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Old 31-10-2009, 20:37   #1
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Raytheon Autopilot on an Ocean Passage?

My 2002 Beneteau 393 is fitted with a Raytheon ST6000+ linear-drive Auto Pilot (the type which is/was standard equipment on The Moorings/Beneteau charter boats). I'll be sailing the boat from Santa Cruz, CA to Kaneohe Bay, HI in Sept 2010; and, returning to SC the following Spring. I'm considering using the auto pilot as the primary self-steering device on these passages.
Has anyone had experience using this type of auto pilot on an open ocean passage? I'm interested to know how it performed; what type of problems were encountered, etc. Any information and/or recommendations are appreciated.
Fair Winds,
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Old 31-10-2009, 21:48   #2
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Electric Autopilots use a lot of power.

Have a dedicated set of batteries and charger......and a genset....

Don't axe me how I know......
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:04   #3
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Sure people do it all the time and they work nicely. As Chief Engineer says it's not free though, you need some way to power it!

The calibration of the unit as well as the settings used (response level for example) will have a large impact on the amount of power used. Sail trim and point of sail will too - the trick to saving power is by getting the autopilot to do as little work as possible.

Parts do fail and many people bring along extra drives. Course computers and control heads have been known to fail too. These aren't cheap to have spares of though!
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:22   #4
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No problem, but good to have a spare drive unit. (Or know how to service yours + spares).

Make sure it is calibrated, make sure you understand the settings, this way you can limit the amount of electricity they use.

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Old 01-11-2009, 09:18   #5
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1. Bring backups for everything you can--Raytheon is not known for its reliability.
2. Haunt Ebay for cheaper parts.
3. Replace the drive motor brushes before you leave.
4. Plan the electrical system use on about 75 amp-hours per day.
5. Test the unit at the dock and under sail:
-make a close inspection of the drive mount and rudder connections and beef up/repair any movement.
-Monitor amperage to the unit--it should not draw more than about 5 amps peak on a typical wave, and it is peaking at more than 10 amps you either have a problem with the drive or you are overloading the pilot and it is likely going to fail quickly.
- check voltage at the unit under load (manual rudder movement while you are giving it some resistance on the steering wheel--if you are losing more than 0.5 volts from the batteries to the input terminals, check/beef up the power wiring

6. Go over all electrical connections, clean up the contacts, and make sure that water cannot get into them.

7. Take shorter passages of at least 48 hours to make sure your electrical system and autopilot are working and up to the demands of a long passage.

I can't get the recent ARC equipment surveys for free anymore, but the chances are over 50% that you will have some autopilot/electrical problems if you just cut the docklines and head for Hawaii. If you take steps 3-7, you will cut the chances down to about 10%, and if you DO THE WORK YOURSELF, you may learn enough to diagnose and fix the problems that occur. If self-steering is not an option, put in a complete backup system, like another autopilot or a windvane.
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:18   #6
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They work fine, just need to run generator once a day to keep batteries up. Mine have brushes that have to be replaced every 1-2 years depending on how rough the passages are and mileage. Ussually keep two sets on boat,can replace them yourself, parts kind of an issue I CANNOT FIND BRUSHES for motor and raymarine is no help.
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:34   #7
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The Raymarine part # for the brushes is A18113 or so they told me. I opened the box yesterday to replace the brushes before I left for the islands and they were not the right ones. It is also important to remove the brushes and blow out the rotor with compressed air as the carbon will accumulate and the moter will stop. Raymarine service on the net gave me the part # and shipped the brushes; I have a message with them now pending. I have acomplete spair drive unit on the boat (not the computer) to replace any thing that breaks but havn't used any parts in 5 years and ~20k miles.
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:42   #8
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I used my 6000st liner drive for 12 years. Had to replace the control unit two years ago. Sail trim goes along way to conserving power.
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Old 01-11-2009, 19:34   #9
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Thank you all for your very helpful advice. I have experience with self-steering windvanes on long ocean passages; this will be a first with and electric auto pilot. I look forward (I think) to "digging into" the unit to do preventive maintenance prior to casting off the docklines. Again, much thanks for your wise consul.
Mahalo and Fair Winds,
Rick Hamill
B393 Pilialoha
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Old 02-11-2009, 15:50   #10
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In my experience of three long distance deliveries with boats fitted with these units , they are very reliable, The main issue is sometimes the output drive motor transistors blow, but I think raymarine beefed these up.

We did an atlantic crossing, and only needed 2 hours of engine running a day plus we had a aguagen towed generator, no problem keeping the autopilot powered. You do need however to trim the boat to avoid aq lot of yawing as this comsumes the most power
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autopilot, raytheon

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