Recently changed autopilots from a very old Raymarine to the Autohelm ST4000 MK1, black wheel drive. Left for 6 weeks and the belt inside broke. Returning from Guadeloupe I stopped in Le Morin and found that I might be able to replace the belt. It is not being supplied by Raymarine anymore.
My question is, if I can replace the belt for around 75US is it worth it. The new drive wheel unit will cost around 700US, but it is suppose to be tighter and more responsive to the boat. Does anyone have experience with both that can tell me first hand how much better the MK11, grey wheel drive, is over the MK 1, black wheel drive? In what type of weather do you have to take over for the Autopilot due to it not having the power to control the wheel?
I am able to buy the new one but do want to get my moneys worth, so the difference between 75 and 700 is not the deciding factor. I would rather have an autopilot that responds to the weather and direction of the boat. I also know that the parts on the MK1 are getting harder and harder to get. Thanks. Aloisius
If you are asking will one perform better that the other, my opinion is no, as long as both are in good order. The Mark II has some nice improvements over the older unit but it also seems to have a problem with the gears stripping when forced. If you are doing a lot of cruising away from easy access to repairs and parts, I would suggest a backup to all your autopilot parts. So, buy a mark II and keep the old as a spare or pick up a refurbished black drive.
The issue that addresses your question is that the motors are pretty much the same size on both units. Complicated by the belt issue. Get replacement belts and learn how to service the hub and all its parts.
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So if the two are very similar, I already have a spare motor. Pick up a few belts and rollers. I imagine there are a few old belt drive systems around that I could get one. A lot cheaper than the new MK 11.
This works if the old system preforms generally as good as the new.