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I just returned from a single handed trip to the Bahamas (from Baltimore MD). I have had problems with my 3 year old Raymarine EV-1 autopilot for the last 2 years and several times almost damaged the boat because of it. I'm writing this to describe what I've finally done to fix the problem. Right up front, I'll state I AM a fan of Raymarine autopilots. The EV-1 is my second autopilot and they are wonderful devices. However, I do consider the problem I'll describe below a design problem that they should own up to.

First, the problem. The autopilot clutch disengages without warning. This usually happens when I'm in a following sea when the pilot is making more significant steering changes to stay on course (when the boat is yawing). The clutch lever will tighten when the wheel turns to starboard and will loosen when the wheel turn to port. It will sometimes make several small turns back and forth (disengaging a little at a time) or one large turn to fully disengage. I have lost my steering on numerous occasions, sometimes jibing (I know, I should have had a jibe preventer rigged).

Another issue I've had is the wheel squeaking every time it changes direction. This has been very annoying and I've concluded is another symptom of the same (disengaging) problem.

During my trip, I called Raymarine and spoke with their expert, Lee. He was helpful and sent me photos. However, all his advice was related to cleanliness and belt tentioning of the wheel unit. As it turns out, that was not the problem.

I spent hours disassembling and adjusting the belt tension. I believed (and still believe) that the belt is too small in diameter. With the adjustment completely detentioned, the belt was too tight.

This last week, I removed the wheel pilot and brought it home. I completely disassembled the unit - removed the two eccentric wheels (one for the clutch lever and one for the belt tension adjustment), and the belt. It did not appear that anything was out of adjustment or broken. I called Lee again. I sent him a photo showing the correct position of the nylon plate for the fully detentioned belt adjustment. After looking at my photo, he called me back and I insisted that the belt was either too small or something needed lubrication. It was only after that that he suggested I remove the black rubber belts from the nylon eccentric wheels and apply some lubrication to the INSIDE of the belts.

After I did this, I took the unit back to the boat, installed it, and went for a sea trial. For the first time in two years, the unit does not squeak, it is much easier to manually engage, and it stays engaged with both small and large course changes.

My recommendation to Raymarine would be to remove the instructions about flushing the unit with fresh water after every use (do they really think anyone would do this?) and to add instructions to lubricate the outside of the nylon eccentrics/inside of the eccentric belts. Lee recommended using only a small amount of lubricant and to NOT lubricate either side of the large drive belt. I'd also recommend they give this advice to every one of their technical advisers.

Note: the attached photo shows the plate at the base of the nylon eccentric for belt adjustment against the pin of the housing. This is the correct position for minimum belt tension.
 

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Hey,

Thanks for this. I have the same problem. I use a bungee cord to prevent the clutch from opening.

What lubricant did you use? I will try that.

Thanks,
Barry
 

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I too use a small bungee cord😄😄😄🌪🌪😠
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I had asked Lee what to use as a lubricant since it makes a difference with various types of rubber. He said it was not important. I used lanolin since it is organic. I'm confident that Raymarine would provide replacement belts if there were some type of degradation. But I'm certain that won't be a problem.

I too have used bungees or rubber bands to hold the lever in place. That has worked but seems a little like putting a brick on your gas peddle when your cruise control isn't working.
 

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I'm wandering how you can be a big fan of a product that failed after one year, probably the day after the warranty expired? It must work well really well when it is not automatically disengaging the clutch?
 

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I had asked Lee what to use as a lubricant since it makes a difference with various types of rubber. He said it was not important. I used lanolin since it is organic. I'm confident that Raymarine would provide replacement belts if there were some type of degradation. But I'm certain that won't be a problem.

I too have used bungees or rubber bands to hold the lever in place. That has worked but seems a little like putting a brick on your gas peddle when your cruise control isn't working.
Not really an appropriate analogy IMHO as a brick on a cruise control is a safety issue.

I am curious as to why you are so CERTAIN that Raymarine would supply replacement parts if there were degeadation. Also why because it is ok just because it is organic why it won't gunk up the area. I would think something like McLube a dry product might be better.

I will call Raymarine to ask about this. I like youre attempt at a solution.
Congrats on finding a solution for you
 

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I have an older X-5 wheelpilot that does the same thing....gonna take it apart and see if this fix might also work on it.
 

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Thanks for the writeup. We have had similar issues with ours. It first cropped up after trailering our boat through some thunderstorms, so I figured it might have picked up some road grime inside. We found at least a short term solution by squirting some dish detergent through the holes in the rear of the wheel pilot trim and following up with water from a pressurized water bottle. That and a slight adjustment to the tension took care of the issues for the rest of the season. I may follow up with your disassembly and lubrication tips as it's starting to get a little noisy again this year.
 

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In case anyone is sill following I just wanted to say I had same issue with Raymarine auto pilot squeaking and disengaging. Tried the approach above with lubricating two small black belts and found the results amazing. Major props to Harbin2 and many thanks for the helpful post.
 

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In case anyone is sill following I just wanted to say I had same issue with Raymarine auto pilot squeaking and disengaging. Tried the approach above with lubricating two small black belts and found the results amazing. Major props to Harbin2 and many thanks for the helpful post.
What kind of product did you use?

My first assumption would be to use a silicone based lubricant. I use it anytime I'm un-sure of what the part I'm lubricating is made of. For example petroleum based lubricants will eat away at rubber parts because rubber parts are often made of petroleum products. Silicone will only harm other silicone parts.

I just installed my EV100 last week and tested it on the weekend. The unit works amazing. However, we are departing for a 1 year cruise and I want to have some fixes lined up in my pocket in case mine starts acting up.
 

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I used super lube synthetic grease...just a bit on each small belt...taking care to not get it anywhere else.
So far so good.
 

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I had a similar problem and fixed it by tightening the small screw on the lever itself. It's possibly an Allen screw.
 
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