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Old 23-08-2009, 20:00   #1
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Has Anyone Made a Windvane / Self-Steering Device ?

I wish to build a windvane self steering unit for my boat which is a 29ft C&C. Got any plans or ideas?
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Old 23-08-2009, 20:08   #2
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Check out Walt Murray's web site: http://www.mindspring.com/~waltmur/Self-Steering/
As a hobby he designed and built vane systems. If you do try one of his designs, I'd be curious to hear about your experience.
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Old 24-08-2009, 18:27   #3
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I built one a few years ago and I got everything out of an abandoned building except some pvc from the hardware store. It worked on a 21ft sailboat, but it did an S downwind (which is the hardest)

I might be building another one very soon for 27' boat. I would rather just get a commercial unit which is damaged and repair it though.
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Old 24-08-2009, 19:01   #4
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care to share the design of it with me?

george
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Old 24-08-2009, 19:20   #5
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I made one from a design in this book:

Amazon.com: Wind-Vane Self-Steering (9780877421580): Bill Belcher: Books

As it claimed to be for 30 feet and under boats and I was putting it on a 34 footer I assumed that it wouldn't sail downwind very well. Downwind to Hawaii it didn't steer well, but we didn't work very hard at it, only tried once or twice since the electric autopilot worked well. It steered the boat most of the way back from Hawaii. It was upwind most of the way since the high moved way north about the time we were looking for the westerlies and we wound up close reaching on the other tack rather than running in the westerlies.

John
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Old 24-08-2009, 22:19   #6
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I think I'm just going to get an autohelm 2000. They are like $500 on ebay and work in all wind conditions. If I build a better system it is still a very good backup to have.

I'll get a wind generator which generates more and more power with more wind the only problem is the electric motor is a limitation, where the wind vane has lots and lots of power in really high winds.

I would like to hook an electric autopilot to a pendulum eventually, this is slightly simpler than building a fully mechanical wind vane, but I get all the advantages (auto tacking etc..)

I really would like a computer controlled servo, so I can do wave compensation (I will have attitude information with electronic gyros accels and magnetometers) so I can track the wave frequencies. With the right motor controller (dc/dc converter or similar) you can actually generate power when the water pushes against the rudder spinning the motor if you want to, or do the opposite and use it as a means of propulsion (electric powered and no propeller)
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Old 22-12-2009, 07:06   #7
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I was looking at doing this too, for my 27 footer (fin and skeg). I like the simplicity of the walt Murray designs and think I could make a platform to mount to the aft deck without drilling the transom. But, I'm not keen on the bent wire actuator. i'm pretty sure the local fishermen and general boat scum would bend this out of alignment on a regular basis!

Take a look at the Jan Alkema USD design (20-20B), or maybe his own design which is linked by line to a ruddser head mount. Why not blend the two? If the turning blocks for the lines from the windvane to the pendulum are allowd to swing with the blade, then it should provide the necessary feedback for yaw damping, I think. I was considering using dinghy pintles and gudgeons with a retainer to allow the lower section of the gear to be quickly removed for day sailing and storage.

Try Googling "Jan Alkema", there's some good stuff there.

Rob.
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Old 30-12-2009, 16:07   #8
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I'll be publishing free plans the coming months but I'm not sure if I can/may share the details here.

PM me if you'd like to be kept informed.
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Old 25-10-2010, 17:08   #9
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The plans on Walt Murry's site are called the 20 20 because the average sailor can build it in 20 hours useing 20 dollars worth of materiels, the original idea was to see if you really wanted windvane before you spent the money. The plans were improved over the years to the point where you didn't need to buy a production windvane. I am going to try Jan Alkema's version designed for transom hung rudders.
It's the link that was posted at the beginning of this thread http://www.mindspring.com/~waltmur/Self-Steering/
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Old 25-10-2010, 17:57   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geckosenator View Post
I think I'm just going to get an autohelm 2000. They are like $500 on ebay
Subject: windvane, self-made.

;-)))
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:30   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Subject: windvane, self-made.

;-)))
barnie
Thanks I hope that keeps this from drifting into a wind vane vs auto helm debate.
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:45   #12
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I have a self made Belcher design on my Murray 33 at about 18,000 pounds. It is of the auxiliary trim tab type. As far as I can tell it works just fine.

It is NOT 20/20 but I didn't make it. The boats PO did. He modified some of Belcher's ideas, mostly using self made fiber glass forms instead of what Belcher did.

I like it because it works as a emergency rudder as well AND you don't have to muck around with the steering. It is all self contained.
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Old 25-10-2010, 21:16   #13
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The version I am looking at is mounted on the rudder head and requires no control lines. It isn't exactly a trim tab (attached to the rudder) but hangs in the water just behind the rudder using the wake of the rudder to give it leverage. As my boat has a mount for a conventional wind vane and a rudder that will easily take a trim tab (plus the boat is out of the water for the winter) I welcome suggestions for ideas to try.
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Old 06-11-2010, 22:52   #14
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The best design by far is Bill Belcher. I had one for more than ten years and did more than 20,000 ocean miles with it. I couldn't fault it. It would steer, within a few degrees, down wind in less than ten knots of wind.

Did you know Bill is a Kiwi? He's passed on now. I'm an Aussie, he was well known down under. He got shipwrecked on a reef off the Australian coast. Instead of waiting to be rescued, he got in his dingy and rowed several hundred miles to the mainland! If you want his book new, for about US$30 go to boatbooks.co.nz or Google nz.com 'Bill Belcher'
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Old 06-11-2010, 23:07   #15
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I do know my boats "semi-sister ship" (rigged gaff w/ bowsprit instead of the original design of jib-headed knockabout) will sail for days on end with just a lashed tiller and the rig variation I have is alot better balanced (not to mention will point alot higher)...am still going to build a mechanical wind-vane.
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