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Old 12-09-2016, 11:10   #1
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Used " Auto Helm" steering

Forgive me if I'm in the wrong thread, second post here. Need advise. I purchased a used Auto Helm style like a Monitor, last night. I actually thought I was purchasing the Monitor.

Anyway this unit is clean but some oddities. The unit is made with a lot of aluminum, the van is aluminum. This unit has a trim tab on the rudder, which seems to be in great shape.

Can anybody tell be what I just purchased, is this Auto Helm a good product, part of my confusion is the docs with the A/H, say it's out of LA, and not the SF Bay Area.

Made of aluminum, the actual vane is also metal, not a composite. My boats a Hallberg RASSY 33 " Mistral"

Planning on going on the hard in the next 60 days, for paint and thru hull inspections. Planning on mounting the AH at that time.

Can someone please tell me what I purchased, and if I did good, or should I sell it, and get the monitor. Either way the unit will be used, as I can't afford new, anything.

Thank you in advance.


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Old 12-09-2016, 11:19   #2
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

I think you'd have more chance of a positive identification if you could post some pics.

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Old 12-09-2016, 12:12   #3
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

Is this the unit ?
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Old 12-09-2016, 13:49   #4
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

Hi guys, the unit shown is not it. However that is the updated version. I contacted Monitor, after reviewing the link you posted, and got quit an education from a wonderful lady who was extremely helpful.

I'll share what I learned. Per Monitor, this unit I purchased is a pre unit, likely 24/30 years old. " remarkable shape, for the age" it's frame is heavy gauge aluminum and black in color. My unit can be used as a two part system, like the pic in the link, or this one has the ability to connect to the frame as a single unit, if the boats stern and rails will allow.

During my recent education I learned that " generally" the Monitor WILL NOT work on a hydraulic, steering system. My Hallberg RASSY has a hydraulic system. " their is away to make it work" but it's complicated.

However this AUTOHELM system WILL work on the hyd, steering system. I also learned that this AUTOHELM, actually uses the systems rudder, not the boats rubber, which clears extra lines out, in the cockpit.

This makes sense, as I've spent days looking on the net for a pic of a Hallberg RASSY 33 with a monitor in place, did not find one, which I thought was odd, but now makes sense.

Back to this AUTOHELM. This particular unit is currently in the one piece configuration, with the wind vane" which is aluminum" fits down into a post about five inches forward of the rudder post.

The vane, uses two small braided lines that run thru the center hollow, post and attach to the trim tab, one on each side of the tri. Tab. The trim tab, responded directionally to the wind, placing force on the trim tab, causing the secondary unit rudder to move as applicable.

Frankly this system is simplistic in construction, but very solid. I actually just set it up in my front yard to better understand the autohelms operation. Their are no gears, or fancy top secret parts, the wind blows on the vane, the vane leans left or right, the small cable linking the vane to the trim tab forces the unit rudder to stay the course.

I hope this makes sense, it does to me. Anyways I'm a fng, on the ocean so my learning curve is and will be steep.

Monitor did state that should I decide to go with a monitor, they will purchase this system for roughly double what I paid for it, as a trade in, a very generous opportunity, if I thought the monitor would work easily without major changes on my boat.

I've decided to stay with this unit, as I picked it up for a very reasonable price. The simplicity of the system and the need for only a couple spares make it attractive, to me. A few stainless bolts washers, and nuts and some braided line and that's it.

Thank you for your input.

Dirk Williams
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Old 12-09-2016, 14:26   #5
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

Dirk, FWIW, back in 1985 when we were preparing to leave I built a similar windvane, using th same principles, and installed it on our old IOR one-tonner. In short, that vane steered us at sea for the next 17 years and 86K miles. I loved it!

In general, this type of vane will wander a bit more than a servo-pendulum type (eg Monitor, Aires etc), and not respond to wave induced yaw as quickly, but will serve admirably to get you where you are going, and do so without lines fouling your cockpit and wheel. It will also serve as an emergency rudder should the ships main rudder be damaged.

When you install it, be sure to provide some means of locking it in the straight ahead position. Otherwise when backing up it will flop hard over one way or the other and completely stuff your directional control. Further, at least on our boat, when motoring the turbulence of the propwash would drive the rudder about and cause instability, so locking it was required then as well. Could be different on yur boat, depending upon where the prop is relative to the aux rudder.

I think you will find it to be your new best friend!

Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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Old 12-09-2016, 16:35   #6
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

Thank you Jim. I'm a simple man, I like simple. Seems like all the modern stuff made today just clutter's up my life. I don't text, or use a computer very well, by choice. I prefer a good leather bound book to any other medium, and prefer to eat my meals off of nice, China, and real silver, silver wear, nothing fancy. I'm looking forward to this next series of great adventures.

My boat is in my humble opinion a gift from God, a life saver, an opportunity to continue my life's great adventures. I'm at my best when I'm alone.

never required much outside stimulation, and have no problems telling useless people where to stuff it. Believe strongly in family and great friends. Love sunrises and sunsets.

Thanks again.

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Old 13-09-2016, 08:29   #7
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

I use the AH vane on my 48' center cockpit ketch with hydraulic steering.

I used to use an Aries vane connected to the ship's emergency steering tiller.

These simple and robust systems have stood the test of time and hundreds of thousands of miles on many long distance cruising boats.

I second all that Jim Cate has written above especially the need to effectively lock the system a midships when backing.

I recommend the purchase and installation of all the parts included in the standard rebuild kit supplied by the manufacturer or at very least to keep this kit aboard if going long distance.

Like feathers on an arrow the auxilary rudder will reduce yaw and broaching.

The AH vane gear offers several means of fine tuning the system for varying wind conditions.
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Old 13-09-2016, 08:48   #8
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Re: Used " Auto Helm" steering

Back in the 80's I was seriously looking into getting a windvane for Scorpius and looked at the Auto Helm. It came highly recommended and quite a few were in use. You still see a few around. Due to Scorpius's configuration, with a trim tab on the main rudder, it was a much better fit than the Monitor.

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