Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 25 Old 06-18-2016 Thread Starter
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Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

My autopilot just went out - Raymarine ST4000+ wheel pilot with black wheel ring. Setting the clutch engages the wheel (can't turn manually with it engaged), like it should. And when I hit "auto" and +10 I can hear the motor whirring to turn right, but the wheel does not move. It keeps whirring every few seconds because the boat's not turning, as you would expect it to.

AP worked perfectly for survey this week, and worked for a couple hours this morning. Then it lost ability to turn left, but would turn right. A minute or so later it lost ability to turn either way. Obviously we're hand steering until we finish delivery to our new home port.

I suspect that there's a wheel, gear, or belt loose inside the wheel ring, and just needs tightening up. But it's puzzling that the clutch still grabs the wheel so well.

I'm just looking for some advice how to take it apart, and what to look for once inside.

I have the same autopilot on my other boat, but a lighter duty (gray) wheel ring mechanism for a smaller boat. But I've never had to open it up and look inside, so this is new territory for me.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
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post #2 of 25 Old 06-18-2016
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

silly question... is the wheel locked? so many times we forget it

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post #3 of 25 Old 06-18-2016
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

Both versions come apart by separating the two halves by hand at the groove between them, half stays with the wheel which you removed prior to splitting the drive. There is a cogged poly belt that sometimes shreds or strips teeth, btw the gray drive units are actually the newer MarkII version, you might consider switching them before selling the other boat. There is a one inch difference in the circumference of the units which may require some changes to the mounting position.
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post #4 of 25 Old 06-18-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

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Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
silly question... is the wheel locked? so many times we forget it
Not locked. I had checked that.

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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

As described above, yank it apart.
The problem will probably be obvious.
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
As described above, yank it apart.
The problem will probably be obvious.
Will do later today.

What are the advantages of the gray Mark two version versus the black original version? And how much do I need to replace if I swap out?

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post #7 of 25 Old 06-19-2016
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

The grey unit should be plug and play (unless something has changed). It's not that much of an upgrade, same basic principal, same cheap plastic construction. However, new cheap construction is probably better than trying to find used online or dumping $$ repairing cheap construction that is 20 years old.

The motor has a small gear on the shaft. I would start by unscrewing the motor from the drive ring. If the drive belt is engaging and you can't move the wheel then the belt is probably good. There is a small 'gear box' located were the motor is inserted, that is the second place I would look.

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post #8 of 25 Old 06-19-2016
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

The pin or post that mounts to the pedestal and locks the motor half from turning must be moved up less than an inch, sometimes just flipping it over and reusing same screw holes works because it's offset slightly.
On Catalinas with an engine panel in a pod on the pedestal sometimes the motor on the gray unit will hit/interfere with stop handle, key or pod when mounted in the "preferred" position with the motor located in the lower starboard quadrant of the wheel. It is sometimes required to use the "alternate" mounting postion provided for by RM by rotating the drive 180 degrees so the motor is in the upper port quadrant of the wheel, which feels a little backward when you operate the clutch until you get used to it.
Sometimes neither position clears and you create a new mounting location by drilling a new hole in the motor plate of the drive to locate that post.
FWIW at it's introduction the gray unit was supposed to have a little more torque, beats me, my primary drive is a black one labeled Autohelm from '95 with a new belt, back-up is also black one labeled Raymarine from '02. I sold my old boat with a new gray unit and bought a boat with an older one. Can't justify a new one until I break a couple old ones.
Also are you aware of the "Catalina Cocktail" ? That's a recommended list of settings for a RM wheel pilot to compensate for the limited number of turns lock-to-lock on Catalinas.

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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

I took the motor off - gear looks fine. I did not separate the rings - I'm taking it home to disassemble.

When I re-tested it, it looks like there's a very thin metal cable (1/16") that has a little slack, and is trying to slip through the slit between the two rings when the motor actuates. Does that give any clues to the problem?

I'll provide more info when I get home. Right now I'm just too hot.

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post #10 of 25 Old 06-21-2016
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Re: Need help diagnosing Raymarine ST4000+ Autopilot

Carefully check the belt. There could be a worn spot that is hard to see. I have 15 seasons on an ST4000 and am on the 4th belt. I'm amazed how long it's lasted.

It's just about perfect for our coastal sailing.

Tom Young sailing a 1961 38' Alden Challenger, CHRISTMAS out of
Rockport, Maine.
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