Again, I am in the process of evaluating the electrical self steering systems to complement my windvane. This is as a back up to the windvane as well as light wind steerer.

Initially I was thinking to get the Raymarine wheel pilot, because of the low cost.

Then I start thinking about my emergency tiller, which I do not have any, in case of chain or cable breakage. Although the electrical steering system is not a totally reliable back up system, at least it is something. In the worse case scenario, I can steer using the windvane rudder, which is separate to the boat's own rudder.

Based on the additional criteria, I was thinking about a more robust electric motor driving the quadrant directly. There are a few good ones, namely Raymarine, Furuno, Simrad as well as Jefa (now represented by PYI).

Anyone has any comments and experience to share?

Thank you again.


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Replies to This Discussion


I am guessing that Raymarine has more installation than the others combined.

Which linear drive are you thinking? electric or hydraulic? Any pro and cons?

If you read their selection manual, starting from boat displacement, you can work out the controller, and drive to suit the boat. The control head is personal preference. They have these new range with colour LCD screen. ST 70 I believe. Slightly more expensive than the older model which is similar in shape as the ST60.

Their new controllers are now Gyro equiped. Great.
Definitely don't go "just big enough" on the autopilot. Raymarine has a devoted following so they must be doing something right.

I'm surprised at your friends experience with the people at Whale. We have a Whale and couldn't be happier with either the unit or the support. When we got the unit the owner of the company (and builder of the systems) gave us his personal cell phone number. He just asked that we not call him after midnight. :) I had to call him twice during installation and it was a pleasure to speak (in English) to someone who really knew what we were talking about.

s/v Veranda
Another website discussion on AP worth reading is the SSCA.
The more I read about this topic the more obvious is the message.

Get one that is robust. May not be the cheapest, but in the longer run it will be money better spend.

Now I am leaning towards the Furuno 511 + B&G all in one hyraulic linear drive. Anyone with some experience on these combination?

Thank you,
I think you should first get yourself an emergency tiller. Then perhaps think about an electric tiller mounted auto pilot. On KILLICK, our Cal 34, we have two. Our primary is an autohelm 1000. It's about 20 years old and does the job 99% of the time perfectly. Our backup is an autohelm 4000st. The 4000 is faster and more powerfull and does a much better job in heavy weather. Electrical consumption is minimal at just 1 to 2 amps.
Today autohelm is owned by Raymarine.


One small dilemma though. The remaining rudder shaft that stick out above the quadrant is only so much. When it is taken by the hydraulic ram arm, nothing will be left for the emergency steering.

I think I will make one anyway. I saw what it looks like in a commercially made new yachts. Just a carbon steel female hole + key welded to a carbon steel bent tube. Painted. That is it. Should be easy to make.

After that I will still have an electrical auto pilot. I suspect that the following seas will be to hard for the windvane to cope. Or when there is very little wind there is not enough wind force for the wind vane to work.

The longer term cruisers seemed to steer away from Raymarine. Too light weight? Please do not take this too personally.
One of the challenges is that there are few people in a position to make meaningful comparisons between different systems all on the same model boat. Instead, you get a list of what has worked or hasn't worked; you still have to make some assumptions in order to draw useful conclusions.

My personal opinion is that Raymarine is on so many boats because boat builders get a good deal from RM on complete systems and the new owner gets all the same brand stuff. There just isn't anyone else who makes everything. That isn't necessarily bad, and has some integration benefit, but I don't think Raymarine has so a big market share because they are best.

That said, I have all RM on my boat (just over 40' 22000#). *grin* The a/p is Type 2 mechanical linear drive, the older S2G core pack, and the ST7001G control head. I was originally going to put a second control head under the dodger with all my other instruments but ultimately chose to get a wireless control instead.

I've been very happy with the performance. There are a lot of adjustments available (I often have to review the manual). Tweaking had greatly reduced hunting and thus power draw when offshore. I can't remember what RM calls the two parameters but fundamentally you are adjusting the hysteresis of the control loop. Inshore where I am less sensitive to power consumption I reset to the factory defaults which do great for holding course but run the drive a bit more.

If you hook the a/p up to a full set of sailing instruments you get a windvane mode that is really nice. The system tracks the wind like a vane with the added nicety of beeping at you if the average wind direction changes more than about 20 degrees.

The wireless unit is convenient and fun. It runs through a lot of batteries when you leave it on for an extended time. Offshore in bad weather it is a god-send to not have to lean out from under the dodger to make a/p adjustments. Well worth two AA batteries every day or so. When the weather is nice I tend not to use the remote but reach for the helm-mounted a/p control head.

Note that all my instruments are over the companionway and the chartplotter is beside the companionway under the dodger. This makes a comfortable watch position with protection. The a/p control head is at the helm and is the only instrument there (other than engine stuff).

Furuno makes good equipment but I have no personal experience with their a/p.

I've run across rather little Simrad equipment, but the owners I have met have been happy with their stuff.

In my personal opinion B&G is coasting on a reputation from years gone by. I don't think the value is consistent with their pricing.

Definitely work out a solution that gives you a manual emergency tiller with a long enough tiller that you can actually steer the boat.
Finally I have made the decision on the selection of the Hydraulic Ram Linear Drive.

To select the size of the ram drive, you have to know the rudder dimension and the angle of the rudder movement. A good procedure was written by L&S of France. Go to for the procedure.

Based on the formula L&S provides, Oleana needs a 50 kg.m torque linear drive.

I end up selecting a B&G RAM-T0-12V for her.

Now the selection of the Autopilot itself continues.

Angle of inclusion of Auto Pilot Hydraulic Ram:

Another interesting point reading Ram manufacturer manuals, all recommend or show as example the 70 degree ram arm inclusion angle. Some slightly less than that.

I am guessing this is to be on the safe side. Since it is the smallest angle, so it will never go against the mechanical stops.

Anyone has any experience in installing the hydraulic rams?

What angle to use?

How to prepare the bases for the hydraulic ram?

Hear from you.
Has anyone got a photo of how your Hydraulic Ram is mounted on your boat?

I am trying to visualize the installation of my ram.

Forward Aft or across the boat? How strong the mounting pad have to be in order not to fail under heavy following seas?

Any references or guidelines I can refer to?

Thanks for your help.
Hi Howard,
Ever thought about just attaching a tiller pilot to your windvane? I've heard that that can be a great way to save elec and keep it simple. Also, it in effect makes the windvane an emergency tiller of sorts....
Captain Rick,

Yes I though of that.

In principle, I read somewhere, that the 2 different types will complement each. Wind mode using the windvane in medium to stronger wind, and the electric during motoring as well as lighter winds. I like to see which one will work better in a following sea. I suspect the Gyro will have a quicker response.

End up with a Furuno display and computer + B&G T0 Hydraulic Ram (see my link to Oleana website for more details). I selected it because it was on Sale, and because it looked attractive without the hoses flying everywhere. But the dis-advantage is that it did not come with any instruction on how to add Hydraulic fluid. Surely B&G is not expecting the we will always call one of their serviceman in the middle of nowhere to fill up hydraulic fluid.

Still in the process of installing the ram and the computer box. A slow process in a small boat. Has to relocate a lot of cables behind the fusepanel to create enough space for the computer. Typical slow project. Since I am not in a hurry to go anywhere yet.

Thanks for your suggestion.



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