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Old 11-03-2016, 17:05   #16
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

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Originally Posted by Schooner Chandlery View Post
You're not paranoid--if the autopilot is engaged you want to stay away from getting an arm broken. Yep. It was one of the first things I was advised by the manufacturer of our autopilot. I wouldn't be designing a declutching hub, I'd just be careful and have all aboard be careful.

You don't want to remove the wheel--you want to be able to very quickly resume manual steering if you need to.
Wot 'e sed! +1
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Old 11-03-2016, 17:24   #17
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

We try to keep the "non-boaty" people from touching things. Well, actually, we just keep the non-boaty people off the boat. Period. They get seasick, they break things on the boat, they get hurt and they typically don't have much of a good time. If they want to go sailing and ask us to do so we're much more likely to try to get them out dinghy sailing rather than on our cruising boat. Better for us and better for them.

For years and years we would take people out sailing (on 20 to 30 ft boats we'd rent) and while my husband and I were enjoying it we did notice that the others along were often seasick or just not into the experience. Same goes for children. They do well with short trips on little boats--essentially dingy sailing -- we used to rent a Rebel and later a Capri to take a couple kids of friends out sailing. Close to the water and never far from a beach or dock. A lot of fun for kids.

I digress there...

Keep your wheel, get used to the AP. We tend to sit away from the wheel but close enough to disengage the AP and take the helm if we wanted or needed to. Typical scene, my husband tending the wheel--from a safe distance!



Here's a recent post I made with a several hour long timelapse video. See the AP is steering most the time although occasionally you'll see me or my husband at the wheel for a bit. A day in the life...time lapse videos - Sailing Mahdee
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Old 11-03-2016, 17:35   #18
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

I have a big wheel. The PO installed a CPT autopilot with the compass/control on the pedestal low on the port side. I have to reach through the wheel to set/adjust the AP heading. It freaks me out to do this. I can't see the setting on it very well in good light. My arm is in danger of being caught every time I change course which has dramatically lowered my enthusiasm for the CPT.

So, I plan on adding a hydraulic AP as my next big upgrade and the CPT will be the backup. I am much more concerned about getting my arm caught with the CPT than the hydraulic.

I would never recommend taking the wheel off, especially if the key might fall out of the keyway like mine does when I remove the wheel. And I would not do it if that was not an issue.
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Old 11-03-2016, 17:45   #19
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

On my Cat with Hydraulic AP I used an Alpha Pilot disengage arm assembly. It' a lever arm that disconnects allowing free rudder rotation of the rudder shaft. Cable disconnect. I didn't want my Hydraulic ram being worked contstantly.
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Old 11-03-2016, 23:39   #20
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

Is your boat so hard to steer that it needs those sorts of forces from the autopilot.


They have things called relief valves which are placed in hydraulic circuits to limit pressures and the resulting forces.
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Old 12-03-2016, 08:42   #21
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

We taught our daughter from toddler on to never reach through the wheel - even when hand steering the motions are almost impossible instinctive - i once caught her arm with a spoke while looking right at it - the boat slewed and i corrected. Left a bit of a bruise, nothing serious and she has kept away from the wheel since (actually same thing happened with my wife, same result ).

I would not want to have a disconnect on the wheels, if that ever messed up you'd have no steering- and Murphy says it would happen at the most exciting time. When the wheels keep twitching on their own, even guests figure out to keep clear fairly quickly.
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Old 12-03-2016, 08:59   #22
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

If you add a new clutch, it will be a now potential point of failure. Something could go wrong with it. I propose to consider also the benefits of keeping the system simple and avoiding too complex solutions.
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Old 12-03-2016, 09:47   #23
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Edson makes a very pricey wheel hub with a knurled knob.

Please, do NOT consider it.

We have the standard Edson wheel nut. If you grease the threads on the shaft, that nut will be very easy to remove anytime you want or need to do so.

I greased mine 18 years ago when I first bought the boat and it still moves easily all these years later with no further grease.
YUP. Same here, however, when the AP goes berserk, you will wish the wheel was ready and in place. On our boat, we are ready to hand steer any moment. I would never operate otherwise. Consider explaining to the CG or your agent that the wheel was hanging on the rail when the accident happened.
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Old 12-03-2016, 12:24   #24
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

My only experience with a de-clutching wheel was with a Furuno auto pilot system installed on the 70' Sun Reef Cat. A little disconcerting for a second or two if you forgot that the autopilot was engaged and you attempted to steer with a free-wheeling wheel.
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Old 12-03-2016, 21:00   #25
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

Thanks folks, interesting discussion.

I didn't know that alpha had a disconnect like that. interesting -thanks for that bit of education! but, it's the reverse of what I'd need, were I to put something in like that. I am discussing the disconnection of the cable steering system (or maybe just the wheel) while on autopilot. the alpha system disconnects the autopilot ram while manually steering.

No, the boat isn't particularly hard to steer - I don't really ever need to put more than 10-15 lbs on the wheel rim, and that's in strong conditions. Those forces are just maximum outputs from the autopilot ram, which would never be needed in any conditions I can imagine - except if someone or something were preventing the rudder from turning. In which case, the system will naturally go to its maximum output to try and achieve what it's designed to do. If that happened to be a leg or other bone, it will be in rough shape afterwards!

really I think the best approach here is to try it out first, no clutch and no custom designed stuff (even though the engineer in me really wants to build this); and see how it goes. if it's a problem, then I know what I'll be building next winter. if it's not, then I'll move on to the next challenge...

thanks again for the discussion.
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Old 12-03-2016, 21:31   #26
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

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Old 13-03-2016, 00:21   #27
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

The simplest solution would be to fit a wheel which would not allow arms, legs, hands, feet, toes, fingers or heads through so that there are no jam points?
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Old 13-03-2016, 03:01   #28
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

I have the solution at the far bottom of this page

Jefa Steering Systems

Although expensive it works very nice and the added value is that is saves AP power and wear and tear on the AP drive system.
As there is a grab rail on the pedestal we have enough points for support so the free spinning wheel is not a problem.

As said it is quite expensive but we bought it as part of a tiller to wheel conversion so it was not too bad for us.
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Old 13-03-2016, 04:29   #29
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

I guess it's just one of those things you learn by experience... Although your concern of inexperienced helmsmen has merit...

Seems like Neil has a somewhat decent idea below... Although the typical pedestal cover would seem to not work, but a cover on the wheel only???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Time2Go View Post
Very first thing I learned when dealing with AP equipped boats
was Never Ever stick my hands through the wheel.
A quick and easy solution is to leave the wheel cover on when on AP
It will turn with the wheel, prevent arms and fingers between the spokes,
And can be quickly and easily removed.
In an emergency you could grip right thru it, also.
Cheers
Neil
If you're that worried about it, what about a slip ring/pin solution? Something similar to a pinned track/car interface... Screwed out, but spring tensioned in to find the mating hole in a hub???
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Old 13-03-2016, 15:17   #30
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Re: Wheel de-clutch during autopilot operation?

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The simplest solution would be to fit a wheel which would not allow arms, legs, hands, feet, toes, fingers or heads through so that there are no jam points?
Are you serious?
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