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Old 12-07-2009, 23:21   #1
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CPT Autopilot

Does anyone have experience with a CPT Autopilot ?
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Old 09-12-2009, 10:26   #2
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That's a great question! I recently came across their ad in 48 North, looking for a sturdy AP for our Union 36. Hopefully someone out there will chime in.
Bob
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Old 09-12-2009, 12:49   #3
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I'd suggest you use 'search' and query the SSCA DB on this; it's been discussed a fair bit. SSCA Discussion Board • Index page

A very satisfied user of the CPT is the skipper on SOGGY PAWS; you might visit their extensive equipment section at svsoggpaws.com Dave is so pleased with it that he relies on it for his CSY 44 and as his only autopilot. OTOH he carries three of them...which is a nice seque into my less-than-satisfactory experience with one, which I think you'll also find at the SSCA DB.

Of the 3 helm-mounted units I've used, the Raymarine 4000+ has been by far the best when performance, manufacturing quality and longevity are concerned. The little plastic gears on their little plastic stems made the CPT the least.

Jack
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Old 09-12-2009, 13:11   #4
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I have used two wheel pilots (Raytheon 3000 and a CPT) before switching over to a WH hydraulic AP. The 3000 was the most reliable of the wheel pilots and delivered the reliability and performance it was designed to; the CPT was problematic. I had problems with the clutch disengaging itself and the pilots ability to hold a course was consistently unreliable.

Steve
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Old 09-12-2009, 14:52   #5
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We have a CPT autopilot. I wish I could give it an unqualified thumbs up, but it just ain't so. We have had it since around 2000 or 2001 and have used it on 25 to 30 trips on the Gulf of Mexico ranging from 4 to 48 hours. On a good day, the CPT will hold a course within 10 degrees of either side of where it is set. On a bad day, it will let the boat wander another 5 degrees or so, and on a really bad day it will, without warning, suddenly turn hard to port.

I will say that it is better since we sent it in for a "tune up" last year and it has not done the "hard turn to port" trick since we got it back from the shop. It is at its best offshore where the wave action and natural motion of the boat hides the tendency to wander a bit. Out on the Gulf it has steered many hours without a hitch. On protected waters, it's tendency to wander is much more noticeable.

We had a Raymarine wheel pilot of some sort on a previous smaller boat. The Raymarine could hold a much tighter course than the CPT can, but I always had a feeling that the Raymarine was moments away from falling apart although it never did. The gears made an unpleasant "gnashing" sound and it seemed to be working hard all the time, but maybe it was a bad unit or we just had it set up wrong.

When we were looking for autopilots for this boat, we were trying to avoid the expense and somewhat complicated installation of a below decks unit. Most of the wheel pilots seemed to be limited to boats under 20,000 lbs and we are a little over that. We were trying to avoid a pilot that would be working at its limits all the time and the only thing available for boats over 20,000 lbs was the CPT.

To it's credit, the CPT has been pretty robust. No total failures, and we have traveled with other boats whose wheelpilots have given them fits. The new owners were very helpful when we sent it in for a tune up last year.

For now, we have decided that the CPT is good enough for what we need it for, although I notice that Sailorguy and Euro Cruiser both have had good experiences with Raymarine and Raytheon wheel pilots on bigger boats than mine so maybe I will reconsider.

For what it's worth, when we were thinking about replacing the CPT last year, we did some internet research and the folks like Sailorguy with a WH were universally happy with their autopilots. If I was starting from scratch, I would probably think long and hard about a WH below decks unit.
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Old 09-12-2009, 15:04   #6
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Zydeco - that's our situation too. We're needing an AP for our 24,000 lb boat, but most wheel models max out at 20k. If I had the buck$ I would buy a Raymarine below decks unit, but we're budgeting. The CPT is around $2000, I wonder what the W-Hs' go for?
Bob
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Old 09-12-2009, 15:12   #7
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Hi Bob. I seem to remember that the WH's were pricey. Somewhere in the $4K to $5K range depending on what options it came with. Which is why we still have the CPT. On the other hand, the WH works good and lasts a long time. If I remember correctly, they are made up in your neck of the woods.

Dave
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Old 09-12-2009, 16:33   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Euro Cruiser View Post
The little plastic gears on their little plastic stems made the CPT the least.
Jack
I have two of these things. Where are the little plastic gears and stems? The guts of the CPT wheel pilot are really a Bosch truck windsheild wiper motor and drive if I remember correctly...it seems REALLY tough to me.

Dave on Soggy Paws has come up with a really cool mod too! He calls it the "Raymarine 5000 CPT Mod" He takes a modern RayMarine head, and controls the CPT drive with it. Neat idea...uses a modern flux compass...

S/V Soggy Paws - CSY 44 - Dave and Sherry McCampbell
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Old 09-12-2009, 17:27   #9
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Clutch Disengages:
Motor unit is tilted so the drive pulley shaft is not parallel to the wheel shaft, and belt tension is disengaging the clutch. Pulleys must be aligned and parallel when the clutch is engaged.
The setscrew recessed into the drive pulley-gear adjusts the ball bearing friction in the clutch. Slightly tightening this screw will lock the clutch more securely in position; tightening too much will make the clutch difficult to disengage. This normally does not need adjustment unless the screw has worked loose or there has been extensive wear. Use a little Lock-tight if the screw has worked loose.

Loose Power Connections:
CPT may fall off-course, then unexpectedly turn to port, then correct back to starboard. When the CPT is powered-on, the motor briefly activates to port during a 30 second warm-up. Loose power connections can cause the unit to intermittently turn off and power-up again, initiating another warm-up and motor activation.
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Old 10-12-2009, 00:28   #10
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I wonder why wheel AP makers don't use more robust motors and gears, as those seem to be the main complants with wheel APs. And why don't they make larger wheel APs for larger boats?...seems like there is a market for one.
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:41   #11
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"I wonder why wheel AP makers don't use more robust motors and gears..."

I think that was the original point when the CPT was developed by a couple out in the SF Bay area. Then Charles Pukit (a guy in Ft. Lauderdale) bought the rights to it, added a 'waterproof circuit board', and sold it as the 'tractor a/p' and antagonized w-a-y too many of his customers. To amend that problem, he sold it to the Scanmar folks as Hans thought it might be a niche product for those of us spending so much money on wind vanes that we didn't have enough left over for a below-decks a/p. (Smart guy, Hans...usually). But the manufacturability issues drove the price up even more, I suspect they weren't accustomed to the kind of post-sales support an electronics product demands (not like selling wind vanes) and itjust didn't produce the profit they were hoping. At that point, I stopped following its commercial path...but as you can see, it's always been a bit of an orphan.

The problems I had were in part the power of the motor (it's set up to 'give' above a certain counterforce, to protect the motor so I was told, and I've found it never coped well with even modest weather helm - and despite a factory 'tune up'), but ultimately with the little plastic gears in the course control unit. There was enough play in that unit's assembly that the gears would misalign and that meant loss of steering. The Scanmar product I was using had a course control unit that was not designed to be 'adjusted' and, ultimately when doing the Frisian Is. of Germany, I gave up on repairing the CCU and began using a tiller pilot with our vane until we could get a 4000+ sent to us.

So ironically, most of my gripes with the CPT were despite the big motor and toothed belt. OTOH I find the 4000+ has far more power to deal with WHOOSH's helm despite the motor being much smaller, as it doesn't give up like the CPT motor did. It doesn't surprise me when Dave told me he was very pleased with his, because Dave's a good tinkerer and likes to 'make things work'. But it also doesn't surprise me to learn he gave up on the CCU and has used the brain & flux gate compass of the Raymarine unit.

$2K for a CPT? A friend bought & installed a Raymarine below-decks unit earlier this year, purchased on line, for $4K all-up. I think that's f-a-r better value.

Jack
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:50   #12
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Dave, I think they're located on Bainbridge Island just south of here. While I was working in the boatyard this year several commercial fishguys suggested W-H. I think that commercial is W-Hs' primary market. My concern there was parts availability worldwide, as we sail south that is...

I contacted CPT to see if they might be at the Seattle Boat Show next month, they said "hopefully". I'd like to see one of their units firsthand, especially the inside!

According to what I'm reading here on the Forum, the CPTs' seem to be the toughest above deck unit.

Bob
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Old 10-12-2009, 15:32   #13
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After checking out the link that Christian posted S/V Soggy Paws - CSY 44 - Dave and Sherry McCampbell , I was surprised at how simple the CPT units are. There sure must be some big mark ups on APs.
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Old 09-04-2017, 06:23   #14
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Re: CPT Autopilot

Well, I decided to give it a shot after reading all the stuff on the forums. Sea trialed on a crossing to the Bahamas. I didn't see any of the negatives people mention. See for yourself. Video review here: https://youtu.be/AiX-5eqdX-w
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