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I have a 32ft Ericson with a wheel steering and I am looking for a good used autopilot. This isn't my "forever" boat and I don't plan on keeping it more than a couple years so I don't want to invest a fortune in a new one. The boat currently has a Raymarine Autohelm 3000 which is non-functioning. I would like to replace it with something similar. I am not concerned if doesn't connect to a chartplotter/GPS or adjust automatically to changes in the wind or current. I don't need all the bells and whistles. I just want a simple and reliable autopilot that will hold a decent course. It will be mostly used while single handing if I need to mess with the sails or things like that. I will mostly be shopping ebay but if you know of another source for used marine electronics let me know. Thanks!
 

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I'd be weary of any used wheel pilot. The parts for them are getting slim and wheel pilots are devices that don't live the easiest life. Since the units usually include 3 or 4 major components (computer, fluxgate compass, control interface, and wheel motor) you have to trust that the old unit was properly removed and includes all parts to be useful.

For instance you'll probably come across the Raymarine/Autohelm ST4000, which is easy to find use. However almost no parts are available for it anymore, which is why they are easy to find used.

The Raymarine X5 (last generation) and Evo (this generation) wheel pilots work very well.
 

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because of that you can get a couple of them(st3000, 4000) for cheap and use till they bust

thats kind of my plan until I get my massive cetec benmar pilot working again.

cpt pilots can sometimes be found too, the older ones have some soldering issues that can be fixed...

I search ebay all the time for pilots and they sometimes can be had for a song...of course with electronics you buy as is...
 

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I would suggest a used Benmar pilot. They are old school and virtually bullet proof, and can be had very inexpensively at most used boat parts places. They don't have all the bells and whistles of the modern electronic units, and they do use a bit more power, but they are a great, reliable piece of equipment, and quite easy to install.
 
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because of that you can get a couple of them(st3000, 4000) for cheap and use till they bust
Except that the failures are generally in the same place over and over again. If one has all of it's parts in good condition it will sell quickly to someone who wants the parts (like the clutch lever which breaks easily).
 

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This guy on ebay does not list what he has (Raymarine), but he has all the help you will need fixing what you have and new parts and full systems. He is very professional and dependable. He was recommended by others here on SN and I highly recommend him. eBay Feedback Profile for kodiakjack99
 

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true but I guess the op wants something as a backup, or a backup of a backup...of course I could recomend get something new...or pricey but I didnt get that from the ops post

of course new is always good, but sometimes its either NOT needed or wanted

my vote is too for a cetec benmar autopilot based on those that use them, however it would require an installation below decks that even if simple is more than what the op wasked about

or get a new cpt(they are the budget wheel pilots of today however enjoy quite a nice reputation)

wiuthot assuming too much, it sounded like the op wants a similar wheel pilot to go in place of what he has now...meaning as simple a swap as possible
 

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ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the input. Looks like I have a few models to keep an eye out for. I think the st4000 would be great because from the looks of it I can reuse a lot of the mounting hardware for a simple install.
 

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Although our primary auto-pilot is a Robertson AP, as a back-up we have an inexpensive Ray-Marine ST2000 Tiller Pilot that attaches to the wheel. For this we have a bracket that attaches to the wheel hub and the rim. Approximately 2/3rds of the distance between the hub and the rim--roughly level with the top of the seats in the cockpit--is a pin that is free to rotate with a small transverse hole that will accept the pin from the tiller-pilot. The stock length of the push-rod on the Pilot is about 2' but you can purchase extensions, if necessary. This arrangement will give our wheel about a 1/4 turn in each direction which, for our boat, is more than enough to maintain a steady course under most conditions. The tiller pilot is entirely self contained and merely needs power and has more than enough thrust to handle our boat given the advantage of the wheel.

FWIW...
 

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Although our primary auto-pilot is a Robertson AP, as a back-up we have an inexpensive Ray-Marine ST2000 Tiller Pilot that attaches to the wheel. For this we have a bracket that attaches to the wheel hub and the rim. Approximately 2/3rds of the distance between the hub and the rim--roughly level with the top of the seats in the cockpit--is a pin that is free to rotate with a small transverse hole that will accept the pin from the tiller-pilot. The stock length of the push-rod on the Pilot is about 2' but you can purchase extensions, if necessary. This arrangement will give our wheel about a 1/4 turn in each direction which, for our boat, is more than enough to maintain a steady course under most conditions. The tiller pilot is entirely self contained and merely needs power and has more than enough thrust to handle our boat given the advantage of the wheel.

FWIW...
Thats a fantastic idea. Did you come up with it? does it have enough power to turn the wheel, and how does it do in following seas?
 

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Although our primary auto-pilot is a Robertson AP, as a back-up we have an inexpensive Ray-Marine ST2000 Tiller Pilot that attaches to the wheel. For this we have a bracket that attaches to the wheel hub and the rim. Approximately 2/3rds of the distance between the hub and the rim--roughly level with the top of the seats in the cockpit--is a pin that is free to rotate with a small transverse hole that will accept the pin from the tiller-pilot. The stock length of the push-rod on the Pilot is about 2' but you can purchase extensions, if necessary. This arrangement will give our wheel about a 1/4 turn in each direction which, for our boat, is more than enough to maintain a steady course under most conditions. The tiller pilot is entirely self contained and merely needs power and has more than enough thrust to handle our boat given the advantage of the wheel.

FWIW...
pics of your setup? what is lock to lock on your steering system turn wise?

thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #16
we have an inexpensive Ray-Marine ST2000 Tiller Pilot that attaches to the wheel.
That is a brilliant idea and would certainly work for my needs. Any chance you can upload some pictures? I am sure others would appreciate it as well.
 

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Thats a fantastic idea. Did you come up with it? does it have enough power to turn the wheel, and how does it do in following seas?
It's not my idea. The design originated in the late 1960's. We used the bracket with an earlier version of the TillerPilot on our former yacht for 20+ years but the new owner didn't want it, opting instead for a more elaborate system (which I understand he now regrets). With properly balanced sails, the system is quite effective regardless of the point of sail. Like most AP's ones course wavers a few degrees +/-. On the newer TillerPilots there is a "learn" mode that allows the Pilot to "learn" the rhythm of the yacht's track through the sea, and a "Gain" control, so that the Pilot isn't unnecessarily correcting the course and needlessly working the rudder. There is also a wind vane adapter that will allow the Pilot to keep track relative to the apparent wind using a small vane attached to one's stern rail although we don't have one.

FWIW...

PS: I don't happen to have any photos but the following is a snap from Dawn Trader's page"



The only difference with ours is that our bracket attaches between the hub and the rim, vertically when the rudder is centered; and, our Pilot fits between the edge of the seat and the bracket.
 
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It's not my idea. The design originated in the late 1960's. We used the bracket with an earlier version of the TillerPilot on our former yacht for 20+ years but the new owner didn't want it, opting instead for a more elaborate system (which I understand he now regrets). With properly balanced sails, the system is quite effective regardless of the point of sail. Like most AP's ones course wavers a few degrees +/-. On the newer TillerPilots there is a "learn" mode that allows the Pilot to "learn" the rhythm of the yacht's track through the sea, and a "Gain" control, so that the Pilot isn't unnecessarily correcting the course and needlessly working the rudder. There is also a wind vane adapter that will allow the Pilot to keep track relative to the apparent wind using a small vane attached to one's stern rail although we don't have one.

FWIW...
Wow. Thats quite awesome. Would make a great spare AP to keep safe in case of lightning strike, or primary AP failure, will look into the windvane thing. The sad part is, I had a chance to buy one of these brand new for $100, I passed it up because I do not have a tiller.

We would all love to see photos, but I doubt it will look much different then what we picture in our heads. Does it plug into a cigarette lighter? where is the compass located?
 

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good stuff, but again what is lock to lock on youre steering system?

I think this is great for quick turn wheel systems say, 1.5 to 2 turns.

Mine is 1.75 turns...

thanks again hylyte
 
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