Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

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aquaplane
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Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby aquaplane » Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:02 pm

The Autohelm 4000 on Seminole doesn't work and I want it to.

In the first instance I want someone to look at the existing (1982) setup and see if it can be fixed.

If it can't I want to replace what needs replacing hopefully reusing the hydraulic bits.

The Raymarine site suggests dealers at most yachting centers on the West Coast.

Any recommendations or warnings who to avoid?
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Shuggy » Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:11 pm

Try The Service Centre.

www.theservicecentre.eu

The Service Centre, Maritime House, Ryan Business Centre, Sandford Lane, Wareham, Dorset. BH20 4DY

Service Department Tel: 44 (0) 1929 554558

I haven't used them but I know people who do, and who rate them.
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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Pete Cooper » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:10 am

My brother spent a lot of money with BEE at Kip and must have been satisfied as he went back several times for further work.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby aquaplane » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:02 pm

Shuggy wrote:Try The Service Centre.

http://www.theservicecentre.eu

The Service Centre, Maritime House, Ryan Business Centre, Sandford Lane, Wareham, Dorset. BH20 4DY

Service Department Tel: 44 (0) 1929 554558

I haven't used them but I know people who do, and who rate them.


I was thinking along the lines of a chap coming aboard so someone local was my preference.

There is a control unit, fluxgate compass, hydraulic pump, hydraulic ram and a junction box with electronics in connecting things together. Sending it to someone isn't an option.

Thanks for the suggestion though.
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby aquaplane » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:04 pm

Pete Cooper wrote:My brother spent a lot of money with BEE at Kip and must have been satisfied as he went back several times for further work.

BEE seem to be the Raymarine dealer at Kip, I'll contact them in the first instance. TVM
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Shuggy » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:14 pm

aquaplane wrote:I was thinking along the lines of a chap coming aboard so someone local was my preference.

There is a control unit, fluxgate compass, hydraulic pump, hydraulic ram and a junction box with electronics in connecting things together. Sending it to someone isn't an option.

Thanks for the suggestion though.


Sorry - was thinking that you had perhaps isolated it to be an electronics issue and could therefore send off the affected gubbins. How about posting the details of the symptoms here or YBW and see if anyone could help you? However if (a) just not working at all, or (b) you don't mind spending £ on professional help, then ignore me ;-)
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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby aquaplane » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:31 pm

Well, I would prefer not to just throw money at it but being a realist there may be an aspect of that in the solution.

I found a letter from Raymarine to Dad saying they had had a look at the controller and found nothing wrong with it. Mum is 81 and can't remember what Dad did in the past, but may remember next week, or next month, or never.

Symptoms, I point the boat in the right direction and press Set, 15 to 30 seconds later I press Duty and the tiller immediately goes full left and the boat heads Starboard. I can correct it by manually steering with the hydraulic wheel and get the boat pointing the right direction, but the Autohelm doesn't even attempt to do the job when I relax.
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby sahona » Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:24 am

Don't know your particular unit, but the symptoms point to a compass issue I think. Cables OK? No new gas cylinders (or whatever) stored above the fluxgate?
http://trooncruisingclub.org/ 20' - 30' Berths available, Clyde.
Cruising, racing, maintenance facilities. Go take a look, you know you want to.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Shuggy » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:30 pm

I'm no expert but I have done quite a lot of fault-finding with my own (older) Raymarine/Autohelm unit. Do you get an error on the display, or does it think everything is ok?

If it thinks everything is ok (at least, until it realises that the actuator output is not making any difference to the heading) then it perhaps points at an actuator problem?

If you're relatively confident, then there is a basic set of fault-finding steps in this manual:

http://www.ganssle.com/jack/st4000.pdf

Para 4.1 sets out the steps for checking the tiller drive actuator.
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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby aquaplane » Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:24 pm

It would help if I gave the right info, it's an Autohelm 5000 like in this manual

http://www.fujiyachts.net/manuals/Autoh ... er%202.PDF

There is no display, just a couple of LEDs on the control unit.

We do have an auxiliary control panel but no wind vane or hand held remote.

I have been pointed towards the compass before but when testing it I watched the fluxgate readout and it agreed with the ships compass, it changed as the heading changed too. The fluxgate readout is an analogue dial job. The manual seems to think that the compass within the control unit should be able to manage alone, if I knew how to I could disconnect the Sowester type 140 to see if that helps.

I have scoured the operating instructions for a procedure similar to the driving round in two slow circles I had to do with the Tiller Pilot 2000+ but it doesn't seem to be required.
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Shuggy » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:15 pm

Given what you've said it sounds like...

(a) the ram feedback system might not be working (not sure what kind of mechanism it is)

or

(b) the drive system might not working

I would start by removing all plugs and other connectors, cleaning them all up & putting them back on. It could be as simple as a corroded fitting. If that doesn't work, the professional option might be the best one if you're not into dismantling stuff!
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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby aquaplane » Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:51 pm

Shuggy wrote:I would start by removing all plugs and other connectors, cleaning them all up & putting them back on. It could be as simple as a corroded fitting. If that doesn't work, the professional option might be the best one if you're not into dismantling stuff!


That will be my next action.

I can dismantle stuff but not electronics.

It must be a feedback problem if the controller gives full right rudder as soon as it's put into control mode. AFAIK the only sensor is the compass, I'll climb in the locker and look at the quadrant again to see if I can find a rudder position sensor. The instructions say that the system is capable of applying a trim to maintain a set course if the balance changes so I can't see how it needs a rudder position sensor if it's controlling on heading not rudder setting.
Seminole.
Cheers Bob.

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Shuggy » Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:15 pm

Hands up - I know nothing specifically about autopilots but I am an engineer. The control box must have to know where the ram is in order to function*. So there must be something inside the ram that tells the box where it is - and if that's not working, nothing will. If it doesn't know the current ram extension then it can't decide what to do next. That may well be the issue - either a corroded fitting (likely) or a bust feedback mechanism (less likely).

Just my thoughts, which any sane person would ignore ;-)

* Because the manual doesn't refer to a rudder position sensor.
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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby Fingal » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:12 am

We had progressive problems with our old Autohelm for a couple of years so this spring we took professional advice. Robert from BEE digagnosed a steering computer FUBAR and no longer supported. We bit the bullet and shelled out quite a lot to have much of it replaced. The electrical actuator and rudder position sensor were OK so we 'only' needed a new computer and control head, oh and a thingy to allow the older seatalk instruments and plotter and the newer seatalk autopilot to talk to each other. The bill was about £2.5k, including installation, not so painful when that's split 3 ways among the owners but nevertheless it's a relief have parted with that much to say that it works extremely well and feels like money well spent. Certainly nothing to complain of in our dealings with BEE. The device is now known as Robert the robot in tribute to the installer.
Ken
Fulmar 32 Fingal

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Re: Autopilot fix or replace, who to go to?

Postby cpedw » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:48 am

Shuggy wrote:Hands up - I know nothing specifically about autopilots but I am an engineer. The control box must have to know where the ram is in order to function*. So there must be something inside the ram that tells the box where it is - and if that's not working, nothing will. If it doesn't know the current ram extension then it can't decide what to do next. That may well be the issue - either a corroded fitting (likely) or a bust feedback mechanism (less likely).

Just my thoughts, which any sane person would ignore ;-)

* Because the manual doesn't refer to a rudder position sensor.

Not wanting to start a spat but I have had several autopilots. Two that I dealt with (ST2000 tiller and ST4000 wheel) didn't have a rudder or ram position feedback. The 4000 suggested that a rudder position sensor would improve performance. The 2000 had limit switches to stop the motor at extreme travel. I replaced the 4000 with something more modern that insisted on having a rudder position sensor.

Not much help though I'm afraid.
Derek


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