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Old 19-05-2018, 15:35   #1
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Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Launched boat last week, went to use autopilot and got "ACTUATOR FAIL"

After inspection I saw that the oil had leaked from rod seals and the reservoir was empty.

I rebuilt the cylinder using seals from Hercules, $27 total.

Feeling pretty proud of myself for fixing my autopilot for cheap I went to install the ram today. I have the split system with motor/pump mounted separate from the ram. Reconnected hydraulic lines, filled reservoir and attempted to cycle motor back and forth to bleed. That did not work well so I went home and got a 12V power supply.

I disconnected the motor leads and the solenoid from the J3000X box. I hooked up solenoid to 12V and could feel it working. Then I hooked up motor leads to 12V supply and pump happily pushed ram back and forth. I repeated this for 5 minutes just switching the leads and pushing rudder back and forth.

Great. So then I wire everything back up and get same "ACTUATOR FAIL" message. Grrrr. Numerous attempts produce same result.

I pulled the solenoid (and dumped oil on my leg), checks out fine on 12v poppet moves perfectly.

I pulled the brushes in motor and they look new.

I ran it thru the dockside test via the AP11 control and everything went fine up to the rudder test. Once I centered the rudder the control took over and starts a series of tests. I think I remember it went one way and then "FAIL".

The rudder feedback and compass appear to work and read correctly.

Since I had already smashed my finger in the hatch and was gushing blood and it was raining I decided to hold off in the interest of not offending neighbors with my choice language.

About all I can figure out to test is the voltage at the motor terminals on the J3000x box. Will do that tomorrow. But I verified for 5 minutes that pump will run on 12v and appears AP11 control head works just fine.

Starting to think the J3000X box may be bad and not reversing voltage which accounts for actuator fail since the control head is expecting a change in heading.

All very strange I assume it was due to leaking the oil out and if I fixed and bled system it would work. Not discounting stupidity on my part but I believe the system was bled fine since it had plenty of power running the wheel back and forth and I verified by trying to stop the wheel.

Any other ideas? A used J3000x box is $150 on ebay so I could always fix with credit card but most times I just start throwing parts vs thinking about problem I end up with lots of extra parts.

Thx
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Old 20-05-2018, 03:23   #2
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Does your helm drive the same hydraulic system? If so, you might want to start bleeding there first. You should be able to find bleeding instructions online for your steering system components. The instructions may or may not address having an autopilot pump in the system, so you may have to address that separately, after you bleed at the helm(s). (When I bled my helms, I didn't have to do anything extra for the AP pump.)

It sounds like you've checked the steering and AP components and verified that all are working as best you can, but I agree that the junction box is a mystery, and it's difficult to determine if it's working or what's wrong with it when it isn't. If you research failures in this system online, failure to drive the pump is not typical, though I'm sure the system is possible of failing in every way imaginable.

Did you complete the AP setup? I have AP21s with a J300X, but I suspect the setup is similar. I just went through the setup last weekend after replacing the J300X, so my failures and successes with the process are fresh in my mind. It's important to accurately set the rudder limits prior to running the rudder control test that you mentioned. If not set appropriately, the limits will default to something stupid like zero in one direction and some tiny amount in the other. When the test encounters the zero or some ridiculously small number, the test will fail with an ambiguous error message, because the test expects to be able to move the rudder a small but set amount to both sides.

Complete the setup and set the centered rudder position as best you can and then appropriate port and stbd rudder limits for your rudder(s). If you leave setup after setting those, you should be able to test the AP rudder authority and operation using the AP remote in FU or NFU steering. Driving the rudders yourself with the AP will give you a better sense of what's working or not working. Once you've done that, you can go back into setup and skip forward to and complete the dockside rudder test if you want. I don't think completing or even performing the dockside setup is required to continue with and complete the underway portion of the setup, but it does give you some confidence in the system.

From what you've described, it seems your system should work. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 20-05-2018, 06:27   #3
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Unfortunately, the power transistors that actuate the drive tend to be a weak spot in the Computer, particularly so as the system ages (BTDT). If they have failed, they will not provide sufficient power to the drive. One of the best technicians I have found with knowledge of the AP11 system is "Steve" at Jaytron Electronics in Bradenton, Florida. He can be reached at 941-746-6385 and can tell you the process for testing/checking the transistors. Unfortunately, they are not inexpensive to replace. Good luck.

FWIW...
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Old 20-05-2018, 06:39   #4
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Not sure if he is still in business but try Rich at:
West Coast Marine Electronics
Phone: (206) 604-5168


About 5 years ago he replace the transistors in my J1000. Quick turn around and fair price.



Good Luck
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Old 20-05-2018, 08:23   #5
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Thanks for all the leads and suggestions.

It's fixed and here's what happened. Figured I might as well show something helpful. My cylinder was leaking from rod seals and Simrad refused to be helpful. I measured all the seals and bought from Hercules hydraulics. Total cost was $27

Part numbers are:

MUKRN-16x24x5.5 Qty (2) Hercules Sealing Products | Hydraulic Cylinder Repair Seals and Kits - Quality Seals Fast.
MUU-25x35x5 Qty (2) Hercules Sealing Products | Hydraulic Cylinder Repair Seals and Kits - Quality Seals Fast.
MSWS-16x24x4 Qty (2) Hercules Sealing Products | Hydraulic Cylinder Repair Seals and Kits - Quality Seals Fast.

I made 2 new tube gaskets using a circular gasket cutter and some thin teflon sheet I had laying around but anything would probably work. Dimensions are 1.50" OD and 1" ID I believe

Chucked up rod in my lathe and buffed it with fine scotchbrite and then ultrafine steel wool.

Installed seals in reverse order and assembled cylinder. It was a bit tricky getting seals to start in bore so I used tail stock of lathe to push it.
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Old 20-05-2018, 08:38   #6
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Then I assembled everything and tightened up tie rods. I had a gallon of Mobil ISO32 hydraulic oil so I used that.

Mounted cylinder back on boat. Connected lines.

Then I disconnected power to the pump as well as solenoid (bypass clutch). You need to energize the bypass clutch (polarity independent) and then you can alternate the leads from the pump to a 12V source (I used a jump pack) and manually cycle pump back and forth to bleed system. My pump is higher than the cylinder so the bubbles found their way up into reservoir. I topped up as necessary.

Couple cautions about manually running pump with 12V. You need to disconnect all wires from J300X junction box to the pump, which is the power pair and solenoid pair. The pump will only stop if you remove 12 V so be careful as you get close to rudder stops. Then reverse leads and pump will shove rudder back the other way. I probably did this for 5 min total just going back and forth until bubbles were gone.


***Here's where I screwed up***

I was pleased everything was working so I wired it all back up including solenoid and pump. BUT I transposed a wire. I saw Solenoid ground and wired one of the pump wires to that, it was very poor access and I was straining to see. Couldn't line my face up to terminals so I thought I had it wired right. It was only after I studied wiring diagram I noticed my mistake.

Hooked up wires correctly and it ran thru the dock test perfectly and passed. Pump worked smoothly in both directions and would center up rudder right on centerline. I haven't sea trialed it yet but all tests I did at dock seem to indicate the only thing wrong the whole time was bad seals and everything after that was related to me being an idiot.

So hopefully the rebuild of the ram was useful to someone down the road. It really was pretty simple, just need to be sure you orient seals correctly. A couple picks and a small flat bladed screwdriver were all the install tools. Just be careful not to gouge anything when prying seals out.
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Old 20-05-2018, 12:14   #7
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Great news. Very glad to learn you issue was a minor wiring problem and not the power transistors. (For future reference, note that the junction block for the by-pass clutch can simply be unplugged without the need to release the wires.)

Cheers!~
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Old 20-05-2018, 14:16   #8
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Re: Simrad Autopilot help (AP11, J3000x, Linear Drive)

Wow... that was a head scratcher. Good job and thanks for the write up. I bet you lay in the bed for hours going over every minute details.
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