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Old 29-04-2013, 16:46   #1
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Autohelm ST4000 drive lever doesn't stay.

On my Autohelm ST4000 wheel drive unit, the "drive lever" will not stay engaged. This is the lever on the wheel drive that locks the wheel and the wheel drive unit together.

I've solved the problem to date by wrapping a velcro strap around it to avoid having it back out and disengage.

Trying to solve the problem with a more proper and permanent fix. Anyone have any experience/suggestions with this? Thought I'd ask before jumping in and taking everyting apart.
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Old 29-04-2013, 18:07   #2
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Start with a new belt and inspect while its being installed.
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Old 29-04-2013, 18:18   #3
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Will do..... Does the belt tension dictate the holding power of the lever once activated? If so I could see how a loose belt may allow lever to back off?
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:44   #4
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Re: Autohelm ST4000 drive lever doesn't stay.

Is this the black or gray drive?
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:48   #5
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Is this the black or gray drive?
Black.....and I've come to understand that black indicates the older model which is more difficult to find parts for
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:58   #6
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Re: Autohelm ST4000 drive lever doesn't stay.

Yes, it is older. As suggested, a new belt. You also need to clean the cam roller for the clutch. To do it properly, you need to remove the clutch lever and disassemble the cam / roller. Clean and lubricate. What happens is that the roller gets gummed up and when there is sufficient friction, it will drag the clutch lever open, but only when the drive turns in one direction.
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Old 29-04-2013, 20:20   #7
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Yes, it is older. As suggested, a new belt. You also need to clean the cam roller for the clutch. To do it properly, you need to remove the clutch lever and disassemble the cam / roller. Clean and lubricate. What happens is that the roller gets gummed up and when there is sufficient friction, it will drag the clutch lever open, but only when the drive turns in one direction.
This is good news! That is exactly what happens! The clutch lever only opens when pulled one direction but not the other. I will get after this when I'm at the boat next (making sure to bring my schematic with me). Great to hear that the part likely isn't broken.... Especially since its older and hard to get parts for.

Thanks so much!
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Old 29-04-2013, 20:30   #8
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Re: Autohelm ST4000 drive lever doesn't stay.

The clutch lever is held in place with a tension pin. Sometimes they can be punched out, other times they must be drilled. The drill bits are so small, they tend to snap off easily so use caution. Do not break the clutch lever as they are next to impossible to find. If you can not get the lever off, you could try a few drops of oil between the black roller and metal cam.
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Old 29-04-2013, 21:18   #9
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Noted. If I have to drill the pin, I'm assuming I could find a stainless replacement at the hardware store?
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Old 29-04-2013, 21:19   #10
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Also, what's a "detente"?

Doing some research and some claim this item wears out causing the lever issue.
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Old 30-04-2013, 06:06   #11
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Re: Autohelm ST4000 drive lever doesn't stay.

Most ACE hardware stores have a hobby section that has SST rods. I think you will find that a good clean and lube will work.
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Old 05-03-2015, 09:08   #12
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Re: Autohelm ST4000 drive lever doesn't stay.

I know this is an old thread, however, I had the same problem and after taking apart my ST4000 drive ring found out why the lever would not stay engaged on my unit.

Mine worked marginally if I held the lever in the engaged position and I tried the shock cord method of holding it there, however, it still seemed to slip a bit. When I took it apart the belt seemed fine but I noticed that the cam wheel with offset hole that attaches to the clutch lever spun on the shaft that connects to the clutch lever. It didn't move freely which is why I presume it worked somewhat. So I pulled it off, and sure enough there appears to have been two small pins which sheered off inside the cam wheel which would (if not sheered) cause the cam to be in a fixed position relative to the clutch lever. In the first two photos you can see the dimples where the pins sheered on the shaft and inside the cam. The second two photos show what the approximate position of the offset cam should be in the disengage and the engage position... either releasing tension off belt or applying tension to belt. In the engaged position the cam should be at such an angle that it will be held in position by the pressure of the belt.

Based on what others have said regarding finding parts for these old units, I think I am just going to attempt to drill a hole(s) for a new pin(s). This should solve the problem of the lever not holding in the engage position and also problems related to apparent slipping belt due to cam not locking into the fully engaged position.

Jason H
s/v Canopus
1984 Catalina 36 #311
Puget Sound, WA
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