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Old 31-01-2014, 01:39   #1

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Tampa to New York
Boat: Morgan 33 OutIsland, Magic and 33' offshore scott design "Cutting Edge"
Posts: 1,594
Rudder Drive Error - AARGH!!!

I guess I could consider myself lucky. At the end of a 5 day solo engineless hop, I get an alarm and autopilot display says Rudder Drive Error and no autopilot function. This is the second time it happened. The first time I redid all the connections and sprayed the ones in the computer with corrosion block after removing and reinstalling thinking it was a connection gone bad. It passed the test putting power to the leads. I was lamenting the $600 price tag of a new reversing pump until I called accusteer (the pump manufacterer). I must say their customer service is spot on.After I told him the pump was 8 yrs old and had around 20,000 miles of sailing on it he said, its probably worn brushes. I was instructed to take the back plate off of the pump and see if there are any brushes left. Bill told me if they are shot just call back and hed send me a new set. If it were more than that send it in and hed check it out and see what needed replacing before moving forward. He also mentioned that they often have remanufactered pumps available for significantly less than a new one. First Im gonna get the engine fired again, a low pressure fuel line rusted thru, then I will check the brushes and report back. I just love it when stuff is serviceable and not considered throwaway junk. I must also commend accusteer for the patience of the service dept as Bill was super helpful on the phone and my opinion was he was looking out for my pocketbook and making things as easy for me as possible, I will report back after I check the brushes and give the complete service experience for those with the same problem in the future, Autopilot is Furuno navpilot 500 , pump is accusteer hrp 11-12. Still feel like someone was looking out for me. I spent 3 days with very light wind doing 1-2kts coming up the coast, Would have drove me batty hand steering 72hrs at that slow speed, It failed less than a half a mile from my destination.
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Old 31-01-2014, 05:40   #2
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Boat: Manta 40 "Reach"
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Re: Rudder Drive Error,,, AARGH!!!

Regardless of drive type, I have found rudder drive errors to be caused in order by:
1) bad solenoid or connection
1.5) worn brushes
10) something else

Even if your brushes look good, check them more carefully. Sometimes they have a stop on them that prevents them from bottoming out so that they still look like they have significant length to them but they are not seating. Also check to make sure they slide in and out of the holder easily and with sufficient force.


You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
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Old 31-01-2014, 11:03   #3
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Location: Lefkas Marina ,Greece
Boat: Bavaria 36
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Re: Rudder Drive Error,,, AARGH!!!

Point 10 is universal on a boat !!!!! LOL

Interested in smart boat technology, networking and all things tech
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Old 31-01-2014, 11:09   #4

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Tampa to New York
Boat: Morgan 33 OutIsland, Magic and 33' offshore scott design "Cutting Edge"
Posts: 1,594
Re: Rudder Drive Error,,, AARGH!!!

Just got done with removing the back plate and servicing the brushes. A small victory I guess, the pilot is working again, the brushes were black on the contact end. I coated the inside with corrosion block. It was quite fun standing on my head and getting everything to line up while reassembling. I ended up tieing the brushes back with some heavy thread, putting a wedge to hold the pump part so it wouldnt move, then lining the floppy bolts up with a tiny screwdriver. Ive been over all the connections, Wondering if a bad solenoid would fail sometimes then not? the first time It failed in the keys I redid the connections and it worked again for a week. I made the mistake of not testing the motor again before I took it apart. i did hook a multimeter up to the feed wires and checked that it was getting good voltage when i pressed the turn button and it reversed voltage when turning the other way. Ive got some running around in the neighbourhood to do in the coming weeks so it will have another chance to fail if its going to before I get offshore alone again. So far with both times it failed it was right before I reached my destination. I do most of my cruising solo and this could be a real pita if It goes out in a far off location.
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Old 31-01-2014, 12:28   #5
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Location: aboard, in Tasmania, Australia
Boat: Sayer 46' Solent rig sloop
Posts: 28,854
Re: Rudder Drive Error,,, AARGH!!!

Carry a spare set of brushes for it. And, if you can, a tiller pilot that you can whack on fast in an emergency, so that you have backup for it. As a singlehander, you can't both fix it and drive the boat at the same time, and you're not always somewhere you can anchor when *stuff* fails.

Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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Old 31-01-2014, 18:27   #6

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Tampa to New York
Boat: Morgan 33 OutIsland, Magic and 33' offshore scott design "Cutting Edge"
Posts: 1,594
Re: Rudder Drive Error,,, AARGH!!!

I sure hear what your sayin. Im working on a windvane purchase/ barter now. Carrying extra brushes is definately a good idea, im considering a spare reversing pump. I installed shut off valves in the lines at the pump so a changeout wouldnt involve disabling the steering while underway, well maybe just for the bleeding and repressurizing of the system. im not sure how i could rig a tillerpilot with hydraulic steering unless i just unhooked the steering arm from the ram and attached it there. You got me thinking though that there is no emergency tiller available. I always thought i could steer standing in the hatch with a pipe on the tiller arm. Gonna have to put some thought into that one. There was some kind of design flaw in that the rudder shaft doesnt line up with a little raised platform that I suppose was meant to be for a cutout for the emergency tiller, The post lines up with the vertical side of the platform. Get out the grinder and glass I guess.
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