I searched and searched for this solution until I created it myself with the help of some others from these boards.
I thought I would share these photos for anyone wanting to use their autotiller autopilot
on a wheel
steered vessel. The reasons for such a rig are numerous and include upgrading from a smaller tiller steered boat or having a backup to a dedicated wheel autohelm
on the cheap
. The autohelm
works well on the wheel though range of motion is limited it is able to steer a well-balanced boat without difficulty. So far I have used it for 30 minute stints in 15 knot
breezes close hauled and beam reached as well as under motor
. I increased the rudder
gain on my raymarine
st1000+ to "7" from the "4" that I used when it was on a tiller so that it would make enough adjustments to not need to turn the wheel a lot given its relatively small stroke. I'm using it on a San Juan
28 with a displacement
of approximately 6500lbs and lots of sail area.
Attaching it to the wheel is simple. Take a piece of wood and attach it to the wheel with u-bolts (stainless steel
from lowes or home depot). Then install the autohelm tiller pin as pictured in the center of the wood. Make sure that the wood is angled so that when it is going towards the autohelm it will not interefe with the body of the autohelm. Then come up with some way to attach the autohelm body to your boat. I opted for a simple system that is quick to take down using some line and a shaped piece of wood that interfaces with my binnacle cup holders.
Keep in mind that the autohelm needs to attach to the top half of the wheel for it to think its going in the right direction. Also, for those needing a new autotiller thimble (where the autohelm body attached to the boat), you can get them at lowes for $2 instead of paying raymarine
$20 -- they are standard 3/8" inner diameter bushings. Also, the tiller connectors are available from westmarine in a pack of 5 for $10.