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Old 26-05-2007, 08:33   #1
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Autohelm - Keep or Replace?

Boat came with Autohelm ST50 Series Depth, Speed, Wind, GPS plus the ST7000 autopilot. I need to replace the wind transducer and investigate why the GPS quit, but everything else works OK. The Depth display at the helm is a bit cloudy but readable. 2 different radar units work fine, a low-power consumption JRC LCD unit at the helm and a fancy CRT Furuno at the Navsta. Radar & GPS units are not interfaced to anything of course. All electronics are 1992 vintage or slightly newer.

Watching eBay for several months I see a pretty good supply of Autohelm replacement displays & other parts. Have not investigated to see if Raymarine still stocks parts for all of these - but I did see that the ST50 wind transducers are not available from their website (out of stock).

The new ST60+ instruments are an exact fit replacement from what I see, but I'm not sure if this product line was the demarcation between analog and digital instruments. If so I assume it's a line that if crossed would require me to replace all sensors as well as the display units.

I will be adding a color chartplotter and will replace the secondary Trimble GPS unit as well. I'm torn between buying a complete integrated system and making do with what I've got (new chart plotter will be added regardless).

Lots to consider besides cost: resale value (in 5 years perhaps), intended use (part-time cruising morphing to perhaps full-time), emerging technologies, etc... And of course it's the guns-vs-butter debate while looking at the budget for refit this fall.

So if given the same scenario, would you keep the ST50 units and gather spares or bite the expensive bullet and upgrade?


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Old 26-05-2007, 09:05   #2
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I vote for upgrade, and send the old unit to me
It really depends on your needs and wants. You will be able to find parts for the units you have for years to come, as they are very popular. They work well, and will probably suite your needs. OTOH, upgrades will have more bells and whistles, but, they may not serve your purpose any more efficiently. Keep imind that even if you upgrade, by the time you install the latest/greatest, there will be something better on the market. As for resale, I have found that expensive electronics are a poor investment, as the new buyer will always want the latest/greatest, and will be replacing everything anyway, and will not consider 5 year old electronics to add more value than 10 year old electronics.

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Old 26-05-2007, 10:03   #3
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I have had the ST 50 insturment pack for an entire circumnavigation. The only instrument I replaced was the depth sounder read out in the cockpit. I vote for keeping the old instruments if you can get needed replacements. Plus, the Autohelm 7000 is an awesome autopilot. Ours is 13 years old and took us around the world with only one change of epicyclic gears, and one motor replacement. I regard the Autohelm 7000 as one of my most reliable pieces of gear on Exit Only. It's a bullet proof autopilot that's always there when we needed it - which was 99.99% of the way around the world.

Dave -Sailing Vessel Exit Only
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Old 26-05-2007, 17:39   #4
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The Autohelm 7000 is a great unit. Buying some spare parts is not a bad idea. Ours has 40,000 miles (not by me) and still great. The ST 50 stuff is pretty dated but there is a lot of it out there. It's sort of state of the art for 1989 and won;'t be compatible with anything else new. You could install a new depth / wind setup though and not worry too much. Running new wires up the mast isn't a cheap trick, but if you pull the stick then it maybe time to make the decision. You have to pull the stick to run new wires up the mast else they flog until they short.
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Old 15-08-2007, 10:38   #5
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Hi, I am new in here.
I've got a 7000 that's fitted with a continuos running pump. presently, the pump is running even when the autopilot is in stand by mode. is this normal? would'nt make sense to have it off while in stand by and running when in power mode?
Athank you all for your advise.
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Old 15-08-2007, 10:49   #6
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I've got the ST60 Raymarine system, autopilot, C series colour chartplotter etc., all integrated and have been happy with it for the past three years. If you are going to an all new system I would say don't do it until you are ready to go cruising. The "improvements" come fast and furious so it's best to wait until you're taking off. In the meantime make do with what you've got.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 15-08-2007, 18:41   #7
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pblais: interested in your comment "you have to ..... run new wires up the mast else they flog until they short " I have been thinking about this, isn't there some way to secure cables against the mast sides (insides) without pulling the stick? Maybe drill opposite small holes in a few places along the mast and then somehow tie wrap the wiring bundle against the side of the mast?
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Old 16-08-2007, 02:02   #8
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To prevent wires and cables from slapping inside the mast:
Install 3 tie wraps (cable ties), at 120 degree offsets, around the bundle, every 3 feet or so. Leave the ends uncut.
The uncut ends press upon the inside of the mast, more or less centreing the bundle, and keeping it away from the extrusion.
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