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Old 26-03-2010, 06:53   #46
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In response to my question about how quickly the Saye's rig could be disconnected, Ron at Scanmar replied:
The airvane mast lifts off vertically, off its 14" high staff on the base casting. The entire pendulum shaft lifts off the ball on the base assembly after moving its locking pin. The tiller arm obviously remains on the rudder.
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Old 20-04-2010, 19:28   #47
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--Dennis--

I just happened across your post today...don't know if you've already pulled the trigger and purchased a windvane. If not, here are some thoughts:

- I have a Columbia 50, and had one once before also, that I sailed from San Diego to Hawaii and back, among other things. You're going through all the thinking I went through not quite 20 years ago!
- No question in my mind--servo-pendulum is the way to go on a Columbia 50. The balanced spade rudder means the boat steers beautifully with a vane.
- On my "old" boat--the one we sailed to Hawaii, I had a Fleming vane. It was a beautiful piece of gear of the highest quality. I was sold right from the beginning, but even more so one night as we rolled down the Molokai channel in relatively big waves with lots of wind. As the waves would throw the stern to one side or the other--with little change in the apparent wind direction--the vane would immediately correct and keep the boat on course. (That's the whole deal behind a servo pendulum; it immediately counters with tremendous power any would-be sudden course change caused by wave action, as well as doing a great job steering the boat normally based on apparent wind angle changes.) Watching the wheel spin back and forth that night was amazing. If I was steering myself, I probably would have lasted about 20 minutes!
- For my "new" Columbia 50 I recently found a used Monitor and, while I haven't yet installed it, I know it will work just fine. The quality is excellent, although perhaps not quite as good as the Fleming I had before, but it's kind of like the difference between an A and an A+. It's going to be great.
- The Fleming vanes for sale now are quite a bit different than the one I had; I have no thoughts one way or the other on them, but I'll bet that they would be just fine. Monitors, on the other hand, are often for sale in the U.S. used, and having Scanmar readily available is nice.
- I'm sure other servo-pendulum vanes will do a good job steering a Columbia 50, so you can't really go too far wrong. In terms of materials, though, my personal feeling is that aluminum is nice for spars--but I'm not really interested in having it anywhere else.
- For what it's worth, I also advocate having an electric autopilot. Here's why: (1) I always use the autopilot when the boat is under power. There are no concerns about power consumption then, the vane's "oar" is safely out of the water, the boat steers a perfect course, etc. (2) I often click the autopilot on when I'm steering and want to go and do something for just a moment. It's very convenient. (3) I usually click the autopilot on to steer while I go back and get the vane set up. It keeps the boat on exactly the right course until the vane takes over. (4) If something were to happen to the vane, the autopilot serves as a steering backup, although of course I would have to run the engine and charge the batteries a lot more often.

Bottom line...my recommendation...buy a stainless steel servo-pendulum vane, bolt it on, learn to use it, and move on to your next project!

All the best-

Kevin
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Old 22-04-2010, 15:20   #48
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Originally Posted by jim_thomsen View Post
We have the Monitor and think it's great. I ordered it and Scanmar sent all the pre-cut pieces to me in Spain. It was easy to install and so far has worked great (the Atantic and across the Caribbean). We are about to cross the Pacific and I still think it's the best choice after talking to many other yachts. I have never had a problem with the contol lines.
Jim
I like my Monitor also. I thought it was the "gold standard" among wind vanes, not the Aries. I can also vouch for Scanmar's excellent customer service. BTW I have no affiliation with Scanmar or any other purveyor of marine equipment.
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Old 22-04-2010, 16:17   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevkal View Post
--Dennis--
...- I have a Columbia 50, and had one once before also, that I sailed from San Diego to Hawaii and back, among other things. You're going through all the thinking I went through not quite 20 years ago!
- No question in my mind--servo-pendulum is the way to go on a Columbia 50. The balanced spade rudder means the boat steers beautifully with a vane.
...Bottom line...my recommendation...buy a stainless steel servo-pendulum vane, bolt it on, learn to use it, and move on to your next project!

All the best-

Kevin
Kevin,
How well did the vane do when sailing fairly deep downwind? Did the apparent wind changes of your 50ft boat surfing off waves become too much for it?

Paul L
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Old 23-04-2010, 00:03   #50
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Kevin,
How well did the vane do when sailing fairly deep downwind? Did the apparent wind changes of your 50ft boat surfing off waves become too much for it?

Paul L
Paul

The short answer is: I have never had any problems. I'm totally happy.

The long answer is... Of course the more apparent wind speed there is, the better a vane works, and obviously sailing deep downwind means apparent wind speed is quite a bit less. But part of the deal with a vane from my perspective is that you need to work with it a little bit--not like an autopilot where you just click it on. That means that if you pay attention to how the boat is sailing, you can make it easier for the vane to do its job, and it will do it more than well enough. For example, if the boat has a lot of weather helm under a particular set of conditions, you might want to ease the mainsheet just a bit and let the headsail make it easier for the vane keep the bow down. And if you're sailing downwind, without much apparent wind speed, maybe head up just a bit if it makes it easier for the vane to steer. You don't want to be on the edge of gybing all the time anyway. Another thing I would do under those circumstances sometimes is put on a larger paddle, which was supplied by the manufacturer as an alternative to the regular one. Overall my experience has been that the vane always worked beautifully, no doubt partly because I don't expect it to do miracles and partly because my boat has a spade rudder that is easy to turn and that turns the boat very effectively.

On the topic of surfing down waves with large associated apparent wind direction changes, that also hasn't been a problem for me. The hull shape of a Columbia 50 is fairly deep and not really flat enough for surfing...plus the boat weighs 17 tons...so full-on surfing is rare. The boat is more like a freight train under those conditions--a nice comfortable freight train.

On boats that do surf a lot, with the apparent wind going all over the place, I think the general wisdom is that any vane is going to be a problem, so you're unlikely to see one, for example, on a Santa Cruz 50. Of course an autopilot that holds a steady course isn't going to be perfect either, unless you've got the race crew aboard that is going to trim the sails as the wind moves forward, and then ease them out again when the boat slows down again on the back of the wave, over and over again. And if that is what you are doing, you would be much better off with a helmsman that was working with the trimmers anyway, wave by wave, because obviously the autopilot doesn't know what the waves are doing.

That said, I have seen vanes on light displacement boats that surf, and I would imagine that they use them when the boat is sailing in displacement mode...which is most of the time. And when the conditions are such that the boat is accelerating and decelerating a lot, they probably have an electric autopilot too.

Hope this answers your questions. More than you asked for I'm sure!!!

Cheers-

Kevin
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Old 23-04-2010, 10:43   #51
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Originally Posted by kevkal View Post
....
Hope this answers your questions. More than you asked for I'm sure!!!

Cheers-

Kevin
Nah, it is interesting. I didn't realize the Col 50 was that heavy. I definitely agree that you have to sail the boat in a way that supports the vane. But if you think about it, you should sail the boat in a way that supports the helmsman too.

Paul L
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Old 26-04-2010, 17:14   #52
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Kevin,

It's great to hear feedback from a fellow Columbia 50 owner - Thanks !! I haven't yet made a purchase or even settled on a favorite just yet. Glad to hear that you liked the Fleming vane so well - Quality is key. I definitely plan to couple my wind vane to an autopilot for times when the weather is not too rough. It's just too convenient not to take advantage of it and using it coupled to the wind vane lets you handle the Columbia 50 without overpowering the unit as would perhaps be the case otherwise.

It sounds like you're a stainless steel advocate. I still haven't read those manuals yet on all of the models as I've been preparing to pull the boat. It turns out that I can contract some of the work that I can't do myself at my dock (never learned how to weld) so I can do more of the work myself (cutting the cabin sole and the top of the water tanks for inspection ports to be welded), and figure out mounting the table so it can drop down to make a berth - Cutting through the cabin sole will let me get underneath it all for possible mounting options. Sooooo, more research on the horizon. I love the detail and appreciate you sharing your thoughts !! I gained insight and perspective thanks to your posts so please don't hesitate to share more - especially about how things set up on a sister vessel !!!

Thanks,
Dennis
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Old 29-04-2010, 14:30   #53
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Re: update on Aries:

Well well well, I am just back from a friend's boat that has a (brand new?) Aries. I am disappointed to inform that the unit froze (lack of oil in the pendulum sleeve). It was not used for a momo and they did not feed the oil. The thing just froze.

Yes, I know: MAINTENANCE.

BUT (!!!) once I had a little job to get a Monitor (sitting unused for 10+ years) going again. I just droped the pendulum, gave some grease here and there and WHOA off she goes - a bit dirty but ready to cross oceans.

So, to me, Aries - a big disappointment.

barnie
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Old 29-04-2010, 14:43   #54
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The Aries doesn't need lubrication. Sounds like it's the same problem we had with ours caused by the plastic bearings shrinking in diameter. You need to disassemble the servo shaft from the housing and open up the bearings. Did it with a pen knife in the middle of the Marquesas. A file probably would have worked better if I'd had one. I diassembled it later and used a tool for enlarging circular holes, can't remember the proper name for the tool, primarily to clean up the rather messy condition of the bearing from carving on them with the pen knife. Carving on the bearing surfaces didn't seem to hurt the performance of the Aries and I only had to do the surgery after that first passage. It functioned for 10 years thereafter without any attention and probably for another twenty years after that with the new owner.

Grease and salt water don't really get along all that well. The grease tends to turn into a semi hard goop when exposed to salt water that isn't a good lubricant, more an anti-lubricant.
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Old 29-04-2010, 16:11   #55
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Hmmmmm, the bearings of the Aries clearly need modification and with the addition of the different metals, I'm having doubts about it. I'm doing more work myself at the dock before I sail the tub to have it hauled out so I'll get the time at some point soon to go back through all of the wind vanes. It certainly doesn't seem to be an easy decision.
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Old 30-04-2010, 13:44   #56
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Rovehi - you would be bang on if not that the Aries in my friend's boat has a nut with "OIL" on it and the manual says 'add oil'. The nut is in the top area of where the pendulum shaft comes out.

This may be a newer sample than yours then. Probably a re-design. (an improvement?;-))

Yes, I reckon I have to take it apart, clean and re-assemble but I just think it is a sick thing to design things the way they CAN freeze like that.

I have no doubt Aries delivers - seen it on too many boats to doubt.

Cheers,
nick
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:00   #57
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Re: Selecting a Wind Vane for My 50' Columbia

It has been awhile since I last posted and it's time to start making purchases to get ready to sail. I continue to toss and turn on the windvane issue and I think the main contenders in this thread would all make a decent choice.

I've searched the forum on Aries, since I like the bulletproof nature of this unit, and am compiling a list of things that I would customize (like the bearings, join between dissimilar metals, etc.).

This seems to be one of the better threads on comparing windvanes [Perhaps I'm biased since I initially started it] so I would like to revive this thread and throw this out ... What is the best type of bearing to use ??

I notice that plastic bearings are used in several models, but teflon, stainless steel or any other material may be a better choice. Yes, it depends on the metal it is up against so I'm asking specifically for the Aries, but general suggestions are also welcome since I haven't made a final choice yet !! Thanks for any and all feedback !!!
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:43   #58
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Re: Selecting a Wind Vane for My 50' Columbia

- I sent Aries Windvanes USA the following E-Mail:
Ive done a lot of research on windvanes in the past and am now returning to my notes to make a purchase soon. Im compiling a list of things Id like to customize on the Aries, like changing the type of bearings, but having seen it up close and researched it thoroughly its just such a bulletproof unit with the longest history that I come back to it time and again as the best choice to make. Without considering any customization, what does your unit cost? Im outfitting a Columbia 50 sailboat (50 ft long) and want to make sure that it will last for decades. Thanks for your help !!
- Guy Carlson replied:
The cost of an Aries Self-steering Windvane for a Columbia 50, with a wheel helm, is $4995. The Aries Windvane arrives complete and ready to install. All parts on the Aries Windvane are guaranteed for twenty-five years (except the plywood vane) so modification to the proven Aries design is not necessary. As you say "the Aries Windvane is bulletproof".

Well, there's the cost of a new Aries. Again, I haven't made a final choice as there are so many good products out there. I'm a little concerned by the response in that they may not be receptive to any customization changes, like changing out the plastic bearings. Hmmmmm ....
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Old 03-11-2011, 09:08   #59
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Re: Selecting a Wind Vane for My 50' Columbia

I have had a Monitor, Aries and now Sailomat 601. The Aries was a little crude but functioned ok. The Monitor was excellent and in light air surpassed the Aries a little. I feel the Sailomat is an excellent unit with innovative design. But the customer service really sucks! I have not tried it yet so I cannot comment on it's performance.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:34   #60
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Re: Selecting a Wind Vane for My 50' Columbia

Thanks for the feedback, Celestialsailor !! It's a good comparison of the Aries vs. the Monitor since you've owned both of them. I like the all stainless steel construction of the Monitor, but I'm a bit concerned that it can't handle impact well (These things do happen). They note on their site that the metal is thin, but I haven't been able to find the specs on the thickness of the tubes.

Thanks for the honest feedback on the Sailomat customer service because I've always felt their unit was in the running too, but not being able to get help when you need it is always a concern. Thanks again !!
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