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Old 09-02-2013, 09:57   #1
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Angry Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

I would like to hear from X5 owners about the reliability of the plastic gearcase inside the tiller ram for the X5. I was out in moderate seas and the tiller drive fell on the floor in half, sheared off due to plastic fatigue. Inspection of the gearcase revealed very little meat inside the housing, and I am not surprised it failed to steer my barn door for the few hours it did. Other issues. The display had been reading "mot stall"... I misread this as hot stall for a while, thinking the course computer software had jammed for some reason. I look in both the manuals for the error message. There is no reference to any stall of any kind. However an internet search did show a motor stall message means the motor is jammed for some reason, usually excess resistance in the tiller. Not the case here. After checking connections I find the message is displayed if the elec plug contacts are corroded. Dielectric grease.
I am trying to troll and singlehand. I glance at the instructions to adjust something to stop it from hunting in microincrements. All I see is "response" adjustment( "the only adjustment you will ever normally need"), which I quickly lower all the way to 1. The boat holds course fine and I have a large dorado leaping out of the water. I think maybe the computer can learn to stop hyperactivating the ram and jerking the tiller arm. Later I see in troubleshooting, that gain should be set to minumum possible, presumably to lessen fast torque loads on their POS chinese plastic gearcase. Ok chinese budget nylon.
I think a few points can be made here. My boat only weighs 13k laden, and has an unbalanced barn door tiller. Judging from the amount of effort required to hold a course in a rolling sea, under power or sail, this ram is woefully underengineered. I would never trust it with my life again.
The owners literature is incomplete and confusing. I believe they wanted to distinguish the X5 from the previous generation of autopilots with the feedback loop adjustment, which was a real pain, from what I hear. In the process they fail to mention the gain along with the response in the owners manual (gain is mentioned in the setup), two adjustments which are evidently interdependent. The statement "normally make" is BS. Sailors need to change the settings for condtions, period. Please define normally on a sailboat. Daily? Yearly? WTF? This tiny plastic differential is the only thing between me and a collision or loss of control?
And its supposed to support how many FT/LBS at the rudder? After how many thousand twisting and pulling microcorrections of a 13k lb sailing yacht yawing in five foot seas, (the unit cracked while the main was reefed). Obviously the thing has to sustain twisting torque, its a gearcase for a worm and sector. After reading a few blogs, I see more failure reports of all types, chief of which is water penetration and subsequent short. No mention in the literature about protecting the ram from moisture, or being sure to grease the plug (which should be anticorrosive anyway)Further reading shows the real cost of the parts in the ram to be under $100, they are just asian crap, regardless of where they are assembled.
I see a pattern here. Raymarine is a big multinational corporation outsourcing their product to asia for profit and does not even spend the money to write their manuals correctly, like any other cutrate chinese product. The chinese manufacturer spends a few dollars less on substandard nylon for profit. Raymarine recently changed their warranty policy dramatically evidently in response to customer dissatisfaction. I have read reports of West Marine ransacking on the shelf units for parts out of stock. This is not behavior associated with a name like Raymarine
? Or is it?
The product is well designed, just underengineered, and Raymarine is trying too hard to squeeze out their bottom line. Also from what I read their customer service is tenuous, lets see. There is at least one fellow out there who has broken three of the plastic gearcases. In mine, the gears were fine, just the case broke. I would like to hear from any owners experiencing problems with the X5.
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Old 09-02-2013, 14:33   #2
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Grand Prix? Or regular?
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:44   #3
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Re: Raymarine X5 tiller autopilot blown gearcase

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Originally Posted by sonAdmiralson View Post
I would like to hear from X5 owners about the reliability of the plastic gearcase inside the tiller ram for the X5. I was out in moderate seas and the tiller drive fell on the floor in half, sheared off due to plastic fatigue. Inspection of the gearcase revealed very little meat inside the housing, and I am not surprised it failed to steer my barn door for the few hours it did. Other issues. The display had been reading "mot stall"... I misread this as hot stall for a while, thinking the course computer software had jammed for some reason. I look in both the manuals for the error message. There is no reference to any stall of any kind. However an internet search did show a motor stall message means the motor is jammed for some reason, usually excess resistance in the tiller.
(Correct Raymarine does not know what raise that alarm obviously they are not privy to the detail of the software. To me Motor Stall alarm is raised when there is a discrepancy between the rate of turn giro and the rate of turn off the boat, if the giro does not sense a change off direction when applying the rudder.)
Not the case here. After checking connections I find the message is displayed if the elec plug contacts are corroded. Dielectric grease.
I am trying to troll and singlehand. I glance at the instructions to adjust something to stop it from hunting in microincrements. All I see is "response" adjustment( "the only adjustment you will ever normally need"), which I quickly lower all the way to 1.
( That should reduce the hunting. In my view by reducing the amount off influence from the Rate Gyro)
The boat holds course fine and I have a large dorado leaping out of the water. I think maybe the computer can learn to stop hyperactivating the ram and jerking the tiller arm. Later I see in troubleshooting, that gain should be set to minumum possible, presumably to lessen fast torque loads on their POS chinese plastic gearcase. Ok chinese budget nylon.
I think a few points can be made here. My boat only weighs 13k laden, and has an unbalanced barn door tiller. Judging from the amount of effort required to hold a course in a rolling sea, under power or sail, this ram is woefully underengineered.
(check the specifications and warning about the load that the ram is designed to handle. My boat is 14000kg plus and after many years of use I am surprised of how strong this “regular” ram is. I also carry two spare, one GP and one “Regular”. You may have bought a faulty drive, claim warranty on it.)
I would never trust it with my life again.
(You should never trust it with your life, an autopilot must be at all time supervised)
The owners literature is incomplete and confusing.
(not to me if it is for the inexistent Motor Stall alarm)
I believe they wanted to distinguish the X5 from the previous generation of autopilots with the feedback loop adjustment, which was a real pain, from what I hear. In the process they fail to mention the gain along with the response in the owners manual (gain is mentioned in the setup), two adjustments which are evidently interdependent.
(normally the Seatrial and Autolearn features of the XP5 should sort out the adjustments)
The statement "normally make" is BS. Sailors need to change the settings for condtions
(anytime the conditions change then response should be adjusted, may be after each tack)
, period. Please define normally on a sailboat. Daily? Yearly? WTF? This tiny plastic differential is the only thing between me and a collision or loss of control?

(You are in command, not the tiny plastic)
And its supposed to support how many FT/LBS at the rudder?
(this is in the literature)
After how many thousand twisting and pulling microcorrections of a 13k lb sailing yacht yawing in five foot seas, (the unit cracked while the main was reefed). Obviously the thing has to sustain twisting torque, its a gearcase for a worm and sector. After reading a few blogs, I see more failure reports of all types, chief of which is water penetration and subsequent short. No mention in the literature about protecting the ram from moisture, or being sure to grease the plug (which should be anticorrosive anyway)
(I never greased the plug. An O ring prevent water ingress into the coupling. Replacement O rings are available as parts from Raymarine)
Further reading shows the real cost of the parts in the ram to be under $100, they are just asian crap, regardless of where they are assembled.
I see a pattern here. Raymarine is a big multinational corporation outsourcing their product to asia for profit
(or to keep the price down)
and does not even spend the money to write their manuals correctly
(for some models there is so many frequent upgrades that it is impossible to keep the manuals up to date but for what I know the XP5 manual is all right)
, like any other cutrate chinese product. The chinese manufacturer spends a few dollars less on substandard nylon for profit. Raymarine recently changed their warranty policy dramatically evidently in response to customer dissatisfaction. I have read reports of West Marine ransacking on the shelf units for parts out of stock. This is not behavior associated with a name like Raymarine
? Or is it?
The product is well designed, just underengineered, and Raymarine is trying too hard to squeeze out their bottom line. Also from what I read their customer service is tenuous, lets see. There is at least one fellow out there who has broken three of the plastic gearcases. In mine, the gears were fine, just the case broke. I would like to hear from any owners experiencing problems with the X5.
Not what you like to hear but I found the X5 all right, definitely an improvement on the ST4000. How recent is yours X5?
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Old 10-02-2013, 17:05   #4
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Re: Raymarine X5 tiller autopilot blown gearcase

The X5 is at its design maximum with a 13,000# boat. Probably even over limit if you have a barn door rudder as the force required to move the rudder at speed is the real determining factor. When I installed the X5 wheel pilot on my boat, picked up from reading the instructions that I might have to adjust the sensitivity to meet different sea conditions. Didn't have to as the as delivered settings worked fine under power as that is all I used the A/P for. I'd advise you to get a self steering vane if you want truly reliable steering performance under sail. The pendulum servo vanes work especially well with tiller steering. should be able to find a used Monitor, Aries, etc for around $1,500.00.

I've been trying to figure out whether to spend the significantly more bucks for the Grand Prix tiller pilot. From what I've been able to figure out, the difference is in the robustness of the gearing in the tiller control arm. The advertized pounds of force for both the standard and Grand Prix is supposedly the same. Guess you just made up my mind for me as my boat also has a barn door rudder that would stall out the wheel pilot under brisk sail when I had the wheel.
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Old 10-02-2013, 17:14   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
The X5 is at its design maximum with a 13,000# boat. Probably even over limit if you have a barn door rudder as the force required to move the rudder at speed is the real determining factor. When I installed the X5 wheel pilot on my boat, picked up from reading the instructions that I might have to adjust the sensitivity to meet different sea conditions. Didn't have to as the as delivered settings worked fine under power as that is all I used the A/P for. I'd advise you to get a self steering vane if you want truly reliable steering performance under sail. The pendulum servo vanes work especially well with tiller steering. should be able to find a used Monitor, Aries, etc for around $1,500.00.

I've been trying to figure out whether to spend the significantly more bucks for the Grand Prix tiller pilot. From what I've been able to figure out, the difference is in the robustness of the gearing in the tiller control arm. The advertized pounds of force for both the standard and Grand Prix is supposedly the same. Guess you just made up my mind for me as my boat also has a barn door rudder that would stall out the wheel pilot under brisk sail when I had the wheel.
I picked up a new X-5 Tiller GP on eBay for $790. Yes, you read that right. Best investment I've made on this boat. After a year of constant use, I've had no problems except for a brittle mounting tab on the fluxgate that crumbled when I installed it. Raymarine replaced the compass under warranty, knowing it was an eBay purchase. So far, I'm a happy guy (knocking on wood).
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:13   #6
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

I opened this thread because I saw a pattern in Raymarines marketing. Its a big corporation and they have a new product they expect to sell a lot of at big profit. Pretty soon many sailboats will have pushbutton steering. . They are changing the software so fast they cant be held liable for omissions it the literature? So I fork over more than 2gs and they cant provide the customer with accurate materials? The product is launched and relaunched. There is a recall. The warranty is made more flexible. The installation wiring is wrong, "on some models". So, whats really happening, is, what...
I looked at the broken plastic gear drive and still cannot explain why it cracked except for because... its plastic and less than .25" thick. The rudder only takes a few ft lbs to turn, perhaps ten under loads. I saw the ram motor jerking back and forth on it like it was on Ritalin. NO wonder. Raymarine is so big its like a government. They need to keep up appearances and not admit fault, yet this line of tiller drives has been a mess since day one. Its the same as the X5, and the previous model with the rudder reference. We the consumer will never know the real story. I need to know why it broke so it doesnt happen again or I am in trouble.
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:14   #7
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

I have a smartpilot X5 Wheelpilot on my Moody 36 (approx 9500kg). It will not hold course in anything except calm seas no matter what the sensitivity settings. Without warning it will stop steering the boat on course and head off in its own direction. I have still to find the cause. A marine electronics company suggested I fit the Raymarine rudder position sensor but I thought the whole idea of the X5 was that feedback was not required.
The boat has a skeg hung rudder with Whitlock quadrant wire steering that moves through its full arc without any trouble manually. Luckily I also have a Hydrovane that is a magic piece of kit.
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:31   #8
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

thrust is advertised. as up to 185 lbs, that is such bs. The ram might be able to generate it, but the plastic differential wont survive it. Its the same ram as the GP, the SPX5, and the older one with the reference. Im going to take a picture of to two broken pieces of plastic with a quarter for scale and after that no one will buy it. This tiller drive is suitable for daysailing boats only.Buyer beware until the next improvment cycle. Judging from the amount of hype, and Raymarine internet hacks minutely defending whatever product, they want to protect their customer base. Im waiting since early friday for an email response from their cust service.
Now I remember a few minutes previous to the failure the wind changed direction significantly for a moment, stalling the boat. Must have been then that the thing went blarny. If that motor can generate 185 lbs, its no mystery it snapped. I think the plastic
+ was engineered into the system to be the mechanical point of sacrafice, so they dont go breaking rudder stock. My tiller would only handle perhaps 18 lbs its so old and dry, just frail wood. I have two other spare tillers below. Any claim that the ram is out of its design parameters with a 13,000 lb boat and a barn door rudder are bunk. What happened is that the software spazzed the plastic to death with no applicable warning in the literature. I want parts and service and there is 0 in the Bahamas. I saw it move violently in all directions, with the software on the default setting. Thanks for the input from owners
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:28   #9
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

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Originally Posted by sonAdmiralson View Post
Now I remember a few minutes previous to the failure the wind changed direction significantly for a moment, stalling the boat. Must have been then that the thing went blarny.
So problem solved, take care of the autopilot and it should last well. You did not say how old is the unit. The unit that I use seems to have a mechanical overload when at end of travel. When this happen I quickly switch the autopilot to standby it is one of the reason why the autopilot should be supervised.

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I have a smartpilot X5 Wheelpilot on my Moody 36 (approx 9500kg). It will not hold course in anything except calm seas no matter what the sensitivity settings. Without warning it will stop steering the boat on course and head off in its own direction. I have still to find the cause.
Make sure the fluxgate compass operate properly, when turning in a large circle observe the compass reading. The reading should be smooth, showing every consecutive degree. Anything else and the compass may need swinging again or relocated. In the track mode depending of the sea condition, the computer may take a long time to calculate a new heading. I have no problem with the X5 and it will steer the boat 90% of the time, when rarely it work to hard I take over. Nothing better than a little of practice.

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
I've been trying to figure out whether to spend the significantly more bucks for the Grand Prix tiller pilot. From what I've been able to figure out, the difference is in the robustness of the gearing in the tiller control arm.
The motor is different, a high tech thing, if the ram jam the motor seize and need replacing. To replace in 2005 the price quoted was over $1000.00 for the motor only and apparently cannot be interchanged with a classic motor, different gearing. The ram drive in the picture was manufactured in August 1993.
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Old 13-02-2013, 07:48   #10
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

Ok I am closing the thread after Raymarine covered the problem under warranty. They were very professional.
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Old 14-02-2013, 21:03   #11
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

I have an RM X5 on a 10000 lb vessel with a modern rudder and a fin keel. I used the x5 to steer about 2000 miles of a 5000 mile round trip, SF to Kauai and back. The X5 eventually sheered a spring clip that retains the stainless steering tube. The unit was easily repaired. A side note, a electric reversing RM hydraulic pump, type 1, drove about 4000 miles of the same trip. It had an additional 1000 miles on it. That motor failed shortly after arrival, the motor brushes have gone bad. Both motors were used at the highest response settings to keep up with the spinnaker in use.

Brian
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Old 18-02-2013, 00:52   #12
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

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Ok I am closing the thread after Raymarine covered the problem under warranty. They were very professional.
Great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonAdmiralson View Post
I saw a pattern
Now you can also add “professionalism” to the pattern.

Raymarine used to be “good sport”. It is re-comforting that they can still afford to be good sport. Hope they can also afford to fix the software of their “new series mfd’s” and it will be good sailing for all.

You seem to be handy with torque. The “JPEG” from Vetus should let you ascertain how suitable your rudder is to the ram drive. Some drive makers find the formula too conservative. I tested it and find it accurate.
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Old 19-02-2013, 08:41   #13
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

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I have an RM X5 on a 10000 lb vessel with a modern rudder and a fin keel. I used the x5 to steer about 2000 miles of a 5000 mile round trip, SF to Kauai and back. The X5 eventually sheered a spring clip that retains the stainless steering tube. The unit was easily repaired. A side note, a electric reversing RM hydraulic pump, type 1, drove about 4000 miles of the same trip. It had an additional 1000 miles on it. That motor failed shortly after arrival, the motor brushes have gone bad. Both motors were used at the highest response settings to keep up with the spinnaker in use.

Brian
IT is possible to find out for how long the autopilot as been used on Auto (time given must also include Track time). Hold down Stanby for 4 seconds. After 2 seconds you will see the Display Call screen. After another 2 seconds you see the controller software version. Push Disp you should see the Course computer sofware version.Push Disp again you should see the Time the autopilot was in auto. Push Stanby to exit.
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Old 26-07-2013, 05:10   #14
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Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

Has anyone heard that raymarine is discontinuing the x5, apparently soon, about six weeks I was told and putting out a new product?
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Old 09-04-2014, 13:40   #15
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Question Re: Raymarine X5 Tiller Autopilot Blown Gearcase

If anyone can assist that would be great. The raymarine that we have and what other vessels have has a major flaw in it's design and it is in the bracket that holds the ballbearings to allow for the wheel to turn when the drive unit is engaged. This bracket cracks and the ballbearings drop out over time and usage. Is it possible to order just the inside assembly for this unit or has anyone had any luck getting a better bracket made from stainless>???
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