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Old 24-01-2011, 13:45   #1
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Autopilot Install

I am having a Raymarine autopilot system installed on my C&C 40. It will have a S3G computer with a type2 electric linear drive unit. The space is limited and it will not be easy. Can any of you guys give me a ballpark figure as to how much labor cost would be involved?
Thanks M
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Old 24-01-2011, 14:00   #2
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A lot depends on the hourly rate but that can be a pretty time consuming project. Even for someone that knows what they're doing. I would try to get them to bid it and do the work at a flat rate.
The installation of my autoplilot, which is pretty much the same unit, took me and a friend about 10 hours total. We've both installed several autopilots and had most of the materials rounded up. It's not one of those projects where you want them to hurry through it just to save money.
Having installed the same type drive unit last summer and having spent some time asking a lot of questions about its installation I would be sure they add quite a bit of additional support where the drive units base is installed.
One of the little extras I did also was to place the control head at the NAV station and not on deck. I then added a remote control to the unit which I use on deck. It keeps the whole unit below decks and has the added benefit of allowing you to steer the boat from anywhere on deck. This is AWESOME if you do much single handing.
The Admiral claims I just wanted a giant remote controlled sail boat but that's not the case at all
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Old 24-01-2011, 14:10   #3
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Autopilot installs are one of the hardest. I've worked with an installer that was in the business 40 years. There are a million details that matter. Some details not done properly won't show up in 5 years and others in 20.

1. Electrical / wiring - The power off the base unit usually steps up the voltage so the wires can be thinner. You'll be using a lot of power in very heavy sea states. You need to wire up the fluxgate, control head computer and drive unit. It means a LOT of wires!

2. Mounting - Mounting the drive unit is usually tricky. They go in tight spaces and you need them aligned very accurate. Most of the time it's a little different.

3. Making a clean install that you can service isn't easy for a DIY.

For something like an autopilot, I use the same approach as canvas work. It's easy to lowball a poor job. Most of the time there are real unknowns and you almost always have to make choices. For the type of autopilot you are installing I would find the best person you can and pay a little extra because you'll save money. When looking being "factory authorized" is minimal qualifications and not something that should be critical. Someone that stocks parts is a help as factory support basically just swaps out parts should you get a bad part.

I really feel the install of the autopilot is critical. It's supposed to steer when you can't. In those situations a bomb proof install will be critical. I would expect it to take someone really good 40 hours including the seas trial and calibration. You might find someone cheap that can do it sooner and then you can pay again later.
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Old 24-01-2011, 14:30   #4
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Thanks guys, I spoke with a guy up in Cananda and he gets $65 hr. His work looks top notch too. ( Richard's Custom Marine Services ). That might be a little low up here in New England but should be close.
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Old 24-01-2011, 15:20   #5
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When you add all the prep time. Studying and figuring out how I was going to do the install. Rounding up parts and learning some of the "tricks" to installing a Raymarine Network. Pre-routing the wiring (not the wiring for the network) it was easily over 40 hours worth of time. The 10 hours was the actual time spent installing the control head, course computer and drive unit. Once those were installed I finished the network wiring. We may have been pretty slow doing the install but as Pblais said, this is something you want to be pretty much bomb proof.
Something else I would recommend is once you have all the components spend a lot of time studying them so you'll understand the install process your self. You'll be a lot more comfortable with the time involved once you do.
I'll give ya one freebie that took me an incredible amount of time and is not listed in any of the literature. The end of the networking cables need a special terminator plug that's not included in any of the component packages and it, as far as I could determine, wasn't listed in any of the literature. It took a call to a raymarine tech (initiated by a West Marine customer service rep.... way thanks to him) for me to figure out why it wasn't working when we had it all hooked up. It's a blue plug and you'll need two, one for each end of the back bone cable.
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Old 24-01-2011, 15:31   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
Autopilot installs are one of the hardest. I've worked with an installer that was in the business 40 years. There are a million details that matter. Some details not done properly won't show up in 5 years and others in 20.

1. Electrical / wiring - The power off the base unit usually steps up the voltage so the wires can be thinner. You'll be using a lot of power in very heavy sea states. You need to wire up the fluxgate, control head computer and drive unit. It means a LOT of wires!

2. Mounting - Mounting the drive unit is usually tricky. They go in tight spaces and you need them aligned very accurate. Most of the time it's a little different.

3. Making a clean install that you can service isn't easy for a DIY.

For something like an autopilot, I use the same approach as canvas work. It's easy to lowball a poor job. Most of the time there are real unknowns and you almost always have to make choices. For the type of autopilot you are installing I would find the best person you can and pay a little extra because you'll save money. When looking being "factory authorized" is minimal qualifications and not something that should be critical. Someone that stocks parts is a help as factory support basically just swaps out parts should you get a bad part.

I really feel the install of the autopilot is critical. It's supposed to steer when you can't. In those situations a bomb proof install will be critical. I would expect it to take someone really good 40 hours including the seas trial and calibration. You might find someone cheap that can do it sooner and then you can pay again later.
I've installed two it's not rocket science and 40 hours !!! That's a work week typical installs take max two days the main issue is often access. In my experience a good diy installation is often better then a " professional" install as you can ensure things are done right

Dave

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Old 24-01-2011, 15:49   #7
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So around forty hrs.then. NCountry, Did you build a mounting surface for your drive? This seems to be the hardest part with a linear drive autopilot. That and the rudder reference sensor. I like the idea of a display unit at the nav station, just hope the batteries don't go on the remote at the wrong time. I don't know what you mean about the back bone cable as this will be stand alone system with connection to GPS or laptop optional. I have installed two wheel pilots and although the drive units are very different the premise is the same otherwise. The I feel 40 is a lot also. How is your drive installed Paul?
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Old 24-01-2011, 15:59   #8
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There is a lot of sitting down scratching your head time involved in autopilot installations. With some boats it is quick as the manufacturer has built in the basic mounting pads, etc., during boat manufacture. With other boats it can be a real brain twister to figure out to fit and connect the drive unit. Or where to locate the compass so other metal on the boat does not affect it. Some boats have large quadrants easily accessible while other boat require the fabrication of quadrant adaptors along with strange and convoluted drive mounting pads. So the estimates can be all over the place from hours to many days.
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Old 24-01-2011, 16:22   #9
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I suppose you have already bought the drive unit so going hydraulic is out of the question. But just in case you haven't purchased the drive I would really recommend you go with a hydraulic unit.
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Old 24-01-2011, 16:54   #10
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I suppose you have already bought the drive unit so going hydraulic is out of the question. But just in case you haven't purchased the drive I would really recommend you go with a hydraulic unit.
With hydraulic you still have a ram involved, which needs mounted just the same as the linear drive, since the steering on a C+C 40 is cable steering.
I agree that mounting the drive is usually the hardest part of the planniing portion, it usually involves glassing in a small platform to the hull that the base of the ram will be bolted to. Once you get it all figured out, then cutting some plywood and glassing it all in takes some time also, then the rudder angle indicator mount and installation, then the mounting of the computer, connection to the batteries, mounting the control head at the helm, connecting the wiring from the control head to the computer, tying it in to the GPS (if desired), all takes time. Depending on the difficluly of the space, time involved will be hard to predict, but it is not an easy task, I would not be suprized if it was 40 hours. I have done a number of installations personally, AND $65 PER HOUR IS VERY REASONABLE! (but don't tell him that). I hope for your sake he doesn't read this forum!
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Old 24-01-2011, 17:00   #11
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For a proper professional installer 40 hours of actual labour is a bit over the top. I've seen the fibreglass work done one day and the install completed the next ( but the owner was asked to wait for a week before using it). Often the elapsed time is a week or more but really unless there are special problems 16-20 would be more typical


40 is more like a DIY would take.
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Old 24-01-2011, 17:03   #12
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I thought my remarks were positive about him. His work was first rate. As far as the hrs. go I am sure it is intensive. If I were to go with something other than electric linear I would go with the direct drives by Jefa with a drag link. The draw on amps is low and back pressure on the steering is lowest also.
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Old 24-01-2011, 17:10   #13
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Mounting pad for autopilot Ram Drive

I'm also in the early stages of pondering the install of a hydraulic unit on my 40ft boat.

It has been said in another thread on CF that the MOUNTING PAD for the electric or hydraulic ram drive must be built to handle hundreds of pounds of thrust (if not thousands). To establish such a pad from scratch sounds a bit daunting. Also not so easy to test - how do you apply a 600lb test load to a hydraulic ram to see whether (or how!) your new pad rips clean out?

It would be helpful to me, the OP and perhaps some other would-be installers here if we could see a photo of an existing Mounting Pad for an over-35ft boat.

If anyone was prepared to upload a photo, or just offer a pointer/link to such a photo, that would assist and be much appreciated.

Martin
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Old 24-01-2011, 17:30   #14
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I am not sure about uploading pic's but here goes. Here's one from another C&C 40. The platform and drive are mounted to the underside of the cockpit sole.
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Old 24-01-2011, 20:10   #15
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The difference between an install for a wheel pilot and what you're going to be doing are a LOT different. The mounting of the course computer and control unit may seem the same but the rest of it are entirely different. For instance, you'll want to wire a continuous duty solenoid from your break panel to the solenoid then run power directly from your batteries to the computer on this install. You'll also need to mount a fuse other than the one in your breaker panel inline with the power to the course computer. That's just one difference.
The upper level Raymarine systems use and network cable that's different than the sea talk you're used to on the wheel pilot. It uses and Sea Talk ng network that involves and back bone cable and drop into the back one from the computer and the controller. A remote control also plugs into the course computer via a network cable that is different from the network the computer and controller are on...
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