Oh How I have felt your pain. The Aries
I previously rebuilt did the same thing. I posted the same questions back when I was cursing the old one on the beach in Mexico
. Start sailing BAM over to one side then nothing even if you move the vane by hand, then it finally creeps from one side, centers and BAM over to the other side. (curse spit exclamation) We finally got it sorted.
A couple of things that you need to know:
One- If you are attempting to get the thing to work
while motoring along, forget it. For some reason that just does not work. I am unsure why because in theory it shouldnt make any difference with a decent wind. It does though. But motoring doesnt cause the slam thing, just thought you should know because no one ever seems to mention this.
Two - Even though they may seem free and clear, check the needle bearings (little plastic needles) in the vane holder mount. Be careful they fall out pretty easily. Plug
up the cockpit
drains if you are pulling it apart on the boat. These fill with gunk and it is hard to tell if the holder is free enough even though it moves and you are thinking "looks loose enough to me." Its not. On their website they say these rarely get gunked up, but that was the last piece of the puzzle for me. And it will cause the slam to one side thing, or will cause it to slam to one side, then cross over to the other and slam, back and forth like a pendulum. Not good.
Three - If after cleaning
the bearings out it still does not work, have a look at the gear
teeth. If you did a rebuild
and put the gear
teeth wrong way around (easily done) you will get the "slam to one side and stay there" thing happening. When you should have the rudder
shimmying back and forth like a happy little fish
while staying basically in the middle. Gear teeth should be facing front not back.
Four - A reef in the main makes things work better/ steer a straighter course. Downwind the speed difference is not huge since you wind up blanketing the genoa
a bit with a full main.
But when everything is the way it should be it steers like a dream and is built like a tank. And you know that aside from a battleship broadside the thing will work no matter what (unlike say an ST xxx autopilot
that beeps irritatingly mocking your decision to go offshore
in a jalopy when it packs up and dies).
Good luck, and any more questions please let me know. I Know all the bits to these things now after rebuild
#2. Also good to know is that you can use the monitor windvane
manual that is available as a freee download to understand these things a bit better. It is by far the best resource out there. The monitor
and the aries
are basially the same thing but with different linkages and made of different stuff, but the principle is the same.