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Old 18-11-2012, 20:42   #1
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Hydraulic Autopilots

Hi everyone,

I'm a Westsail 32 owner and I'm doing a refit for long distance cruising. I want to upgrade my autopilot, but the options for the tiller are few. I've been using a Ratheon ST4000+ for years. It has worked well in most conditions, but I needed to replace the control head twice in the past 8 years. Unfortunately, the control head is no longer available, because the unit has been replaced by Raymarine with the SPX-5 tiller pilot, which appears to be the same equipment, but for the control head, which is now two separate pieces (the computer and the display). In any event, I would need to purchase the whole package ($2,500) to replace what I have.

Simrad also makes a tiller pilot, the TP32, which have been used on sister ships with some success. It's a cheaper option, but I'm looking for something more robust.

Is there any reason why a hydraulic liner ram unit couldn't be mounted above deck and attached directly to the back of the tiller? The motor could be installed below deck and the hoses routed through water-tight fittings. A large pin could be slipped through the back of the tiller at its lowest possition, which would allow for a quick disconnect to free the tiller for hand steering.

Has anybody seen this done or have any ideas on the subject?

John
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Old 20-11-2012, 19:55   #2
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

Most autopilots need some feedback on the rudder position. A tiller pilot has this built-in. You'd need to work out some way of letting the A/P know where the rudder was.
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Old 22-11-2012, 09:48   #3
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

I don't see any reason why that would not work, but you will end up spending way more that what you would for a new Raymarine course computer and control head.
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Old 22-11-2012, 10:08   #4
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

you are talking about a hydraulic autopilot with the ram above decks. No problem with this at all, but a bit of a messy looking rig I imagine. And will likely cost you more than an electric AP. You could look into an Alpha 3000, it has a powerful aircraft style Electric Linear Drive. It's a bit old school as far as the control head goes, but pretty much bullet proof and simple to operate. I've had them on boats to 47 feet. That way the Ram wont have dripping stiff hoses etc above deck. The Linear Drive loks like an oversize tiller pilot ram. Not cheap either though, but a lot better investment than a tiller pilot priced at $2500....
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Old 22-11-2012, 10:21   #5
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

We have a hyd auto pilot with rudder indicator (necessary for a hyd system). You will lose the "feel" of the boat with the hyd system. Without the indicator you have no idea what the rudder position is. Aboard Windfall at 42' and nearly 20 tons(loaded with wife's stuff) the hyd system works great for us and has been very reliable.
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Old 22-11-2012, 10:29   #6
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

Quote:
Originally Posted by svWindfall View Post
We have a hyd auto pilot with rudder indicator (necessary for a hyd system). You will lose the "feel" of the boat with the hyd system. Without the indicator you have no idea what the rudder position is. Aboard Windfall at 42' and nearly 20 tons(loaded with wife's stuff) the hyd system works great for us and has been very reliable.
The W32 has an outboard rudder and tiller. Pretty hard to loose where the rudder is!
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Old 22-11-2012, 10:47   #7
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

Assume you have windvane self steering like an Aires, Monitor, Cap Horn, etc. If you do, you should be able to set it up to steer with an inexpensive tiller pilot providing heading input for the vane.
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Old 23-11-2012, 17:41   #8
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Re: hydraulic autopilots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
you are talking about a hydraulic autopilot with the ram above decks. No problem with this at all, but a bit of a messy looking rig I imagine. And will likely cost you more than an electric AP. You could look into an Alpha 3000, it has a powerful aircraft style Electric Linear Drive. It's a bit old school as far as the control head goes, but pretty much bullet proof and simple to operate. I've had them on boats to 47 feet. That way the Ram wont have dripping stiff hoses etc above deck. The Linear Drive loks like an oversize tiller pilot ram. Not cheap either though, but a lot better investment than a tiller pilot priced at $2500....
I agree with you Cheechako, hydraulics may not be my best option (for many of the reasons you stated), but I didn't think I had an option. The Alpha could work. Thank you for mentioning it.

Their website doesn't really give me enough information or pictures to understand the system. How does it connect to the tiller?
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