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Old 30-04-2023, 13:35   #1
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Tiller Pilot Locations

The manual (Raymarine or Simrad) both state that the rudder stock to tiller pin mounting distance should be 18 inches for all boats. I think it is obvious on the face of it that 18-foot day boats and 35-foot keel boats don't steer exactly the same, so a one-size-fits-all formula is not going to work properly for everyone, only those toward the center of the range.


I've spent some time going through the geometry and forces (engineer), and after consideration I repositioned the tiller pilot pin on my F-24 to 14 inches. Big improvement, and the push rod load is still trivial on this very light and responsive boat. (Raymarine ST2000) I should have done this years ago. I've read of mountings as short as 12 inches on small (18-20 feet) boats, but I don't use that much tiller angle when tacking.



I also had one installed a very similar Simrad TP22 my Stiletto 27 at a monstrous 42 inches and it still worked pretty well (mounting problems, 30 years ago, long story). It would not autotack, but it was rock solid for motoring and sailing. In fact, at the higher speeds of this boat (it motored at 10-12 knots most of the time) it was better. But it was still good at 6 knots with stock gain settings (I could have increased the gain).


---


So, if you are thinking of using a tiller pilot either with an emergency rudder or to drive an emergency tiller, won't you get better power and longevity if you increase the leverage, up to about 4 feet? You will lose the autotack function (the throw will be too short), but for these applications I doubt you care about that.

  • I'm not guessing, as stated above.
  • I saw two tiller pilot mountings on an Open 50 set up for singlehanding at the Annapolis boat show (Global Solo Challenge). One was for the emergency rudder, and the other was on the main tiller (they have a below deck autopilot, but everything can break). Not a dumb guy, so I don't want to be the first to say he was wrong.
  • You can adjust damping and gain functions to compensate for the lost throw, so long as you are sailing a course, not tacking.
How much leverage should you chose, depending on boat size.




I've heard or people using these for backup on larger boats and being dissatisfied with durability, but I'm thinking they did it wrong. Hey, they followed the instruction ... but since the boat was outside the stated size range, the instructions were not strictly applicable, so following them is not automatically correct.



Also, it should be obvious that you should balance the boat as well as possible first, even though that will cost you some speed. Reef the main early upwind, sail jib-only downwind. Obvious.
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Old 30-04-2023, 13:44   #2
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Just installed a ST2000 on the Santa Cruz 27. Followed their instructions, but in the process of moving the pin on the tiller toward the rudder shaft because it needs more throw. Boat only weighs 3000 pounds and loads are minimal.
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Old 30-04-2023, 15:45   #3
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

I'm on my 4th tiller pilot.

Navico that came with the boat lost overboard during heavy weather when I had to take the tiller quickly before the boat rounded up into the wind.

Simrad got worn out from me having to recalibrate it for port/starboard operation. It was too long.

Raymarine ST2000 bearing keeper sloop from too much pressure after 4 years

I'm on my second Raymarine ST2000 and checking into Pelagic (photo attached) or Windpilot Pacific Light Windvane

https://www.windpilot.com/







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Old 30-04-2023, 15:47   #4
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

I have had reliability problems with the ST2000 and have moved to the Pelagic. They give about the same mounting instructions but they also have a variety of rams available.

I would try talking to them, they may have a ram with a longer throw.

On the Pelagic they have the functions in 3 separate packages.
Control head
Current controller
Ram, of various configurations

I have found them to be helpful.
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Old 30-04-2023, 15:55   #5
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

You could also get an extra set of pins so that you could choose the position as conditions warrant
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Old 30-04-2023, 17:53   #6
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

When we bought our tiller steered PSC 34 in 2004 it came with a Simrad TP-30 that was mounted closer to the rudder shaft than the recommended 18". (I am away from the boat and don't remember the original distance, but the holes are still there.) We had one or two failures of the ball screw in the tiller pilot with the TP-30. When the TP-32 came out we bought one, but its ball screw failed on our way back from the Bahamas to North Carolina. We came into Charleston and bought a second to get home. Simrad later replaced the failed one giving us a spare, and I moved the location to the recommended 18". Since then, no ball screw failures.

The telling tale is to grab the tiller at the point that the tillerpilot is operating and try sailing the boat yourself. You'll then get some sympathy for the tillerpilot and the job it is being asked to do.

Changing the location of the tillerpilot does change the value of the best "response control" (gain). I set ours by jotting down the values of the electronic compass biggest port and starboard heading deviations over a half hour or so of sailing, then choosing a "response control" setting to minimize that.

The software version of the TP-32 matters. Newer is better, I think. It is easily updated on line.

We don't tack with the tillerpilot. It just stay set for hours and hours, sometimes days and days.
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Old 30-04-2023, 18:01   #7
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBP View Post
You could also get an extra set of pins so that you could choose the position as conditions warrant

A question that is on-topic.


In fact, I drew up a bunch of geometries and tried several.

  • I am going to keep the (incorrect) dealer installation locations at 21 inches. It seems to be more stable off the wind and at high speeds. Yes, you can adjust the gain and damping, but moving the pilot is MUCH easier in the field with the boat bouncing.
  • I tested keeping the socket in the 21" location and moving the push rod to a pin at 14 inches. You do need to extend the rod about 3/4-inch to keep the tiller centered (easy) and auto tack is not quite as good because the angle of the compass to the boat changes during the stroke. But it aint' bad. I would do that first if I hated drilling holes in the boat. You might even move the pin a few inches farther out for better leverage and/or lower gain.
But the gist of the question was "why not locate it much farther out on a big boat?" That's why big boat tillers are long.
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Old 30-04-2023, 18:22   #8
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

checking the prices on the windvane pacific light seems to be around $2000?
if so, it is a very nice price for a windvane.

I always have a windvane, cannot imagine sailing distances without one.
in my old Tartan 34 used a Fleming.

In my current boat found a Monitor used for a reasonable price and went ahead.

But need to consider we still need an electronic steering system, the windvane is just a beautiful way for self steering, yet there are times need to use the electronic, then need to add $$$ it to the windvane cost.

Doing the numbers is difficult, it depends on what kind of sailing and distances involved may or not be economic, during my 5 years cruising the Tartan used and replaced 3 Autohelm, in addition to the Fleming, felt the cost was reasonable.

They usually failed on getting water into the electronics.

Pelagic as an alternative is something I consider, discussed the unit with Suzie from Scanmar, and I am convinced is the most reliable unit available.
Cost is high.

At the end of this season, if still cruising, will more likely replace my Raymarine with a Pelagic.

like always tough choices

PS
talked about windvanes since the consideration of it was mentioned, otherwise I will be off-topic.

PS 2

I know it is painful to write checks, but if a tiller autopilot lasts 4 years, considering the cost of replacement may have to be considered regular? cost of maintenance? if that saves installing more expensive and complicated systems, just saying.
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Old 30-04-2023, 18:31   #9
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Thinwater,

I think that my situation might answer your question.

On a fairly heavy boat (7.5 tons), I use a Raymarine (K-mart) wheel pilot on a wheel with 6 turns stop-to-stop. This is similar your proposed scenario with a long tiller because the vast majority of wheels are set up for less than half as many turns.

Yes, a wheel pilot has infinite "throw", but when the wheel pilot is steering a straight course, only a few degrees of rudder is used.

The bottom line: The wimpy autopilot has no trouble steering the boat and the much reduced loads (on the autopilot) means the unit will probably last much longer.

Steve
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Old 30-04-2023, 19:20   #10
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBP View Post
You could also get an extra set of pins so that you could choose the position as conditions warrant
Where did you get the extra pins?
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Old 30-04-2023, 20:08   #11
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Thinwater I love people like yourself who read the instruction manuals. I have installed a few tiller pilots and never knew that there's a correct distance for the pin. For me it's always been about the best position in the cockpit for the unit to be mounted. I have always been happy with the tiller pilot performance.
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Old 30-04-2023, 20:22   #12
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

One thing to bear in mind if you mount the tiller pilot further from the rudder axis is that the reduced applied rudder angle could mean it takes longer for the boat to respond. During that time the ST or TP will be at the extreme limit of its travel. This can also can apply if you have excessive weather helm.



This is not a problem for the Simrads as they have stall detection to de-energise the motor and just hold position. But the Raymarine ST1000/2000 rubbish do not have any such protection, and the motor will remain energised until the boat responds and the ST sees the required change of course. The result of this over extended periods can be variously: burnt-out motor, stripped cogged drive belt, damaged bearing supports, overheated main power diode (on old PCB's - I had one that melted the solder and fell off!), broken bits jamming the flux-gate, and unscrewed-falling-off ram. This overloading is probably neck-and-neck with water entry as the commonest cause of ST failure.



I've experienced them all and have fitted limit switches to my latest ST2000+, and it has worked like a dream for years now.


Frequent readers of this forum will I'm sure recognise and be sick of my tiller pilot rants, and frankly I'm a bit tired of it myself, but users keep having the same problems so I feel compelled to add my bit of information. To repeat: ST1000/2000's have no end-of-travel protection, but TP12/22/32's do.

Shame Raymarine, shame!



Cheers, Graeme
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Old 30-04-2023, 21:33   #13
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
Where did you get the extra pins?

  • You can by them from either Raymarine or Simrad (they are interchangable).
  • You can make one from a 1/4-inch bolt with a drill, file, and sandpaper in minutes. A drill press makes it easier. Or a lathe if you are fancy. The sockets can also be purchase ... or made from a drilled-out 1/4-inch brass pipe nipple.
And in support and expanding on what lockie said (he's dead right about the limit switches--so obvious), the boat should be well balanced before using pretty much any autosteering tool. If you are hitting the limits because of heavy weather helm, you have not adjusted the sails properly. Reef and trim as needed. Also, if you are carrying more than ~ 4 degrees of weather helm (about 1-inch of tiller at 18 inches) you are sailing poorly and need to make adjustments. Your rudder is a brake.
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Old 30-04-2023, 22:35   #14
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Re: Tiller Pilot Locations

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
I'm on my second Raymarine ST2000 and checking into Pelagic (photo attached) or Windpilot Pacific Light Windvane
Looks like you will have to move the outboard to the starboard unfortunately, but the Pacific light would be a nice choice. Tax free for US should help cover the shipping costs.

There is an alternative from a Dutch company which is fascinating and even lighter. We see them occasionally on yachts over here.

https://shop.windvaneselfsteering.co...roller=product

I have no actual data but the Pacific range are probably the most common on the south coast of the UK.

Pete
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