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Old 18-09-2015, 00:07   #1
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Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Feeling kinda cheap after fixing up my boat this summer. Iím installing an aries windvane this week on my wheel steered boat. I donít have a wheel drum (wheel adapter) and would like to try making my own. One forum member, Olaf Hart, posted this:

ďIf you are making a wheel drum, it can be fixed to the wheel if you have a quick way of slacking off the rope tension.
I ran the rope through a double block on a tail to a cam cleat, you adjust the tension on the drum by pressure on the tail.Ē

This seems like a great solution and I will probably use it, but I have two single blocks ready to use. My less elegant idea is: connecting the steering lines from the vane to a length of chain on the ends of each steering line from the drum. They could be quickly connected/disconnected and loosened/tightened (maybe?) with a hook or clasp. The drum would be cut and glued from wood, epoxied, and clamped to the wheel and there would be several wraps of line with a short section of chain always on the drum.
Is this clear?? (:
Are there any other designs out there? What diameter should the drum be?
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Old 18-09-2015, 02:28   #2
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

You may be able to fabricate a drum by cutting circles out of some cheap nylon cutting boards, and bolting them together.

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Old 18-09-2015, 03:17   #3
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Another benefit of a home made one is that you can get the diameter of the drum just right, to get the best ratio for your system.

I've considered making an adjustable wheel adapter with 6 or so shaped blocks that can be slid in and out to adjust the diameter of the drum.

They could be attached direct to the spokes, or to a plywood drum that's then clamped to the wheel.

Getting the right relationship between pendulum movement and rudder movement is a big problem with many servo pendulum to wheel systems because it varies with different boats. This is part of the reason it can be so hard getting a servo pendulum system to work well with a wheel. Much easier to get this spot on with a tiller.

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Old 18-09-2015, 08:49   #4
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

I have worked my monitor windvane on both a simple bicycle wheel and the monitor wheel adapter, so maybe I can be of some help. I first went supercheap and welded a few small pieces of steel to my childs steel rim, attached it to the wheel and used it as a adapter. It worked, but getting the tension right and the wheel right with the windvane was a challenge. I got rid of it because my dockmates made fun of the rust,(I welded regular steel) but it was functional. Then I went through various plastic solutions, none of which worked because the plastic would flex too much.
Finally, while cruising I had the monitor people ship me their adapter. Works much better! That said, if you have access to one you could copy it varly easy in a machine shop, it is not rocket science. I plan on making one as a backup when I have the time.
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Old 18-09-2015, 09:40   #5
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Boy, the Aries wheel adapter is just about the nicest piece, to bad you don't have one. How about making one from hard wood disks, bearings etc. just like the Arires? Instead of the great lever , a peg or a pin like a Monitor?
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Old 18-09-2015, 09:44   #6
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

We made it around the world with nothing more than a 9" diameter, aluminum, V-belt pulley from Ace Harware, hose clamped rigidly to the wheel. With two turns of parachute cord around this pulley she steered well using a stainless and bronze Aries.

Slipping the steering line over the rim of the pulley was a simple matter. Not pretty but simple and effective.

We had a 4-turn peg to peg worm gear steering system and so used a 2 to 1 block system with cleat similar to what jmrod describes. An inch of pull from the vane resulted in 2-inch pull on the pulley.

If you can find an old Nordic Track on the 2nd hand market they incorporate a robust, 6-inch, nylon pulley that is ideal for making a clutched wheel drum or one that is fixed with a pin.

The diameter of the drum is critical and should be in the neighborhood of 6" to 9" depending on your turns peg to peg.

A bicycle rim at 18"+ as S/V Beth used is too large a diameter. The power of these servo-pendulum vanes is easily enough to rip the wheel from your hands at six knots with a 6" pulley.
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Old 18-09-2015, 10:40   #7
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Quote:
Originally Posted by seasick View Post
We made it around the world with nothing more than a 9" diameter, aluminum, V-belt pulley from Ace Harware, hose clamped rigidly to the wheel. With two turns of parachute cord around this pulley she steered well using a stainless and bronze Aries.

Slipping the steering line over the rim of the pulley was a simple matter. Not pretty but simple and effective.

We had a 4-turn peg to peg worm gear steering system and so used a 2 to 1 block system with cleat similar to what jmrod describes. An inch of pull from the vane resulted in 2-inch pull on the pulley.

If you can find an old Nordic Track on the 2nd hand market they incorporate a robust, 6-inch, nylon pulley that is ideal for making a clutched wheel drum or one that is fixed with a pin.

The diameter of the drum is critical and should be in the neighborhood of 6" to 9" depending on your turns peg to peg.

A bicycle rim at 18"+ as S/V Beth used is too large a diameter. The power of these servo-pendulum vanes is easily enough to rip the wheel from your hands at six knots with a 6" pulley.
Curtis, I know that is your belief, but having done both now, I feet that both ways would work if you did it properly. My wheel was off a kids bike, and was closer to 15-16 inches. I do like the smaller diameter I got from monitor, but both worked. The smaller wheel, btw, requires the lines to the monitor to be much tighter.
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Old 18-09-2015, 11:00   #8
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

@S/V Beth, Hi Mark, Agreed on all counts. I really think that a proper, manufactured drum is worth saving for.
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Old 18-09-2015, 12:53   #9
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

I have a great wheel adapter I would sell for far less than a new one, can send pictures if your interested.
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Old 19-09-2015, 00:09   #10
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Thanks for the offer Nanamuk. The other reason I am going homemade is that I am thinking about taking the pedestal out later this year and going back to tiller. I've got some miles to cover first though. I'll save your contact info and make an offer if I end up keeping the pedestal steering and am not satisfied with my DIY.
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Old 19-09-2015, 00:20   #11
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

It's not for a rope drum but is part of the belt drive for my autopilot made out of a Regal Cookware frying pan with fixing brackets made from alloy angle. Looks a bit industrial but fits in well with the rest of the boat since I abandoned yachty stuff and went retro-durable industrial. Would work well with a wind vane wheel drive and could be dual purpose.
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Old 19-09-2015, 00:24   #12
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Thanks everyone for your encouragement and suggestions. Just to clarify, three of you are using double pulleys and cam cleats. Steering line comes from the vane to the first block, then wraps around the drum a few times, then leads back to second block and then to cam cleat... Right?
Seasick, do the para cord wraps from each side nestle into the narrow groove of the v belt pulley together without binding or interfering with each other? I was imagining making the drum with a divider to keep the two lines separate, but it sounds like that is not necessary.
Thanks again for your help everyone.
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Old 20-09-2015, 17:27   #13
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

@jmord, because we were four turns stop to stop it was expedient to terminate the lines from the vane to fixed points on large diameter blocks. Another line, parachute cord, went from a cleat through the large diameter block, around the V-belt pulley two or three times out through the other large diameter block and back to a cleat. Not particularly efficient but worked very well for that 40K mile cruise. If your steering system is two turns stop to stop, just use the parachute cord directly around the V-belt pulley. Even in a panic release one line or the other will be more slack and readily come off the pulley. Not the best by any means but it works.

@RaymondR, I too have used a stainless frying pan for a pilot drum and a windvane drum. With mine, I roughed up the pan with sandpaper, laid on an 1/8" coat of epoxy putty all the way around then coated the belt in Vaseline and carefully wrapped it around the pan. Once the belt's impression was left in the putty, the putty was left to harden. Voila, DIY timing belt pulley. Works great for a pilot or attach your vane lines to a broken belt for the vane.
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Old 21-09-2015, 10:56   #14
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Thanks seasick and Raymond R. This is very helpful. Working on this today.


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Old 22-09-2015, 20:51   #15
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Re: Homemade wheel drum for wind vane

Some people are talented tinkerer's and innovative repurposer's and then there are people like me.
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