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Old 15-06-2019, 20:40   #1
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Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Ahoy sailors,

I have an Autohelm ST4000+ on my boat.

Lately, we ventured out of SF Bay and are now doing weekend passages along the California coast (working during the week so leaving the boat on moorings and/or marinas along the way, to catch up the following weekend). Our plan is to gradually make it down to San Diego and maybe Ensenada.

Earlier this morning we left Morro Bay for Santa Barbara. When the winds got past 20 knots and swells reached 8-9 ft, autopilot bailed out. We were going downwind. It didn't entirely bail out but stopped steering properly (made some occasional noises and started losing track). I certainly didn't want to pass Point Conception in the dark without a reliable autopilot so we headed into Port San Luis and picked up a mooring, writing this from the mooring. I took the wheel drive apart but couldn't see anything visibly broken. Now I am debating between the options I have:

I can either buy a St4000mk2/St4000+ wheel drive to replace the one I have, keeping everything else (the head unit, compass etc). The one I have is probably older than the one I can buy (mine is black, the one being sold is gray). This alone costs about $500. Or I can give up on my existing autopilot entirely and go for a Raymarine EV-100 Wheel Drive. Entire set is about $1300. I can probably sell my existing ST4000+ set for $250-$350 so the delta is about $500 and of course there is the installation, running new cables etc.

I read in numerous forums that the gears in EV-100 are plastic and break down easily. Our boat is not heavy displacement (11,300 lb / 5,126 kg) so not sure how big of a deal this is. Gears in my ST4000+ drive are brass. Overall, I have not been overly happy with my autopilot.

Any opinions on either of these options?

Thank you.
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Old 15-06-2019, 20:57   #2
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Autopilots, the wheel steered ones, are notorious for not being ale to control sailing downwind. This article was written two decades ago!!!

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My friend who wrote it designs autopilots.

Not much has changed since then, although I'll get arguments about that, and expect to.

However, the reports on the internet, from this and other boating forums, are that the EV-100 is a VAST improvement over earlier models.

Another choice is that almost everyone who installed a below decks autopilot raves about them.

There are also the CPT advocates, with good reason because of the strength of the motor. I've met the owners, great guys.

Those are your choices.

What boat do you have?
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Old 15-06-2019, 21:00   #3
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
What boat do you have?
Thanks Stu Jackson. I have a Catalina 320.

If I forego the wheel drive, how complicated would it be to install something downbelow?
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Old 15-06-2019, 21:11   #4
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenedos View Post
Thanks Stu Jackson. I have a Catalina 320.

If I forego the wheel drive, how complicated would it be to install something downbelow?

Nice boat!

I forgot to mention I sailed SF Bay for 18 years with a (please sit down) an ST-3000. I still have it and sailed up the coast here in 2016 with it. It electronically failed north of Newport, IR, the halfway mark, and we sent it to Durango to Dan Gerhardt who fixed it and sent us back to our new home in BC on Vancouver Island.

Every Catalina model has an owners association and most of them have good websites. They are usually found with www.catalina320.org or .com. Most of the better assoc websites have forums like this one. I write a lot for Mainsheet magazine which you receive as an association member and I don't doubt that someone with a C320 has already done it and written it up.

Give them a try, 'cuz each of our Catalinas are different regarding access.

I loved sailing SF to Monterey or Drakes Bay. Dawn out of HMB to SC was always great.

Then I went a tad further, north. If you're interested:

I've posted our log (with charts & photos) here:

Travels with Aquavite: San Francsico Bay to British Columbia 2016

Photos are under each of the months' tabs, click on the month to expand to see the photo listings


All the best.
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Old 16-06-2019, 08:27   #5
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

I had your dilemma and choose the new 100. It was very easy to install requiring only 2 electrical connections. I got it in November from defender with a nice discount and a $200 rebate. The problem was that when I installed it, it could not find the wheel pilot. Even though the complete unit came in one box. I hired a marine electrician to check everything out. $280 later he told me it was installed correctly (Yea me) but it had mixed software. Sent it back To Raymarine for a software upgrade. You can do this yourself if you have a Raymarine Chartplotter (I don't). Received everything back and reinstalled but the wheel pilot split apart and pooped a bunch of ball bearings. Back to Raymarine. Came back again and fell apart again. Back to Raymarine. Finally, have it installed and it seems to work OK but I only have about 20 hours on it. I don't know how you check the software before you install.
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Old 16-06-2019, 08:29   #6
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

If the gears are brass, I suspect that the housing is black.

I believe that you can keep that and just connect up the rest of the EV-1.

Iím installing an EV-1 now and the cable is the same to the drive motor. Other forums have said that the MK1, which is what I believe you have, is highly valued and plug compatible Ė but this is just what I read.
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Old 16-06-2019, 08:44   #7
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Having used ST4000GP for many many years (and still do) I have come to love and trust that device, HOWEVER it is very light duty for the conditions you describe. We have had to replace the drive unit parodically. Now we carry a spare drive unit AND we use a windvane virtually all the time when we are sailing. We would not engage that ST4000 in the wind and waves you describe.

A below deck autopilot, with heavier duty drive unit, would be more durable but the EV-100 in my opinion does not include a beefier drive unit. The price alone tells you this is a light duty solution.
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Old 16-06-2019, 09:09   #8
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Have had a black and now a grey st4000 on my Catalina 36 since 1994 They are both under powered. Check the weight of your boat fully loaded and the load rating of the AP. Go with the below deck rudder post model and you will be happy. It’s worth the money.
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Old 16-06-2019, 09:10   #9
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

After spending all the time and money installing an EV 100; I found that its alarm could not be heard if not sitting directly in front of the display. Second Raymarine product with this deficiency. Never again.

Highly recommend that you investigate a below deck Coursemaster. When your life is on the line; only the best of the best.
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Old 16-06-2019, 09:42   #10
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Raymarine and I do not get along. 2 out of 5 products worked as advertised. I40 depth is erratic and not to be trusted. I40 wind with Rotovector never worked despite 2X being sent back to Raymarine. 4000+ autopilot would never steer a straight course on a Pearson 28 despite hours on the phone with "support". The I40 knotmeter works as advertised. Fortunately the EV 100 has worked well. That said, it will not keep up with substantial quartering seas. I do recommend the EV100. The boat is 15K shoal keel with an enlarged Hydodynamically balanced rudder.
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Old 16-06-2019, 10:02   #11
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

I had an ST4000+ that never really worked very well for me, couldn't hold a track, was never very reliable. I tried lots of different things (including moving the fluxgate compass) and it never helped.

I eventually upgraded to the EV100 and have been MUCH happier with it... it really is a vast improvement over the ST4000+. However, I had heard the same complaints about the wheel drive itself not being very durable so what I ended up doing was keeping the existing wheel drive and upgrading all the other components. I figure I still have the "new" wheel drive I can install if the old one craps out, but since I had a drive that was working and maybe more durable than the new ones I left it on there and just replaced the rest of the system.

The install is not super complicated but does take a little while, especially if you're networking your other instruments together. I like the network because I can now have a wireless remote control for the pilot at the helm (main control head is indoors down below at the indoor steering station) so I can control the pilot at either steering station on our pilothouse AND that remote gives me depth and speed (both of those are also down below) at the outdoor helm.

While much more robust IMO than the ST4000+ fluxgate compass, the EV100 control head IS susceptible to magnetic interference so still be careful when doing install and afterwards (I put my tablet - with a little magnet that holds the case closed - on top of the cabinet the control head was installed in and the autopilot went totally nuts).

FWIW I did not (yet) install a rudder reference transducer, I've heard that helps make the pilot more precise but so far I've been doing OK without it.

All of the above is just to say I like the EV100 much better than the ST4000+, if I had the money I still would have preferred a true below decks autopilot over wheel steering but couldn't justify the cost.
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Old 16-06-2019, 10:14   #12
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

I have a Catalina 36 1984. Got my EV100 package in 2016 and installed it. I can say it was a self install. The only issue I had was it was over-correcting half the time. I named her "the drunk". 20 degrees to starboard....20 degrees to port...she staggered like a drunk sailor walking down the sidewalk after leaving the bar.

Then I added a Rudder Reference Unit. All of this is networked with my wind gear, HD radar and Garmin chart plotter.

WORKS GOOD NOW. But the rudder reference unit saved the day.

Prior post is correct...in following seas auto pilots struggle regardless.

The auto pilot's new name, BTW, is "Sober Sally" or Sally for short.
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Old 16-06-2019, 11:21   #13
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Get a cpt autopilot. I have one and love it. Its very strong a reliable. Super simple to use as well.
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Old 16-06-2019, 22:45   #14
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Most important thing with pilots is the correct size. Many seem to overestimate capabilities but only a heavyweight below deck hydraulic or electricly driven ram will be reliable offshore. You don't have to have system. I have a Raymarine computer and head plus an octipus pump and they work fine together. So upgrade the drive and pump or ram and keep the head.
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Old 17-06-2019, 14:29   #15
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Re: Raymarine EV 100 Wheel vs ST4000+

Your in The Pacific Ocean ! Look at a CPT auto pilot. Thats the real deal . Holds a course when wheel units just cant . No sense spending good hard earned money that doing the job again over in 5 years. Because the wheel one will not hold a course downwind ! Ask around
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