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Old 29-09-2015, 04:32   #1
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Replacing autopilot

Planning a longer cruise next summer. The boat has an old Autohelm 3000 AP unit with belt drive to the inside steering position. It has worked occasionally, but only used it while motoring. Can't really trust the whole set up and I'm now considering to replace it with a new system. The boat has hydraulic steering, so am looking at systems that use hydraulic pumps. Boat is 35ft about 6 tons, sloop rigged.

I'm on a budget with this, so have looked at ready to install kits and there are a couple with pretty nice discounts available at the moment here. One that I was considering is Simrad AP2401, which comes with AP24 + AC12 computer, FC40 compass and RPU80 pump, rated for 80-250cc linear drives.

Don't need anything fancy, just to keep the course in light to moderate conditions under power or sail. Not planning to network the AP, boat's pretty low-tec anyway (but you never know...).

Is there any reason why this set up wouldn't work on a sailboat? I know that there are dedicated sailboat models of APs. I assume they have special programs for gybing, steering by wind etc. But is there any fundamental problem with a "normal" AP on a sailboat?
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Old 29-09-2015, 06:29   #2
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Re: Replacing autopilot

I found the cheapest viable option for me was the CPT autopilot. Its a wheel pilot but a real beefy one. I've got a 41', 20,000 pound yawl.

Cons:
No frills, no networking, and you have to turn a few knobs to tune it to the sea state. Its also not a redundant steering system like a below-deck, ram-on-the-rudderpost would be. So if my cable steering fails, so does my AP.

Pros:
Installed in an afternoon, keeps a pretty steady course on all points of sail, cost less than 2 boat bucks, and is _super_ quiet.
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Old 29-09-2015, 06:55   #3
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Re: Replacing autopilot

The kit you are considering will work fine, and is made for a sailboat. It will be network capable, if you should ever want that in the future, have all the sailing modes available, etc. I don't know what led you to believe it is a basic model not made specifically for sailboats.

The only thing I would change on it is to get the RC42 rate compass instead of the FC40 fluxgate. It will cost an extra $140, but the difference is worth much more than that in performance - particularly in those specific conditions where hand steering may not be an option, or may be dangerous (need to address another problem, short on sleep, etc).

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Old 29-09-2015, 07:22   #4
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Re: Replacing autopilot

Thanks for the replies. I did check the CPT now, and installation does indeed seem like breeze. Don't think I could get it locally in Finland, though. Do want a hydraulics based system. Price is about the same as the Simrad kit.

Mark, excellent, thank you for the info. The webshop has some Garmin models labeled as "sail boat" AP, this Simrad was not, hence my question. Anyhow the kit is just 1500 EUR now, which I think is a good price. Will check if it's possible to change the compass for the kit, but I doubt it. Future upgrade should be pretty much plug-and-play, I assume, if it comes to that.
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Old 29-09-2015, 07:33   #5
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Re: Replacing autopilot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandibar View Post
The webshop has some Garmin models labeled as "sail boat" AP, this Simrad was not, hence my question.
In reality, that should be reversed - the Garmin models are poor sailboat AP's and the Simrads are primarily so.

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Old 29-09-2015, 09:38   #6
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Re: Replacing autopilot

The vendor has a kit with Rc42, but it's 600 EUR more expensive. For that price I can get the kit + the Better compass separately. Will go with the original kit first and maybe update later if necessary.
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Old 29-09-2015, 09:51   #7
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Re: Replacing autopilot

CPT Autopilot. Been using it 10 years on my 37ft 20,000lb cutter. I swear by it, not at it. Cant say enough about how good it is. Go to their website. They ship internationally. www.cptautopilot.com
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Old 29-09-2015, 12:33   #8
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Re: Replacing autopilot

I've got a CPT love it. But if I had hydraulic steering I think I would go with a hydraulic autopilot first


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Old 29-09-2015, 13:25   #9
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Re: Replacing autopilot

The CPT shipped here with vat & duties would be around 3k USD, I assume. This Simrad kit is a lot cheaper at the moment even if I need to buy some extra hydraulic hose & connectors.

The drive unit of the old AP works, so was considering if I could just swap the control unit with something more modern. Not sure how much of a project that is or if they are interchangeable straight out of box. Then again, the old AH3000 drive unit looks and feels really flimsy. Think I will have more confidence in a properly installed hydraulic system.
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Old 06-10-2015, 01:26   #10
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Re: Replacing autopilot

Decided to order the AP24 kit. I do have a question, maybe someone will be able to answer.
The boat currently has two helm stations. The hydraulic tubes from both run to a non return valve (pic) and from there to the ram. Researching this, it seems there should be a balancing tube between the two helm pumps - but there isn't. It's just two tubes from both helms to the NRV. Works fine, though.
When I mount the AP electric pump, I will do it close to the ram, as there is enough space on the bulkhead. The NRV has no more connections left, so will use T-connectors to the helm-pump to NRV tubes and attach the AP pump to those. A balancing tube is specified in the instructions, so will then run a balancing tube to the helm pump directly from AP pump.
My question: Will this work? Is it ok to forget about a balancing line to the inside helm station, i.e. does the NRV isolate it from the main helm/AP combination?
Or is the balancing tube necessary at all?

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Old 09-10-2015, 20:30   #11
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Re: Replacing autopilot

I'll add to the pile but my CPT was about the best 1800$ I've spent on the boat . Does all that was mentioned on a Corbin 39 at 12 tons . Handles the boat with minimal pose draw , can be taken off the boat when Not being used in about 5 minutes ,quiet, simple and easy .


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Old 11-10-2015, 09:15   #12
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Re: Replacing autopilot

Thanks for the recommendation Cortezsailor. I've already ordered the Simrad kit, based on price, availability + hydraulic system. Hope, someone can chime in about the balancing tube.
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