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Old 26-06-2022, 08:42   #1
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Boat: Maxi 95
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Wheelpilot hates my new Cables!!

Hi there,

I have had to replace my sailboats steering system from cable to chain/wire. She is a 5,500kg 31ft Maxi 95 monohull.

With the old cable system it was very direct push pull system with no lag but quite heavy. My Wheelpilot Mk2 (paired with ACU-100, EV-1, Rudder transducer and P70S) worked well from UK to Ecuador but the gearbox eventually went, no doubt due to the heavy helm and the number of miles. I replaced the entire Wheelpilot and have done less than 100 miles on it before I had my steering failure.

The new steering system is chain and SS wire (old cables no longer available; new types not appropriate or obtainable in Ecuador). It is lighter on the helm than the previous system and is just under 2 turns lock to lock. However being a wire set up, it is not quite as direct as the previous cabling, as it only pulls. There is a barely discernible lag in the system and the pull is not completely linear, which I understand is a normal thing with wire/Chain set-ups.

Problem: When calibrating the AP using dockside wizard all works fine. During the end of the process when the AP drives the wheel lock to lock, it does so smoothly and without problem.

However after set up, when I put the pilot in Auto and demand turns, the Wheelpilot struggles to turn the wheel. It does so slowly and in fits and starts, as if it was struggling against a very heavy and uneven load.

Attempted rectification:
- Immediately after every time I try the steering by hand and it is light and free.
- The clutch is correctly tensioned. It is not a slipping clutch problem (I have experienced this many times)
- The Wheelpilot is effectively brand new
- If I undo the calibration lock and set the hard over time very low and put the setting to ‘Performance’, this improves but does not eradicate the issue.
- I am out of the water currently so cannot run a sea trial, but on my old steering system, when I have demanded turns whilst static the wheel turns fluidly and smoothly.

Any assistance about why I am having these problems would be very welcome. I can’t work out why the AP suddenly struggles with a steering system that is lighter than its predecessor. I am halfway through a long voyage to NZ, stuck in Ecuador and as a solo sailor I need my electric AP to be functional. (BTW I only use the AP to get into ports and motoring; I have a Hydrovane to do the offshore sailing).

Many thanks,

Henry

P.s. To forestall a number of inevitable well-meaning observations:

- I know the Wheelpilot is only designed for coastal sailing and I do not use it offshore unless motoring in calms.
- The stern is too shallow to fit a ram mounted to the quadrant and I can't afford one (plus the new ACU it would require) - I understand this would be the gold-plated solution!
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Old 27-06-2022, 22:07   #2
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Re: Wheelpilot hates my new Cables!!

Not sure why you have this problem, but you can write/call Raymarine. Their support is pretty decent.
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Old 28-06-2022, 04:59   #3
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Re: Wheelpilot hates my new Cables!!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Henry.
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Old 28-06-2022, 05:45   #4
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Re: Wheelpilot hates my new Cables!!

Is it possible that the AP is sensing the load? If the load is very low it limits the current. You could try providing so e resistance with a bungie cord and see what happens.

Maybe it will work differently when in the water.

As an alternative you could mount a Pelagic Tiller Pilot to drive the wind vane in light winds ir motoring. About $800. Works a treat. Much better than a RM tiller pilot.
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Old 28-06-2022, 12:46   #5
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Re: Wheelpilot hates my new Cables!!

I don't think it senses resistance in any way. I can make it spin even without a wheel attached.
- It could be a configuration issue (did you fully reset the AP?)
- It could be a sensor/compass issue
- It could be the non-linear response
- Could be a faulty unit (AP head, sensors, etc)

One thing i know from installing the rudder sensor is that it needs to be installed thoughtfully with correct/recommended geometry in mind, otherwise the rate and limits of wheel/quadrant/sensor can cause problems.
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