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Old 05-11-2009, 06:11   #1
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Autopilot Replacement

Last summer the Alpha 3000 autopilot in Fair Wind, our 1982 Lord Nelson 41, developed a mind of its own and we had several disagreements on what heading was to be steered. After talking to the factory I cleaned and tightened all the connections but could never get "Otto" to steer the heading I wanted consistantly. The Alpha, from the PO's logs, appears to be original with the hydraulic ram being replaced in 1997. So I am looking at my autopilot options. Replacement with another Alpha would be the easiest route, everything is set up for it. But I also have a suite of Raymarine GPS, Radar and wind/depth/speed but no fluxgate compass for them. Any thought on my options? Or recomendations?

Mike
S/V Fair Wind
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:23   #2
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Aint no big thing, it only takes boat bucks and marine dollars.

for the unschooled; Boat Buck = 100 American Dollars
Marine Dollar = 1000 American Dollars

As one on here states, there is nothing more noble than pouring money into a boat. I am a very noble person, cause I am spending like a drunk sailor in Singapore.

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Old 05-11-2009, 08:39   #3
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OK, that was real helpful.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:50   #4
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Hi Mike,

I replaced my alpha 3000 on my Stevens 47 with a Raymarine SmartPilot X30/ST70. Still using the alpha elec drive for now. Haven't used it a lot but very happy with it so far.

Doug
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:00   #5
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Just replaced my Navico with a Raymarine X-30 and kept the original Hydraulic ram. It was plug and play.
Just went thru a 35knt /10' seas blow for about 8 hours and all performed well.
Mark
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:16   #6
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The Alpha ram is not hydraulic, its mechanical--I think the original application was an aircraft wing flap actuator. If it has more than 10,000 miles on it, you should probably replace it again. While I'm not a fan of Raymarine, a Raymarine pilot would drive the Alpha ram with an improvement in performance (the Alpha brain was pretty dumb) and a pretty easy install.
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:51   #7
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Raymarine pilot works a treat on our boat, although 10 years old. On a dead run in 40+ knots and biggish seas, got a little confused sometimes, but otherwise never puts a foot wrong. As good or better than any pilot I ever used, including expensive Simrad on a gigantic Swan.
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:30   #8
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The racers mostly prefer NKE or B&G, but even they frequently use Raymarine linear drives, which have a pretty good rep.

A Raymarine pilot will have an advantage on your boat as it will take data from your wind instruments and GPS in the same language it prefers to speak, Seatalk. Other autopilots will want their inputs in NMEA, probably thru a Seatalk/NMEA interface. This will slow down data transfer, probably not a big deal on a heavy cruising boat, but for lightweight racers a pretty big deal.

I know that my smartpilot (Raymarine) with internal rate gyro does very well in following seas, and interfaces seamlessly (plug and play) with my wind instruments and GPS, on a 42' LOA, 31.5' LWL, 24000# boat. Even my racing friends, who constantly slag Raymarine, have been impressed.
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Old 05-11-2009, 14:14   #9
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The new "G" from Raymarine are OK, but delicate - easily busted by power surges, etc.. and make sure you oversize the drive or ram - they break way before the electronic packs.

There are also good hydra units from Simrad, B&G, and a couple of others - so make sure you get something that is easy to get spares and service for your area.

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Old 05-11-2009, 14:30   #10
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I have been using a Raymarine autopilot with an internal gyro on Layla and so far, so good. It has done very well in a variety of conditions. If my memory serves me right, it is a s3g model (course computer.)

Fair winds,

Silndive
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Old 05-11-2009, 15:16   #11
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Did Alpha not offer any other options as far as repairing the existing unit? As I understand it, they still make a model 3000 which is very much like the original 3000. I've spoken to the guys at Alpha and they say they will support the product with parts and repairs. Would be very interested to hear how they deal with your old 3000.

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Old 05-11-2009, 15:35   #12
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I've been looking at upgrading my older Raymarine to a below deck drive unit. Near as I can tell in research is any drive should work with anyone else's system as it is just 2 direction control regardless. So the change to new Raymarine using the older drive may be the best option even over trying to repair old electronic items. Then there is the interface wildcard questions.
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Old 05-11-2009, 15:39   #13
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After 10 years and 23,000 Nm my Raytheon autopilot is still going strong.
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Old 05-11-2009, 17:13   #14
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Stick with the Alpha! My 3000 has been working flawlessly for years now, and Alpha's tech support and service are the absolute best. The Alpha is the most reliable piece of electronics I have onboard.
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Old 05-11-2009, 17:45   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highlander40 View Post
After 10 years and 23,000 Nm my Raytheon autopilot is still going strong.
OK - I had a s/h early Autohelm 1000 and it was good for 3 oceans. But I have also installed the newest from Raymarine last year to substitute a faulty unit. The replacement developed the same problem (not related to the boat nor the installation) within a week.

The new unit was "G" and worked very well indeed. Just burned (the brain box) without any reason - and we know it because all other (much older) instruments were fine ...

I guess the newer units are less robust or maybe the QC in (?) China is not as good as it was in Sweden.

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