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Old 02-12-2012, 06:15   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2012
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Boat: Mariner 32
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Unhappy Aries Wind vane and Worm Gear Steering


We own a Mariner 32 full keel Ketch and have been trying to set-up a Windvane auto-pilot for the last 6 months without much success.
We’ve been hand steering the whole time and with only 2 people and sometimes 400-500 mile passages it just becomes unbearable and sleep/energy depriving to do this for 5 days in a row.

We’re about to cross the pacific and are getting really desperate about our self steering situation since we just can’t hand steer for a whole month with only the 2 of us.

So here’s the problem:
The boat has an Edson Worm gear/backward wheel steering system which is great in a way that it’s the strongest most reliable system you can find on the boat, but it also could be part of the problem.
It is 40 years old and although maintained and serviced it does have a bit of play and slop and feels a bit heavy sometimes to steer.

The boat used to have a Monitor wind vane and the previous owner crossed the atlantic with it twice and said it worked fine with that.

Unfortunately that wind vane has been taken off and because of time and budget we only managed to find an old wind vane">Aries wind vane.

They are both of the servo-pendulum type so i assumed that the Aries does the same job as the Monitor.

But we found out that the Aries only turns our wheel ¼ of a turn which Is clearly not enough as our wheel does 4,5 turn from lock to lock.

Monitor claims that their system works on any steering system up till 4 turns lock to lock.

When I center the wheel and turn over to port I count 1 ¾ of a turn and when I turn it from center to starboard I count 2 ½ turns.

Add this up and you have 4 ½ turns lock to lock which really surprises me because it should be the exact same turns to each side.
Does this mean that the worm gears are off centered or does the rudder just turns more to starboard than port?

Anyways. That shouldn’t really matter because if a windvane on ‘normal’ boats with 2 turns lock to lock only has to do half a turn to get itself back on course our windvane therefore has to do 1 full turn on the wheel.
So therefore we tried to mount a smaller pulley on the wheel where we connect the tiller lines to and hoped that that would make the wheel do more turns but as expected that put to much force on the whole set-up and the rudder blade wouldn’t swing all the way to the side and the wheel would still only do ¼ to ½ turns.

Monitor points out 2 things on there website:
And the second point is that if your boat does require more then ¼ of a turn you can rig a reverse-purchase system to the operating lines.

I haven't found much info on that on the web of someone who has tried that it not sure if it works well.

We don’t have enough power to drive an electrical auto-pilot system so that’s not an option either.

The only option I can think of that’s left is a wheel independent self steering unit like the Hydrovane.
But these things are not cheap and who can guarantee me that it will work?

Anyone any ideas on this?

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Old 02-12-2012, 11:16   #2
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Re: Aries Wind vane and Worm Gear Steering

Look at this thread:

Several posts down, there's a recipe for a do-it-yourself auxiliary rudder/trim tab vane that looks like it might solve your problem at a reasonable cost.

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Old 02-12-2012, 12:08   #3
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Re: Aries Wind vane and Worm Gear Steering

It is my understanding that pendulum servo vanes won't work well on worm gear steering. Too much inertia in the system or something. Apparently the PO got it to work so best to find them and find out how they did it. The Monitor is almost an exact copy of t Aries, just in stainless not aluminum, so doubt that your problem is the vane. Have owned both and like the Aries wind vane heading control system way better. Are you using the Monitor/Aries wheel attachment drum or some other means to attach the steering control lines to the wheel?? The drum being much smaller than the wheel gives more wheel movement per pull on the control line.

If you are getting more turns one way or the other, either the worm gear is not centered or there is an anomally in the gear. In any case, you are looking at needing 1 3/4 turns to have balanced rudder control on either tack.

I couldn't get the Monitor to work on my boat below 4k boat speed. Just not enough force on the servo rudder to turn the wheel below that speed. The faster the boat went and the fiercer the weather helm, the better it steered, however. Having an Aires on the last boat that would steer if the boat would make any headway under sail, knew there had to be a way to have full time self steering. Got the opportunity to buy a WindPilot Pacific Plus auxillary rudder system and it's worked wonderfully. Did a mostly DDW sail to Hawaii with relative wind seldom much over 5k and it steered the whole way. The WindPilot is one gear that should steer your boat just fine. Of course, unless you can find one used, they aren't cheap. []WINDPILOT: selfsteering under sail[/]

You can get greater range of input on a Pendulum Servo Vane by setting up a block system so that the vane control lines pull on the part of the multipart tackle that would normally be supplying the mechanical advantage. The line that you'd pull on to control a mainsheet is the line that goes to the wheel. The block that would be attached to the boom would be attached to the vane servopendulum control lines. Probably a two part tackle is as far as you could go but would need to experiment to find the right set up. The more blocks, the greater the movement but the greater force the vane will have to exert to pull on the wheel. The system was explained better than I just did in the installation manual for the Sailomat vane if you can find a copy of one. []SAILOMAT 601[/]
Peter O.
'Ae'a, Pearson 35
'Ms American Pie', Sabre 28 Mark II
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Old 07-12-2012, 05:01   #4
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Re: Aries Wind vane and Worm Gear Steering

you may not be able to get the windvane to work on that type of wheel steering system. I tried a pendulum to wheel system with a hydraulic steering system with 4 turns lock to lock and it just wouldnt work. Ideally a pendulum self steerer is coupled to a tiller. Is there any way you can run the self steering onto an auxilliary or emergency tiller?
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Old 07-12-2012, 15:32   #5
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Re: Aries Wind vane and Worm Gear Steering

Please pardon ignorance but is worm gear the same as rack & pinion.marc
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aries, aries wind vane, gear, steering, wind

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