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Old 17-04-2012, 15:19   #1
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Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

My venerable Autohelm 6000 is no longer going into "AUTO" mode... checked all the wires, and decided it is a "computer" issue... Otto is 25 years old and I'm not going to put any $$ into him...

I see Raymarine and Garmin seem to be the only real players in the small sailboat market...... How about some feedback from members before I plunk down $4K?
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Old 17-04-2012, 15:33   #2
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by capngeo View Post
My venerable Autohelm 6000 is no longer going into "AUTO" mode... checked all the wires, and decided it is a "computer" issue... Otto is 25 years old and I'm not going to put any $$ into him...

I see Raymarine and Garmin seem to be the only real players in the small sailboat market...... How about some feedback from members before I plunk down $4K?
huh?! those would be my very last choices. How about Simrad AP28 or the new B&G? (the same and interchangeable I understand). The size of the boat decides on which core pack and drive unit to select, not a brand.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 17-04-2012, 15:35   #3
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I have the Raymarine ST70 SmartPilot X-10 w/Linear drive. Love it so far . Installed it about a year ago and no problems thus far.
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Old 17-04-2012, 15:48   #4
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I brought a CPT for about half what you're considering. Haven't used it that much but it basically does what it should.

The wheel mounted drive unit looks and feels very sturdy with lots of power. Drives barn door rudder on a 15 tonne 44' no worries. I did have to have the steering serviced though.

The drive belt can slip if the tension is not just right. They sell a belt tensioner which I may end up getting.

The "optical compass" has the odd hiccup (on a steel boat) but mostly does the right thing. Does remind me of the need to keep watch!

I usually unbolt it and take it home if not being used (and round Sydney that's most of the time).

My number two gripe is that the compass is permanently connected to the drive unit. Something about good electrical connections. If I get annoyed enough I'll probably put a plug in somewhere.
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Old 17-04-2012, 16:04   #5
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Raymarine X5's going on sixth season and all those Northern WI winters with no maintenance or performance problems. My boat's an old 34 foot, 10,500 pound IOR design and is notoriously twitchy dowwind. Otto has handled it up to Force 5 (maybe 6?) and the book says he can drive up to 16,000 lbs+/-.
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Old 17-04-2012, 16:05   #6
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

My Autohelm 6000 died(or so I thought) I thought the control head died, found a bad splice after removing old wiring.
So one, I have possible good components,
Two, I installed a Garmin GHP 12 driving my old Raytheon type 1 drive unit(plan is to upgrade later with hydraulic unit), Autopilot works fantastic, total cost less than 2k.

Cheers
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Old 17-04-2012, 16:14   #7
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

W-H P3C Autopilot.

IMHO, it's the only game in town for a robust autopilot which can handle large and small boats, power and sail. A heavy favorite of the fishing fleet in the NW Pacific.

Great support.

New W-H P-3C Autopilot

See both pages. Click twice on each pic for full resolution.

Give Will Hamm a call -- he answers personally any time of day.

Bill
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Old 17-04-2012, 16:45   #8
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I have had good performance and service support from Alpha. I have had the Alpha 3000 for 20 yrs! Ocean crossing as well.

I like that you dial the heading with a large rotary dial which is very intuitive.
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Old 17-04-2012, 17:25   #9
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Have had 2 boats with Raymarine AP. The first with a wheel drive unit and the wheel drive was the problem. The current with a beow decks type unit (even though it really is in the pedestral) with a rotary chain drive. My current unit steered the boat great all last year even with the lock on (that seems a good strong AP in my mind)!
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Old 17-04-2012, 17:29   #10
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
I brought a CPT for about half what you're considering. Haven't used it that much but it basically does what it should.

The wheel mounted drive unit looks and feels very sturdy with lots of power. Drives barn door rudder on a 15 tonne 44' no worries. I did have to have the steering serviced though.

The drive belt can slip if the tension is not just right. They sell a belt tensioner which I may end up getting.

The "optical compass" has the odd hiccup (on a steel boat) but mostly does the right thing. Does remind me of the need to keep watch!

I usually unbolt it and take it home if not being used (and round Sydney that's most of the time).

My number two gripe is that the compass is permanently connected to the drive unit. Something about good electrical connections. If I get annoyed enough I'll probably put a plug in somewhere.
I bought the same unit, it works well. Very simple, point and go....
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Old 17-04-2012, 19:22   #11
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I have been asking the same question for a couple of years and reading everything I can find and every users report of how they like their pilots.

Have to go with Nick on the Simrad as the top of the line but there are a couple of others that are possible options that are a little cheaper and I think as reliable and well built but perhaps not as smart.

The WH is known to be a bullet proof commercial grade unit used by a lot of west coast fisherman. Company also has a pretty good rep for support.

The Alpha autopilot is also known to be very reliable and also very low power draw but have heard some complaints about parts and repairs.
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Old 17-04-2012, 20:46   #12
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

i like the cpt autopilot too. used it all last summer and it did a pretty good job. be sure to read the manual as it offers some good advice on how to set the controls for different sea states. also applies to different boat types and different points of sail.

my boat is 37 feet and 20000 lbs. the cpt has more than enough power to steer it. probably the strongest wheel mounted autopilot out there. and the price is certainly right. plus the guys who run the company are engineers and will talk to you on the phone about any concerns you have. easily installed by the owner.
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Old 17-04-2012, 21:09   #13
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

+1 for the WH autopilot. Once installed they are rock solid. Not fancy just reliable.
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Old 17-04-2012, 21:44   #14
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
huh?! those would be my very last choices. How about Simrad AP28 or the new B&G? (the same and interchangeable I understand). The size of the boat decides on which core pack and drive unit to select, not a brand.

ciao!
Nick.
Just do what Jedi said, and be done with it.
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Old 18-04-2012, 00:16   #15
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

If you drive is still Ok you can replace the control head , computer , compass and rudder sensor with a Comnav 1420 kit . . Did this with my old WH and is outperforms the WH with half the current draw. Sitex autopilots are Comnav with different cosmetics.
Comnav makes commercial gear for the fishing fleet solid stuff
My kit cost around $900 for the whole works with all the above mentioned parts

Excellent support and advice on their help line .
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