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Old 18-11-2016, 15:50   #1
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RPU160 autopilot drive motor question

I have a Simrad autopilot that is using an RPU160 reversible drive unit. Does anyone have experience with this unit?

The control head reports Fail Actuator when it is engaged and the drive unit attempts to adjust the rudder angle.

I have removed and cleaned the brushes but that didn't change anything. I also hooked the motor direct to the battery but nothing happened. It seems pretty clear the motor is fried.

The RPU160 consists of the valve body with the three hydraulic hoses attached and the electric motor. The motor is attached to the valve body with two screws. A complete new pump is running $800-1000. The electric motor is less than $450.

The owners manual, section 6.1, indicates the motor can be removed from the valve body for inspection. I spoke with a tech at Simrad Robertson and he said removing the motor would cause hydraulic fluid to leak from the valve body. The manual says nothing about that.

Does anyone have experience with separating or servicing the two parts of this unit? Any insight or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks.

John
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Old 19-11-2016, 02:49   #2
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Re: RPU160 autopilot drive motor question

If I recall correctly the tech is right. The motor shaft has an oil seal around it, remove it and it will leak. But first, it's normally worn out brushes. If they are too short, being worn down, cleaning won't help. Remove and measure the brush length. Compare to spec. Are they free to move? If the brushes are ok, you'll have to remove the unit. If installed horizontally, a worn seal can leak oil into to the motor, sometimes fatal to it. Unit should be installed vertically, motor up, to help avoid this problem. Brushes are most likely though.
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Old 19-11-2016, 04:17   #3
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Re: RPU160 autopilot drive motor question

If you remove the motor from the fluid end, yes hydraulic fluid will leak. I highly recommend that you remove the pump wiring (2wires) and connect them directly to a 12 volt source to see if the motor is indeed the problem before buying another. It's a reversing motor so it won't matter which wire goes to the positive or negative and switching them will simply make the motor run the other direction. Many times it is something as simple as a bad connection to the autopilot control that is the issue. Good luck
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Old 19-11-2016, 04:20   #4
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Re: RPU160 autopilot drive motor question

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
If I recall correctly the tech is right. The motor shaft has an oil seal around it, remove it and it will leak. But first, it's normally worn out brushes. If they are too short, being worn down, cleaning won't help. Remove and measure the brush length. Compare to spec. Are they free to move? If the brushes are ok, you'll have to remove the unit. If installed horizontally, a worn seal can leak oil into to the motor, sometimes fatal to it. Unit should be installed vertically, motor up, to help avoid this problem. Brushes are most likely though.
Interesting. Just seems weird to me that the weak point in a hydraulic system that is under pressure would be a seal around a motor shaft. Okay. Thanks for the confirmation.

I did pull out the brushes and send photos of them to a tech at Robertson. He said they looked like they still had plenty of life in them.

I haven't been able to figure out how to attach the images themselves but here is a link to the album holding the photos of the brushes. Autopilot brush photos

Do they look okay to you?
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Old 19-11-2016, 04:23   #5
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Re: RPU160 autopilot drive motor question

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Originally Posted by Jsta_Rebel View Post
If you remove the motor from the fluid end, yes hydraulic fluid will leak. I highly recommend that you remove the pump wiring (2wires) and connect them directly to a 12 volt source to see if the motor is indeed the problem before buying another. It's a reversing motor so it won't matter which wire goes to the positive or negative and switching them will simply make the motor run the other direction. Many times it is something as simple as a bad connection to the autopilot control that is the issue. Good luck
Thanks, Rebel. That was one of the diagnostic steps I already took. Hooking directly to the battery, the motor did nothing in either direction. Reversing the connections resulted in the same unresponsiveness. The motor itself appears to be the issue.
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Old 19-11-2016, 10:47   #6
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Re: RPU160 autopilot drive motor question

The brushes look ok, but what matters is that they move smoothly and make good contact. If the brushes/contact is the fault, when connecting to power, the motor should draw nothing - there is no circuit. If it draws 40 amps plus, it's stalled ! You'll have to remove it. Can you smell a burnt smell close to the motor (windings), or perhaps a seized bearing? Bearings and seals are cheap. Also check for the magnets being still attached to the case - they can come off. If one has, it can be epoxied back on....
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