Care and feeding of a Benmar 14B Autopilot - SailNet Community
 
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post #1 of 4 Old 02-06-2020 Thread Starter
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Care and feeding of a Benmar 14B Autopilot

Does anyone have practical experience with an original (1972 vintage) Benmar Autopilot?
Having just purchased a one owner Columbia 45 we find that it has many arguably obsolete electronics and systems. The Benmar appears intact and has an original manual dated March 1972.
Though we have not used it in open water, it powers up and seems to be connected with controls in the nav station and cockpit.
They seem to have been used on power boats primarily and would likely function well when running the Perkins 4236.
The boat has 4 group 31 batteries in two banks so I'm wondering how the draw would be under sail?
Any experienced hands' knowledge would be appreciated. Obviously GPS would confirm the course keeping capability.
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-06-2020
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Re: Care and feeding of a Benmar 14B Autopilot

Wouldn't the 'original manual dated March 1972.' have that information in it?

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #3 of 4 Old 02-07-2020 Thread Starter
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Re: Care and feeding of a Benmar 14B Autopilot

Thanks for the response.

Yes, it has a table of amperage draw under power and sail but I was asking for anyone's personal experience concerning the performance in actual use.
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Re: Care and feeding of a Benmar 14B Autopilot

It's a pretty bullet proof system. A series of graduated transparent panes that get lighter (or darker, I don't remember) the farther from course it gets. As the compass rotates, the light passes through and more power goes to the motor to return the boat to course. Not like the new intuitive APs with all kinds of adjustments, but probably more dependable as it's a lot simpler.
If it's working, I'd just keep it clean and lubed and hope it lasts another half century. Maybe renew the electrical connections and wires, too, just on general purposes. Of course there's always, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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