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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am interested in any feedback on the Scanmar CPT Autopilot. I have a 35 ft Young Son Cutter, weighing 11 tons. I will consider other Autopilots in the $1,500-3,000 range.
 

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GG:

I know your boat and am currently cruising with a CPT aboard a Pearson 424 Ketch of comparable displacement (tho'' with an extended fin & skeg hung rudder vs. your full keel).

CPT a/p''s do NOT use lots of amps; quite the opposite, in fact. We estimate perhaps 3 amp/hrs. Of course, this is immeasureably dependent on how the boat is trimmed & how responsive your boat is. CPT''s (when marketed by Charles Pukit in Ft. Lauderdale, and earlier by the inventor out in CA) have been used on far larger boats than ours, sometimes by delivery skippers who choose it because its powerful yet portable, and there''s no reason I know why it couldn''t handle your boat.

Having said that, here are a few things to mull...
1. It has no digital electronics (it''s an old tho'' reliable design) and so course corrections are delivered in ''jerks'' since it uses relays. Adjusting belt tension helps slightly with this, but its bothersome until you decide you will NOT be bothered by it! <g>
2. More concerning is the fact that, at modest amounts of weather helm, I''m finding the motor releases tension in one direction (but not the other), allowing the wheel to ''slip'' back from the position the a/p puts it in when on a port tack. It''s performing improperly, the Scanmar ''product manager'' (Keith) explained it was due to the Bosch motor needing to be replaced, then he was fired(!), and right now our unit is sitting on their test bench awaiting testing. Whether the problem is inherent in the design or due to a faulty unit, I don''t yet know. Were I considering the purchase of one, I''d talk with Gillian at Scanmar & explain that you''ve heard that a *very* few of these have disappointed owners due to ''slip'' and you want to be able to do a full install and then return it for a full refund if not satisfied. I think they''re understaffed re: technical capability but want to treat customers right and would readily agree to this.
3. Having said the above, this unit has been a HUGE help to us as we sailed and motored S & E from Florida to Trinidad. Despite its shortcomings, we''ve found it easy to live with (unlike the junk Navico product we''d previously tried to use) and perhaps the best gear choice after our Force 10 stove!

Let me know if you want more info; I''m calling tomorrow (Tues) a.m. to find out if I must accept an underperforming unit back, or am having a malfunctioning unit repaired.

Jack
 

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Walt & the Group:

"3 x 24 = 72 ah per day = 100 plus back in battery to charge. Thats a lot of amps!"

And half as much as a below-decks unit. Still, I probably would feel it was a lot of amps if I used it continuously in 24-hr chunks, all under sail. Fortunately and not by coincidence, we have a windvane and find the a/p is used more often when motoring.

Jack

Jack
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Jack,

Thanks so much for the helpful info. I would be very interested to know what is the update on your unit. Keep me posted.

Lisa and Neil Coleman
 

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Lisa & Neil:

As of last night (6/13) the unit had not been looked at in the last 7-10 days.

SCANMAR''s niche is windvanes and they were clever (in a biz sense, at least) to pick up the CPT because so many of there customers, laying out $3-5K for a vane, mount, spares, etc., are pleading for a "motoring only" a/p (meaning one that doesn''t have to handle the boat in really stiff winds, high seas, etc.). Of course, folks find they often want to use an a/p in a wider set of conditions than they expect, windvane of not, os whatever is installed has to really be up to the challenge.

The CPT was originally invented in Orinda, CA (near the SF Bay area) quite some time ago. IMO it truly is a unique offering (unlike picking between Autohelm aka: Raytheon and Navico, now Simrad). The interim owner of the CPT biz would attend boat shows with his CPT operating gleefully while totally submerged; kinda clever and illustrating totally sealed circuit boards.

But the fly in the ointment appears to be the fact that SCANMAR didn''t beef up the bix to support the a/p segment they bought into; or at least that''s my tentative conclusion. It''s always frustrating when the biz owner can''t help you get his product working the way he represented it, so perhaps I should be less accepting. But the unit was a joy for us under most conditions (again, in part because we had a Sailomat vane to fall back on...) and so I want to allow them the time & patience to see just how much of a lemmon this thing is by design vs. due to a bad part or manufacturing defect (which can happen to anyone).

I''ll keep you posted...

Jack
 

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Lisa & Neil:

The final answer from Scanmar was that they had fired their ''CPT guy'', they didn''t know what my unit was not performing properly, they therefore couldn''t ''fix it'', and they were willing to refund my money. Because the unit as designed & built should not be weaker on one tack than the other (essentially, the problem we''ve been having), I asked them to replace the Control Box (motor drive unit), burn it in and then ship it out. They agreed altho'' we''re now working on when they can do this given the 4th holiday coming up.

They just aren''t up to speed on this product as with their windvanes, but we like it enough we''re willing to accept the hassles. Hopefully, the next unit will be a bit more capable. I would not expect them to change the motor (and with it, the fundamental problem that we and several other boats have experienced) anytime soon.

Jack
 

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I was intrigued by the CPT 2 model and bought a used one in December for $200, figuring that even w/repair it probably was a good deal. I sent it to Scanmar and their CPT guy said the unit was toast and would take about a grand to fix. I balked and they sent it back.

Then I bought another used one and purchased some of the parts from Scanmar...pretty pricey, but I was willing to pay double for belts, etc. in the interest of supporting what seems to be a customer friendly business. I still have not hooked it up. I am having trouble with the J bolts, which hook on the wheel - they keep hitting my transmission lever. I tried Scanmar for assistance, but they were not helpful. My guess was that I am perceived as a low rent customer (IMO).

I did quite a bit of rersearch prior to the purchase and the units seem quite good. I agree with the business assessment made in the prior posts. Keith (their CPT guy) was a bit of a wise ass, and I did not get a warm and fuzzy feeling dealing with him.
 

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J:

Perhaps you will have picked this up from my previous post, but Keith is no longer with Scanmar and the general observation I think is valid (independent of the ''he said/she said'' of why he left/was fired) is that you can''t go by what Keith told you. Regretably, I have not found another person there who truly understands the CPT product, and Gillian (their Gen''l Mgr) would no doubt agree with that. I think they purchased the CPT product from Charles Pukit in Ft. Lauderdale with the simplistic notion that a) it was a simple product that had been poorly managed and therefore had some upside potential, and b) it fit a nice niche in their biz. Only now are they finding the real level of tech support & service necessary to rep the product properly. Probably a good business case for a Small Biz class...

A couple of suggestions for you:
1. Clearly, the actual install on your pedestal is your issue and it isn''t realistic to expect Scanmar to sort that out for you. I understand your problem as the CPT wheel mounting fasteners comes close to and occsionally can foul my shift lever when in reverse, also. Your options are to grind down the J bolts and/or anything else that conflicts with the shift lever, the shift lever itself, or to move the wheel aft on its shaft a bit. This latter step should be easy to do, as you probably have a split ring serving to keep the wheel from moving further forward on the shaft (and the nut holding it from moving aft), and you could install a spacer aft of the split ring after removing the wheel. Take a close look at your wheel arrangement (Edson?) to see what I''m describing.
2. You may find it easier/less expensive to get parts from Scanmar now than before. Since their ''product management'' slot for the CPT is gone, perhaps someone there would be willing to listen to your rationale for the prices of the parts you need being lower. My point is that you no doubt will have a fresh set of ears on that end...

Good luck!

Jack
 

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Jack,

I finally installed the unit by taking the transmission lever off for a few days to see if it was worth it to deal with grinding etc. The jury is stil out. I have a few questions.

The manual says wire the unit directly to the battery. Did you do this? What is the downside to not doing this? Could this explain some course deviation? (The manual says the unit is not ignition protected.)

Also, I still can''t figure out the rudder knob. It seems that even at the "1" setting, I am doing some large "S"''s. This makes it impossible to sail at a close point to the wind. Have you had a similar experience? Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Jack and JNorth,

Thanks for all your input. Spoke with a Scanmar rep yesterday and according to him, there are 2 guys working on the CPT. They also claim to stand behind their warranty with a full install and refund if the unit proves unsatisfactory under sea trial. Given all the info and options available, we are inclined to give it a try.

Delivery is delayed 4 weeks so we''ll keep you posted on our install and sea trials.

Thanks again,

Lisa and Neil/ Gypsy
 

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For Lisa & Neil...congrats on the decision & I surely hope you''re pleased. If you would like to chat some more after your initial install, feel free to email me at [email protected] (24/7 on the boat, which we''re going back to in a few days). Note the comment below on ''settings''; it took me a while to zero in on what works best for us.

JNorth, a couple of thoughts about your unit: First, we did not wire it directly to the battery nor have I found it necessary. They''re justifiably concerned about all those stray voltage spikes and maybe even rf from a SSB ruining the unit performance; thus, their instructions. I do think it is important that you properly fuse/breaker the individual power line to the unit, beyond any group breaker at the panel.

You mention S turns & a ''low'' setting on the Rudder knob - I realize it''s somewhat counter-intuitive but that''s part of your problem. The unit adjusts the wheel in small/bigger increments depending on the rudder setting. You set it low, the boat heads off, it incrementally, slowly is turning the wheel to correct, but in the interim the sail trim has changed and the boat''s being driven even further off course. You can''t overcome that simply by turning te deadband way down, as the unit is still not ''authorized'' by you to make larger course corrections.

FWIW we''ve found - and heard the same thing from KOTCHKA, another bluewater CPT user - that both settings need to be kept as low as possible but with enough authority to control the boat. We have a skeg-hung rudder (not semi-balanced) and still we find the CPT does best when the deadband setting is 1.5-2 (motoring) or a bit more when sailing, and the rudder setting is 2-3 (tho'' more is needed under more strenuous conditions...usually). Turn on the unit in the slip with the dock lines a little loose and, while someone''s pulling on one bow line and then the other, see if you can''t adjust the settings so the unit is responding properly. (No distractions with this. Stick with it and ''play'' a while, until you get a feel for heading change vs. settings chosen). Almost all our CPT use has been at-sea and, with the settings I mention above, we find a course is maintained in the 5-10 degree range, tho'' occasionally above that - not too bad given that we''re being pushed around some by the seaway.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions.

Jack
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Don''t know if anybody is still following this thread, but I would like to chime in and also hear more of what others have to say re:the CPT.
I have a Cape Dory 36 that displaces about 16,500lbs and have been working with the CPT for about a year. It is not the easiest unit to "tune" to your boat, but you can eventually get there. I will agree that it seems to be best to keep the settings low. I have found for me that what seems to work best is to keep the deadband at around 2 and the rudder at around 4 - this is for saling in moderate conditions. Since I have a windvane I tend to use it more often, but I still try and use the CPT cuz I want to get it figured out....I''m still trying. Even still, if I get a sudden gust or a swell pushes me around, the CPT doesn''t seem to be quick enough and then the boat gets unbalanced and the conditon worsens, etc. Like to hear others response to this.

There is an option I am considering and that is to replace the "control head" with a unit made by (I think) Technautics. Saw an article in Cruising World I think on this and it sounds like a possiblitiy. Anybody familiar with this? I has a gyro and fluxgate compass and a control head that should be able to drive the powerful motor on the CPT.

Any thoughts?

Pat
 
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