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Old 19-09-2014, 03:45   #91
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Scotland
Boat: Verl900 30ft
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Re: Selecting a Wind Vane for My 50' Columbia

I must throw in a new design from Scotland for the consideration of servo pendulum users. The inexpensive kit (currently only 300 sterling + delivery) provides materials to make the 'Hebridean' (Self-steering Servo-Pendulum Wind Vane Kit & Plans for DIY Kit for Sailors | www.windvaneselfsteering.co.uk) with basic tools. It is part wood, which you source yourself. Obviously the price alone makes it worth a look to anyone on a budget.

I am able to share that I was John Fleming's (no Oz relation) customer number one in the autumn of 2013. I built my vane over the winter and tested it on my old 1979 30 foot fin and skeg boat in February 2014. Since then I sailed to St Kilda and the Faroe Islands this season (see Practical Boat Owner September 2014), the latter solo, with my new servo pendulum crew member. I really like it!

But there is something more important about this vane. And it was not easy for me to understand till recently. A feature of the geometry is John Fleming's principal innovation, which has allowed such a unit to be built for the first time with a truly horizontal vane axis. Perhaps those here will be able to explain better than me why that is important. Suffice it to say that it largely eradicates many issues associated with units using an axis 20 degrees off horizontal by allowing air pressure to bear on the vane through its full arc of travel, instead of pressure reducing as the vane goes over. Hence the Hebridean needs no bearings to reduce friction and has greater power in all winds, light or strong. Maybe read that again.

A radical claim I know, as I understand the industry abandoned pursuing the truly horizontal axis solution decades ago — back in the early days of servo pendulum development.

This solution is easy and cheap to build, having no bearings or welding. It is robust but would be easy to repair. Possibly cheap and light enough to carry two! It is all 316 stainless except for the tubes and rods which are carbon fibre. (You also need to find your own foam and covering material for the vane, which is built on a carbon fibre tube frame.) It is light and can be demounted by hand under way and stored, but fits any boat with a transom up to 39 inches (1m) in height. The important part is the geometry which I believe could be used in alternative sizes or materials of choice.

I met and have sailed with the designer but have no financial interest in the product. I do however encourage you to have a look...
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Old 19-09-2014, 22:13   #92
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I cannot imagine that Hebridean windvane surviving storm conditions.


Onno
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Old 20-09-2014, 09:17   #93
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Re: Selecting a Wind Vane for My 50' Columbia

I don't think the Hebridean has yet been tested in a proper storm. It is early days. There are parts designed to break such as a sheer pin in the vertical mount to allow it to pivot upwards if it hits an object in the water. The whole unit pivots side to side on a 20mm stainless pin. For sideways overloading the lines attaching the blocks to the pushpit are specifed to break first. But it has been tested up to 300kg of force bearing on the the tiller. The wooden pendulum did bend but nothing broke. I cannot speak with experinece about the possibility of the whole being carried away. What else do you think it needs? Is it the wood that worries you? To me it is the geometry that is revolutionary and it should be possible to upgrade the spec.
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