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Old 18-10-2014, 04:11   #1
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Hasler windvane

Hi there,

I've been looking at second hand windvanes for a while now, and I've bumped in yet another interesting specimen. This one is a hasler servo-pendulum windvane, supposedly the first one of its kind.

There is some info on the history of the vane and its inventor, but very little on its preformance and more importantly how it compares to modern day vanes.

The wan I have my eye on is much cheaper than modern day ones, but of course there are no spare parts available for it. Then again it's said to be very robust and made entirely from bronze/SS. If it's preformance can be expected to be as good as modern day vanes, I reckon it's worth a shot.

Any input on this?
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Old 18-10-2014, 04:45   #2
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Re: Hasler windvane

It might be worth buying just for the historical value. All kidding aside it has quite the history and if its in good shape there is no reason it wouldn't do the job.
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Old 18-10-2014, 04:49   #3
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Re: Hasler windvane

As I've got no previous experience with windvanes, I'm just wondering if there is any preformance issue with different type/ages of vanes. All servo pendulum vanes obviously use the same principle, but do they preform the same?

All reviews from all big makers I read are positive, and since people rarely have extensive experience with multiple makes of vanes, it makes me wonder if there is much difference between the vanes at all (apart from build quality ofc).

It's no use buying a historical vane that still works mechanically but is so poor in its preformance it's only usable in "perfect" conditions...
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Old 18-10-2014, 05:07   #4
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Re: Hasler windvane

You are right of course, wish I could help you on this one. I have owned and used most of the vanes out there right now but unfortunately not a hasler. Most of todays current vanes owe their design to the hasler in some form or other, I guess I have a touch of nostalgia after reading about those early transatlantic races when this vane was first used. Does the model you are looking at have a vertical vane on a horizontal axis that tips back and forth or is it a fixed vane on a vertical axis that turns to aline itself with the wind??
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Old 18-10-2014, 05:14   #5
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Re: Hasler windvane

In the following article the one I'm looking at is the regular "SP vane".

Hasler Vane Gears
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Old 18-10-2014, 05:26   #6
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Re: Hasler windvane

OK so its a vertical axis vane. This type of vane is not going to be as sensitive as what all the builders are using today. I expect that the lighter wind days will be more of a challenge. They do work of course and many self made gears still use this type of vane but the models with a horizontal axis and counter balanced vanes that tip back and forth are more sensitive. Having said that I see you are sailing a steel 29 footer so its not going to be a speed demon and if it is full keel or similar then the sensitivity is not quite as important as on a faster fin keel boat.
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Old 18-10-2014, 05:32   #7
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Re: Hasler windvane

Boat is 29ft, 4.5 metric tonnes (empty weight) steel tank. It's as old as the first commercially produced Hasler vanes, go figure...

Speed is not an issue no, and I read it's fairly doable to attach an autopilot to the Hasler vane to have it steer the boat in light winds.

What I'm most worried about is the moving parts and possible failure of said parts. For example the gears; they're said to be bronze, but what if one of the "teeth" of the gear was to break? Or the whole thing was to snap off? I don't know how bronze ages, but should it become brittle or prone to galvanic corrosion, breakage would be a MAJOR problem, as it can't be replaced by a new one...
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Old 18-10-2014, 05:32   #8
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Re: Hasler windvane

Would you say the vane can be modified (nylon vane? larger vane?) to be more sensitive? Or is this a balance that shouldn't be messed with?
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Old 18-10-2014, 05:51   #9
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Re: Hasler windvane

I met a couple on a valiant 40 last year who had been around the world 2x with a Hasler setup and loved it. They were pretty smart folks. They also had it hooked up to an electronic tiller pilot for motoring.


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Old 18-10-2014, 05:52   #10
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Re: Hasler windvane

Plus anything associated with Hasler is stupid cool.


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Old 18-10-2014, 06:09   #11
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Re: Hasler windvane

I would not mess with it.
The vertical axis vane has a counterweight out in front and has been sized to work with that vane. The newer type vanes that tip back and forth are easy to change vanes, usually only one wing nut and your ready to go. The windvane portion of this gear only aligns itself with the wind, its the paddle in the water that does all the work but it gets its direction from the windvane so you like that part of the gear to be as sensitive as possible. You can almost judge the internal friction of a vane by looking at the size of the windvane portion. For example look at the Cape Horn wind vane in comparison to most other servo pendulum types, it is about half as large as most other vanes so you know the internal friction is less. That being said the power of these vanes comes from boat speed as its the water paddle doing the work so whenever the boat speed gets down to less than 3 knots the self steering gets pretty slow so even if you have less friction it doesn't help if you have little to no boat speed. If you are on a tight budget and you can get a steal on the vane and it is in real good shape and operate-able then I might go with it. These vanes can all be repaired/welded/sleeved whatever if you have problems so as long as it is in good working order it may represent an opportunity. I'm assuming you are wanting to cross oceans because in my mind vanes are a waste of money if you are only coastal cruising. If this is the case your money is better spent on an autopilot.
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Old 18-10-2014, 06:32   #12
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Re: Hasler windvane

I'm just sailing coastally at this point but love my old Aries vane. I'd like to have an auto helm but that seems less a priority. Particularly since I don't have an inboard and that would eat my batteries really quick.

The couple on the valiant 40 are Scott and kitty kuhner on Tamure. I believe it's the only vane they've ever used.


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Old 18-10-2014, 06:32   #13
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Re: Hasler windvane

I'm looking to cross the Atlantic yes, and budget is indeed an issue.

If you say that steering gets iffy with boatspeeds below 3knts, is that a comment specifically on the vertical axis vane, or all SP vanes? Since the boat is fairly heavy, it won't make much speed under it's normal sail area if the windspeed drops below 4bft... Would this indicate we'd be looking at autopilot-to-windvane selfsteering most of the crossing in any case, regardless of what vane we choose?

Could new, aftermarket gears be easily welded to the existing structure?
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Old 18-10-2014, 07:04   #14
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Re: Hasler windvane

No all steering servo p gears start to have steering issues below 3 knots boat speed, its a little less of an issue if the seas are flat. Adding a cheap tiller pilot to the vane is a good idea and is quite succesful. You didn't tell me what the underbody of your boat was..fin keel or full keel? Some but not all current production vanes could be welded but I personally would want to be able to remove the vane without a cutting torch or a grinder.
Another point, everyone that heads offshore spends a huge amount of time and money preparing the boat for heavy weather which is fine but the biggest issue sailing offshore is keeping your boat moving in light air. Make sure you can set enough sail to keep your boat moving well in B4 conditions and you won't have to worry about how well the vane will work when going too slow. There is no reason in 10-15 knots that you can't make a minimum of 4-5 knots boat speed in your boat if you have the proper sails.
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Old 18-10-2014, 08:16   #15
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Re: Hasler windvane

The boat used to be a classic steel longkeeler. After two years of sea-trails it had its keel chopped though. It's a long story, but here's a picture:



The issue in boatspeed is always going to be weight though. I assume it'll weigh in at around 6.5 metric tonnes fully loaded. There is simply no way a 29ft boat can carry enough sailcloth safely to compensate for that weight...

I am working on a light-air sail warderobe though (drifter in the foretriangle), but I won't expect miracles from it.
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