs. Works great - love it. BUT, the comments above about being NON-water proof are "dead on accurate." It isn't waterproof for anything but a light drizzle.

We ended up making a clear sleeve out of the isinglass (sp?) and that solved the problem.

If yours DOES get wet and quits working, you can open the case and place it in the warm (dry) sunshine for a couple of days. Every time ours got wet and quit working, we were always successful in drying it out and re-starting.
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

It's really not the displacement that counts, but how well your sailboat balances under all conditions. I used a Simrad TP10 on my Cheoylee 31 ketch, for several thousand miles of cruising, without any problems. It worked well, even when sailing the Gulfstream with a following wind. The key, is to balance your sails until the tiller can be easily handled with two fingers. My Cheoylee ketch could almost sail it'self, with the right combination of sails.

If your sailboat won't balance easily; you'll need a bigger tiller pilot or a different boat.
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Re: Last one for tonight. Tiller pilots

Quote:
Originally Posted by bratzcpa View Post
We have the ST1000 Raetheon/Raymarine on our Catalina 27. About 8,000 lbs. Works great - love it. BUT, the comments above about being NON-water proof are "dead on accurate." It isn't waterproof for anything but a light drizzle.

We ended up making a clear sleeve out of the isinglass (sp?) and that solved the problem.

If yours DOES get wet and quits working, you can open the case and place it in the warm (dry) sunshine for a couple of days. Every time ours got wet and quit working, we were always successful in drying it out and re-starting.
Same boat and autopilot and agree completely. I am actually surprised at how well it handles most conditions because I think the ST1000 is undersized based on fully loaded cruising weight.
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