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Old 10-06-2018, 06:59   #1
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Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

Autopilot Working Again

I just returned from a single handed trip to the Bahamas (from Baltimore MD). I have had problems with my 3 year old Raymarine EV-1 autopilot for the last 2 years and several times almost damaged the boat because of it. I'm writing this to describe what I've finally done to fix the problem. Right up front, I'll state I AM a fan of Raymarine autopilots. The EV-1 is my second autopilot and they are wonderful devices. However, I do consider the problem I'll describe below a design problem that they should own up to.

First, the problem. The autopilot clutch disengages without warning. This usually happens when I'm in a following sea when the pilot is making more significant steering changes to stay on course (when the boat is yawing). The clutch lever will tighten when the wheel turns to starboard and will loosen when the wheel turn to port. It will sometimes make several small turns back and forth (disengaging a little at a time) or one large turn to fully disengage. I have lost my steering on numerous occasions, sometimes jibing (I know, I should have had a jibe preventer rigged).

Another issue I've had is the wheel squeaking every time it changes direction. This has been very annoying and I've concluded is another symptom of the same (disengaging) problem.

During my trip, I called Raymarine and spoke with their expert, Lee. He was helpful and sent me photos. However, all his advice was related to cleanliness and belt tentioning of the wheel unit. As it turns out, that was not the problem.

I spent hours disassembling and adjusting the belt tension. I believed (and still believe) that the belt is too small in diameter. With the adjustment completely detentioned, the belt was too tight.

This last week, I removed the wheel pilot and brought it home. I completely disassembled the unit - removed the two eccentric wheels (one for the clutch lever and one for the belt tension adjustment), and the belt. It did not appear that anything was out of adjustment or broken. I called Lee again. I sent him a photo showing the correct position of the nylon plate for the fully detentioned belt adjustment. After looking at my photo, he called me back and I insisted that the belt was either too small or something needed lubrication. It was only after that that he suggested I remove the black rubber belts from the nylon eccentric wheels and apply some lubrication to the INSIDE of the belts.

After I did this, I took the unit back to the boat, installed it, and went for a sea trial. For the first time in two years, the unit does not squeak, it is much easier to manually engage, and it stays engaged with both small and large course changes.

My recommendation to Raymarine would be to remove the instructions about flushing the unit with fresh water after every use (do they really think anyone would do this?) and to add instructions to lubricate the outside of the nylon eccentrics/inside of the eccentric belts. Lee recommended using only a small amount of lubricant and to NOT lubricate either side of the large drive belt. I'd also recommend they give this advice to every one of their technical advisers.

Note: the attached photo shows the plate at the base of the nylon eccentric for belt adjustment against the pin of the housing. This is the correct position for minimum belt tension.
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Old 10-06-2018, 07:17   #2
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Re: Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

Great post and as an EV 100 owner your advice is noted, thanks
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Old 11-06-2018, 18:03   #3
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Re: Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

I have a new auto pilot, raymarine and am learning how to use it so very interesting comments. I also saw the instructions to flush after use. I have used it at least 10 times, flushed 0.
Your comment on lubricant. Lubricate on the inside of the belt. Where the toothed part of the belt is?

Thanks. Just installed the rudder indicator and it seems to be more responsive to waves.
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Old 12-06-2018, 04:32   #4
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Re: Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

Lubricate the inside of the small (2" dia.) belts (two of them). Lee warned against lubricating the back side of the large toothed belt and I assume that is because you would not want any lubricant to get on the toothed side of the belt. That side of the belt engages with the teeth on the drive motor wheel but there are no teeth on the large drive wheel. If any lubricant gets on that wheel, the drive belt could slip.
I don't think it matters whether you lube the outside of the white plastic/nylon eccentric wheels or the inside of the black belts. I felt it was easier to control the amount of lubricant by putting it on the inside of the belt. I used lanolin as the lubricant. I asked Lee what to use and he said the type of lubricant was not important.
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Old 16-06-2018, 17:14   #5
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Re: Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

Do you mean the two small round plastic rings that are placed over the clutch and tension ecentrics?..apply some lube on the inside of these yes?
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Old 16-06-2018, 17:41   #6
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Re: Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

Any particular lubricant recommended?
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Old 17-06-2018, 05:02   #7
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Re: Raymarine autopilot disengages by itself (FIX FOR)

Please re-read my 12/6 post. Answers to both your questions are given there. There are two eccentric nylon parts that are about 1.5" in diameter. There is a black belt on each. This belt makes contact with the large drive belt. Applying the lube to the INSIDE of the black belt lets it slip against the nylon wheels.
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