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Old 26-10-2013, 15:59   #1
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Auto pilot

I have an old Navico auto pilot (belt driven - parts missing)- never used) that I removed from the boat when she was purchased. Now, serioulsy thinking of installing a new auto pilot. Does anyone have any recommendations for an auto pilot for a 32' Bristol? Your experience and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Al
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Old 26-10-2013, 19:59   #2
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Re: Auto pilot

My Raymarine SG3 has worked well over the last seven year, 3 of that fulltime cruising. Would highly recommend it.
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Old 26-10-2013, 20:08   #3
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Re: Auto pilot

I have a Raymarine X5 because I wanted something cheap a couple of years ago. It fit the bill and has logged a couple (few?) thousand miles. I don't trust it one iota, but it keeps going.

I recently fitted a Hydrovane and since that has its own rudder and tiller, I can switch out to a tiller pilot which are cheaper and more reliable (than a wheel pilot).
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Old 26-10-2013, 20:57   #4
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Re: Auto pilot

I have only 30,000 plus miles experience with an Alpha 3000. Worked flawlessly for most of the time it was install for 20+ years and then the compass went south 3 yrs ago and it was replaced and then the ram failed the following year and it shorted the control head. YUCK. Rather than start with a new pilot I received a special offer to replace the control head new in the old case... and bought a new ram which was improved and quieter. So I got the most current version - software and hardware. It's back on duty working flawlessly now for 2 yrs.

I like the Alpha 3000 because:

The course heading is set by turning a large dial pointing to steer the heading you want. The dial is like a little helm... turn to starboard.. boat steers to starboard. I don't want to be punching numbers into a display. I placed the control head so I can turn the dial while looking where I'm going... even steer from under the dodger.

The AP does NOT interface with GPS and that suits me fine. I set waypoints and then set the dial to the course. I don't use routes either... just one waypoint at a time.

There is a yaw control to limit the amount of minor corrections required from waves and puffs. This saves amps and the pilot is not pushing it back and forth to correct for minor changes in direction (imperceptible usually).

My experience in several deliveries with Raymarine and precursors was that they were OK.. but I did not like the button pressing to set a course or change one.

Alpha service support has been excellent and so I would highly recommend the Alpha 3000.
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Old 26-10-2013, 21:16   #5
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Re: Auto pilot

I have a NKE system. Fantastic system. Steers the boat to true wind, apparent wind, magnetic heading, rudder angle or GPS input. The true wind mode works great for setting the asym drives the boat better than I do. NKE are found on most of the open 60's, strong and very reliable.

I would like a vane system as an addition would have to do lots of mods though not sure I have the heart for that.
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Old 27-10-2013, 09:15   #6
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Re: Auto pilot

I agree that NKE is probably the best out there, but for a Bristol 32? In the Chesapeake? It is a very expensive piece of kit (and well worth it for many), but is probably overkill here. But there is no denying it is top-end kit.

I don't agree with the Alpha - that is underkill for the price. BTW, control head models from Simrad, Raymarine, Furuno and probably all others have steering and course setting turning knobs, and I don't know of a single example anywhere of having to punch course numbers into a display.

For a Bristol 32, just about any common consumer system is going to work just fine. They are well balanced boats and do not have large steering forces or quick movements off course. I won't recommend any particular one, but Raymarine, Simrad, Garmin, etc will be fine.

If you only use it for motoring or short coastal cruising, even the wheel pilots will work well for you.

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Old 27-10-2013, 09:57   #7
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Re: Auto pilot

Before deciding what brand/type of autopilot you want/need you need to decide under what conditions you expect it to work under.

A wheel drive unit in normal conditions should be fine for a 32' boat, but if conditions are bad maybe not.
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Old 27-10-2013, 10:17   #8
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Re: Auto pilot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandero View Post
I have only 30,000 plus miles experience with an Alpha 3000. Worked flawlessly for most of the time it was install for 20+ years and then the compass went south 3 yrs ago and it was replaced and then the ram failed the following year and it shorted the control head. YUCK. Rather than start with a new pilot I received a special offer to replace the control head new in the old case... and bought a new ram which was improved and quieter. So I got the most current version - software and hardware. It's back on duty working flawlessly now for 2 yrs.

I like the Alpha 3000 because:

The course heading is set by turning a large dial pointing to steer the heading you want. The dial is like a little helm... turn to starboard.. boat steers to starboard. I don't want to be punching numbers into a display. I placed the control head so I can turn the dial while looking where I'm going... even steer from under the dodger.

The AP does NOT interface with GPS and that suits me fine. I set waypoints and then set the dial to the course. I don't use routes either... just one waypoint at a time.

There is a yaw control to limit the amount of minor corrections required from waves and puffs. This saves amps and the pilot is not pushing it back and forth to correct for minor changes in direction (imperceptible usually).

My experience in several deliveries with Raymarine and precursors was that they were OK.. but I did not like the button pressing to set a course or change one.

Alpha service support has been excellent and so I would highly recommend the Alpha 3000.
+1 for the Alpha if you want simple and reliable. I had them on a CT44, Passport 47 and Lagoon 42.
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Old 27-10-2013, 11:42   #9
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Re: Auto pilot

Thank you for your response. You were correct in that I will probalby only use the auto unit under power or light winds and a wheel system will be ok. Most folks in this area like Raymarine- and for a 32' - what unit would you recommend?

Thank you again.
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Old 27-10-2013, 12:59   #10
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IMHO it comes down to how much do you want to spend? I had an ST300 that died and after thinking about it I bought an older Ray Autohelm. It does what I want, holds a course it fairly 4-6 and will keep her nose into the wind better than some guests I have had on board.
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Old 27-10-2013, 13:39   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snore View Post
IMHO it comes down to how much do you want to spend? I had an ST300 that died and after thinking about it I bought an older Ray Autohelm. It does what I want, holds a course it fairly 4-6 and will keep her nose into the wind better than some guests I have had on board.
Cripes,that had typos!!!

IMHO it comes down to how much do you want to spend? I had an ST3000 that died and after thinking about it I bought an older Ray Autohelm. It does what I want, holds a course fairly well in 4-6 foot seas and will keep her nose into the wind better than some guests I have had onboard
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Old 27-10-2013, 14:14   #12
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Re: Auto pilot

Love my B&G - More stable than my old Autohelm and easy to use.
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Old 30-10-2013, 13:24   #13
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Re: Auto pilot

Thanks. I just received a quote on the new Raymarine EV 100, p70. auto wheel pilot. I looks like about a 2k job, ( unit @ 1400.00 and materials and labor @ 600.00) including installation and fabricating the auto pilot control unit in my old Datamarine wind indicator location in the Datamarine instrument panel at the helm. ( The wind indicator doesn't work because I disconnected it and all the hardware from the mast- too many bird problems) Does the price sound reasonable?

I was also thinking of doing a bottom job this year- so I will have to make a decision- one now and one later.

Please respond.
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