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Old 01-08-2012, 21:35   #1
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Welding a Windvane Together

Well, I just got some great plans, and now I am excited about doing my own wind vane. Has anyone else used these plans or others to make their own wind vane?
Fay Marine vane steering plans
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Old 01-08-2012, 21:57   #2
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Re: Welding a windvane together

hi newt, i remember looking through these plans when i was designing my windvane but i cant remember exactly what i got from them. can i recommend this link for a fairly exhaustive study of self steering WINDPILOT: selfsteering under sail i found it really useful. I had to build two units - the first one was experimental and it didnt work but it taught me not to try and reinvent the wheel - the windpilot book helped me narrow down the choice of types of unit to the one design that would work given my boats particular problems. In my case - centre cockpit, hydraulic steering, ketch rig with a boom overhang, rudder beneath hull overhang...the only unit that would overcome all those things was a dual rudder pendulum system with horizontal vane - bit complex to design and build but it works beautifully. Good luck, it aint easy but when it works its a blast (and it saved me $thousands)
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Old 01-08-2012, 22:40   #3
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Re: Welding a windvane together

Helped a fella down the dock bild one up in PNW, 15 or 16 years ago, looked like it would never work , but ya know it worked like a charm, took a little tweeking, but it steered his 42 ft heavy ketch ! had the seperate rudder style of the pics ! hope ya get it done! and let me know how it comes out!! with a pic or 3 !!LOL
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Old 02-08-2012, 00:09   #4
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Re: Welding a windvane together

Those plans only show very basic stuff. Even if you are mechanically inclined it will take a lot of time figuring out what is not shown.

If you do not mind getting a crude system working and refining it over the years, they are a good place to start.
If you want to get a system working with as little work as possible you are probably better off with more detailed plans.
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Old 07-08-2012, 23:16   #5
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Re: Welding a windvane together

hi sven, how about declaring your interest before discouraging someone else in undertaking building a windvane steering unit - you make/sell mr vee self-steering units do you not?
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Old 07-08-2012, 23:36   #6
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Re: Welding a windvane together

G'Day Newt,

Can't help you with specific plans, but thought I'd encourage you to persevere. Before we left SF back in 1986 I designed and built my own vane system for Insatiable I (old IOR one-tonner). What we ended up with was an auxiliary rudder/trim tab driven by an horizontal axis vane and push/pull cables, al la the AutoHelm vane design. After some experimental trimming of the rudder balance (my elaborate calculations based on NACA foil shapes were WAY wrong!) it started working well, and over the following 17 years drove the boat for most of the 86K miles we covered in her. It was by far the most satisfying of all my DIY projects on that boat and I could (and did) spend hours at sea just watching it steer.

Hang in there, mate... you'll be glad that you did.

And you will save a heap of money, too!

And further, when it breaks, you will bloody well know how to fix it yourself.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 08-08-2012, 00:19   #7
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Re: Welding a windvane together

That is right Charlie. I have gone through the whole process from idea to usable single system, then turning that single system in to manufactured product.

I am not always sure if I should respond in the way I have this time. I do not mean to put anyone off from taking on a project like this.

I owe a lot to the self building community, especially Walt Murray and Jan Alkema who have done a lot of research in to designing and building self steering systems.
Compared to what those two did, the Fay plans are a bit spartan, though very nicely drawn. Actually, they are more like a set of ideas to work with.

Now if you are mechanically inclined and you love tinkering, those ideas will give you a great place to start. But I can tell you from experience, it takes a long time to get from an idea to a working system.

This is fine if you love to tinker. But if you want to do a bit of building and then do a lot of sailing, I think you are better off using the Walt Murray plans and just build a servo pendulum system.
Even if you were to build two of them, one to gain experience and one in more durable materials, then you are likely to have spent less time on a good working system than going with the Fay drawings.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:41   #8
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Re: Welding a windvane together

I had designed one in the 90's. Worked ok but was a little spindly. I have Hydraulic steering which everyone claims a servo pendulum will not work on. I am installing a by-pass valve operated from the steering station area. I have a rudder post that stick up to facilitate a tiller. So...flip the valve, attach the steering chain from windvane to tiller and Viola...on auto!
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Old 08-08-2012, 15:17   #9
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Re: Welding a windvane together

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
I had designed one in the 90's. Worked ok but was a little spindly. I have Hydraulic steering which everyone claims a servo pendulum will not work on. I am installing a by-pass valve operated from the steering station area. I have a rudder post that stick up to facilitate a tiller. So...flip the valve, attach the steering chain from windvane to tiller and Viola...on auto!
yeah a bypass valve and servo pendulum was what i realised would be a simpler system when i was about half way through building my unit - the thing that i prefer with the dual rudder system is 1. no control lines, 2.no friction deficits between any of the active elements, 3. allowed for a quick release system which means i can get the unit on/off in a few minutes. 4. compared to most self steering units mine is unobtrusive and ... pretty good lookin. But a single servo pendulum sure is much simpler and every bit as effective.
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Old 09-08-2012, 04:18   #10
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Re: Welding a windvane together

To me the plans look good, but without much detail.

I have sailed with a few different but similar homemade systems, 3 trim tab systems and one homemade servo pendulum. They all worked well offshore once I got used to them and got the boat trimmed right.

The homemade Servo pendulum worked best, but the trim tabs units were fine offshore (less good in gusty coastal conditions). One of the trim tab units was an auxiliary rudder trim tab unit on a Roberts 54 with a vertical axis vane. It worked fine even in light stuff, and was very powerful in stronger winds.

Think hard about how to hold the trim tab in line when motoring, If they have any slop the whole rudder can vibrate annoyingly.

I think the horizontal axis vane would be much better.

Also look at John Letchers book on wind vanes and also Bill Belcher's, if you can find it.

Cheers
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Old 13-08-2012, 10:23   #11
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Re: Welding a windvane together

I am really grateful for everyone that responded. Even someone telling me that it is tough to get it right. I have been hitting lecture's book and the internet heavily while I finish some other projects. I do have one or two questions though:
On a trim tab with aux rudder, does the aux rudder need to be on a tiller and controlled, or does the trim tab control the movement of the aux rudder?
Would you mount the control of the control tab on the aux rudder directly above the rudder post?
Are dingy mounts good enough for the trim tab and the auxiliary rudder?
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Old 13-08-2012, 17:37   #12
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Re: Welding a windvane together

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
I am really grateful for everyone that responded. Even someone telling me that it is tough to get it right. I have been hitting lecture's book and the internet heavily while I finish some other projects. I do have one or two questions though:
On a trim tab with aux rudder, does the aux rudder need to be on a tiller and controlled, or does the trim tab control the movement of the aux rudder?
Would you mount the control of the control tab on the aux rudder directly above the rudder post?
Are dingy mounts good enough for the trim tab and the auxiliary rudder?
G'Day Newt,

I'll try to answer your queries as best I can, based only on my personal experience.

First, there need be no tiller on the aux rudder. It's movements are solely energized by the trim tab. That said, it is necessary to have some means of restraining it whilst reversing, and often while under power. On Insatiable I I accomplished this with a pair of lines lead from the top aft corner of the rudder blade to cleats on the corners of the transom. These were tied off when the vane was not in use.

In my design, the trim tab was driven by push/pull cables run through teflon tubing from arms on the horizontal axis wind blade. The beauty of this system is that the wind blade can be mounted wherever convenient. I shamelessly borrowed the concept from the AutoHelm vane which I believe is still manufactured by Scanmar. I suggest that you do some research on that design, for that will explain how it all goes together.

The trim tab does not have big forces acting on it, so gudgeons and pintles from a dinghy would be strong enough. I used a bit of 1/4 inch diameter s/s rod that ran the full length of the tab and sat in simple blocks of teflon on the trailing edge of the rudder, and that worked just fine. However, the g&p for the aux rudder need to be quite strong, for that rudder is actually steering the boat. Mine were s/s fabrications at first, and incorporated pins that were 5/8 inch diameter. After about 20,000 miles one of those pins broke, probably due to a poor weld placement on my part. I fixed that and then after another 10K miles the s/s weldment attaching the pin to the rudder broke. I then whittled up a pattern and had some bronze castings made in New Zealand. These fittings are still intact AFAIK and certainly survived a further 50K miles of use before we sold the boat.

As far as performance goes, this sort of vane will wander a bit more than a good servopendulum design, and is a bit slower to respond to yaw. But, the advantages of a separate aux rudder as a backup, the lack of control lines to the helm and the simplicity of design and construction are powerful motivators for me!

Cheers and good luck with the project.

Jim
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