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Old 09-12-2009, 11:39   #1
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Do You Like YOUR Autopilot - Why?

I have an Alpha 3000 Autopilot that came with my 24 y/o boat I have taken it in to be repaired three times now and each time it comes back it works for anywhere between three hours and 2 days and then stops. When I send it in to be fixed they say it is working. Well enough is enough. I want a new one. So I am asking what you guys have and how you like it. I am willing to give up the "smart" part of the autopilot for reliability. I am considering Raymarine -- but their financial problems worry me. Furuno, Simrad are also on the list and then there are two other brands that don't advertise as much or at all Nexus and WH Autopilots. I don't need one that runs off the GPS but I am not against that either. I don't need one that will sail off of the wind direction and am mildly against that. I have a windvane as my backup and will probably get a tiller pilot attached to the windvane as a 3rd redundancy.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 09-12-2009, 11:52   #2
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Charlie..we are very satisfied with the WH we have had installed for 12 years; its a solid heavy duty pilot with few frills. Simplicity and heavy duty is what made the decision...no regrets.

Steve
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:24   #3
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In my experience the Raymarine units are good and very good value for the money. I taken one across the atlantic, several one long distance trips ( > 1000 miles). no failures. The main issue seems to be the output transistors sometimes blow on the autopilot board, but I think they have been beefed up.

Simrads ( used to be robertson) are good, but expensive, but a lot of the excellant robertson design is now designed out of the pleasure line and I suspect quality isnt the same.

GAmrin new one looks good, but currently is only for hydraulic systems and powerboats

Furuno is mad money and I wonder what you are paying for.

Cant comment on WH or Comnav, but all I would say is do you wnat to buy a "minority" interest autopilot, thats ok if your within range of their service........
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:46   #4
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My Raymarine wheel drive unit was working good, but now has a hard time. I think it is a belt problem and plan to replace the wheel drive with a below decks.

But the part of my story that goes to the thread is that when I contacted Raymarine for help it was a waste of time. The "help" I got in the end just showed me that the person "helping" me knew nothing. So I would take them off the list due to poor support etc as with their problems like this is going to grow.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:00   #5
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raymarine 6002. Its never missed a beat.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:42   #6
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Raymarine with hydraulic drive...and it works great with the rest of the Raymarine package. It will even keep a constant angle to the wind greatly reducing the risk of an accidental gybe on a big wind shift.

It has steered our 55 ft boat, 30 ton boat for over 6,000 miles in the last 2 years including through two gales a F8 and a F9.

However, remember that the sails must be balanced for optimum performance and low power consumption allowing significant weather helm puts the autopilot and batteries under tremendous strain.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:07   #7
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No. I have a Comnav 1001 controller that will take me off the trackline 100 meters (XTE) to the right before figuring out which heading to take in order to keep me on the trackline. The Hynautics steering system/steering pump that the Comnav interfaces with works great.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:13   #8
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Very happy with my Simrad/Robertson AP22. No problems.

Jim
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:14   #9
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Thanks for all the comments. This is far too small a sampling to be stastically significant but one of the items that has come up in my research is that Raymarine has a poor record of service but that once the bugs are ironed out they tend to keep on working.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:20   #10
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Another thing to consider about Raymarine is they may be going out of business or may be bought out by another company....Garmin perhaps? There are a number of other companies to choose from that manufacture autopilots.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:24   #11
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Alpha

FWIW, I am having problems with my Alpha and contacted the factory for their recomendations. This is the exchange I had. This subject is also in another thread I started.

Mike
s/v Fair Wind

Dear Mike,

To test the drive for a commutator problem using the remote, you need to cause the drive to move very slowly. The motor would need to stop on an open rotor segment to revel a motor problem.


Chris Gade
Customer Service

----- Original Message -----
From: XXXX@aol.com
To:YYYY@alphamarinesystems.com
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 7:24 PM
Subject: Re: 3000 series autopilot


Chris,
The drive works fine when I have the remote helm hooked up to the pilot, no wandering or anything. The heading excursions only happen when I am trying to use the compass. If that gives you any further insights.

Mike

In a message dated 12/7/2009 7:31:22 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, ZZZZ@alphamarinesystems.com writes:
Dear Mike,

From your description of the system the drive is probably older than 1997 and the motor is probably worn out. We would suggest sending the complete pilot in for diagnostic testing at a cost of $85.00 plus freight.

Chris Gade
Customer Service
----- Original Message -----
From: XXXX@aol.com
To: YYYY@alphamarinesystems.com
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: 3000 series autopilot


Chris,
Sorry for the delay in getting back, but as I said the boat is laid up for the winter and it took a while to get back to her.

The model of the pilot is:
3000M/F
sn 31464

The compass is sn 1311229

The drive is model DU-177W sn 7715-2

Does this help?

Mike
In a message dated 11/6/2009 1:05:26 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, ZZZZ@alphamarinesystems.com writes:
Dear Mike,

If you would like to trouble shoot the pilot yourself there are good helps in both your manual and our website. I would also suggest you visit our new TECH TALK page. To advise specifically we need to know the model and serial numbers including those found on the drive. The alternative is to send it to us.

Chris Gade
Customer Service
----- Original Message -----
From: XXXX@aol.com
To: YYYY@alphamarinesystems.com
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 5:48 AM
Subject: 3000 series autopilot


Good Morning!

I have a 1982 Lord Nelson 41 (full keel, about 35,000 lbs displacement loaded) that has an Alpha 3000 autopilot that appears to be as old as the boat. I can get the serial number if needed, but won't be back to the boat for a couple of weeks. The logs from the previous owner indicates the drive was replaced around 1997. Last summer the autopilot developed a mind of its own and would initiate un commanded turns to random headings. After contacting your technical department I cleaned and tightened all the connections but the problem persisted. It works fine with the remote helm however.

Given the units age and our plans to start cruising offshore extensively in a couple of years I was looking for your recommendation as how to proceed if I want to stay with the Alpha product. I see from your website you offer upgrades to existing 3000 series pilots, an improved fluxgate compass and/or a discount on new pilots.

I am looking for your advise as to the best way to proceed, and the cost, to have a reliable pilot for many years to come.

Mike
S/V Fair Wind
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:51   #12
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Charlie,

My recommendation is to send the entire pilot back to Alpha and have them fix it. You have some sort of intermittent electrical problem which is either in the unit, the ram feedback sensors or the control head. Intermittent problems are a bitch to find and why it works and then stops and then may work again.

A new pilot will cost you serious change. I would get them to diagnose the pilot while the boat is laid up and if the repairs are reasonable, including perhaps some upgrades, I'd stick with the Alpha 3000. I have had very good performance with mine for 10's of thousands of miles.

The "weak" part of the design is also its strength - the morse cable engage/disengage system. The system provides complete disengagement - no friction or drag on the helm, but it is a morse cable an prone to fatigue and failure. I've replaced mine once or twice in 22 years and keep a spare.

Many people have excellent results with this piliot so you should consider a repair before you toss it over board. And if you do toss it overboard, please contact me about getting the old parts.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:27   #13
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Def def the reason I tried to keep it around is b/c of the reputation that Alpha has as being a very reliable AP. I have not had that experience. I've spent enough money upgrading and repairing this unit to buy a half of a new one. I will contact you if I decide to gt rid of the unit. A working AP makes sailing alot easier.
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Fair Winds,

Charlie

Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:39   #14
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I have a below decks linear drive Raymarine. It is on its original drive, its second compass, its third CPU and second display. I do not consider it one of the most trustworthy pieces of equipment on the boat.

Paul L
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