Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Auto Pilot Repairs and Boat Yoga


Boat repairs and maintenance consume lots of my time and have a noticeable impact on the pocket book.
The beginning of this boating season was no different as I addressed several big projects.

The first one is the autopilot.  Last season we developed a leak in the hydraulic ram that moves the rudder which in turn steers the boat.  I attempted to repair it with new seals but there was still a small leak at the output shaft.
Rather than keep debugging the 20 year old unit I decided to replace it and keep the old one as working spare.

Easy right....  Raymarine has a "Drop in Replacement" right.   Wrong!

Raymarine, type 2  hydraulic auto pilot ram with pump


So the specs on the new unit are very close except....
  1.   The ram is 1.125 inches longer (bad news, have to modify the quadrant tiller arm)
  2.   The mounting holes are too small (that sucks, drill out to the right size)
  3.   The hydraulic hoses come out the back instead of the top (not good, clearance problem with bulkhead, need 90 degree fittings)
  4.   The hose to the fluid reservoir is shorter (dang, need to relocate the hydraulic pump to make things fit)
  5.   They shipped me the wrong quadrant tiller pin. (Oh, make a few calls and have one shipped from England)


My version of "Boat Yoga"
The auto pilot ram lives below the aft bunk of course.  You must take apart the whole bed, sheets, memory foam, mattress and remove the slats to get to it.  I spent hours hunched over sorting out all the workarounds for the "drop in replacement".   There are health benefits to all this work, as I am practicing my own version of exercise with the Yoga Squatting Position, Mālāsana.


Modified quadrant tiller arm to accommodate 1.25 inches longer arm.  And no, it would not have been easier to mount the ram 1.25 inches back. 

So, it is in and it works great.  We have sea trialed it once and will be conducting more sailing and  testing in February.  I'm glad it is done and that we'll have a reliable unit in place that should give us many years of service.  The auto pilot is such a crucial piece of equipment on the boat.  It is like an extra crew member when you are short handed.

Finally installed and ready for action

There are benefits to all the boat projects ; Nancy goes out into town, runs our errands and sees her friends.  She brings back great photos and stories for me to enjoy vicariously.  Here's a photo of the new colorful La Paz sign on the Malecon.




Stay tuned for the next fix it blog entry.
It might be called, "Are black water tanks easy to fix?"  or "Hmmm....what's that smell"

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