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[TG11] Upgrading from a Wheel Pilot
02-23-19, 12:23 AM (This post was last modified: 02-23-19 08:47 AM by Chuck - Raymarine - Moderator.)
Post: #1
[TG11] Upgrading from a Wheel Pilot
I fitted a Raymarine Mark 2 wheelpilot to my Swarbrick 38 about 6 years ago.

On further investigation appreciated that in an effort to save $ I have wheel pilot is not suitable for a yacht of this size.

The wheel pilot copes under motor and in gentle conditions (10 knots) and small swell but does not cope under sail in great than 10 knots or in anything other than small seas.

Its time to upgrade, as we are off to do some serious cruising up the NSW coast.

What below deck auto pilot would you recommend for a 38ft sailing vessel with cable steering.

I would like to salvage what we can from the existing system to save $.

The wheelpilot was package containing the P70 control head, Fluxgate compass but no rudder reference.

I have since purchased an Axiom chart plotter which is on the NMEA backbone with the P70, fluxgate compass and wireless instruments (linked via the wireless interface).


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02-26-19, 07:45 PM
Post: #2
RE: [TG11] Upgrading from a Wheel Pilot
Hello Duncan,

Alongside the drive, you'll also need to change the electronics that provides the drive output to that drive.

6 years ago we were changing over from the then-retiring SPX range to the new Evolution range so you could have either electronics in your system (p70 and wheeldrive will work with either generation.) We don't have any stock of the SPX range any longer, so if that's what's on board then you'll need to upgrade (and it is a significant upgrade) to the Evolution range. This means changing the SPX course computer to an Evolution ACU and also changing the fluxgate compass for the EV1 solid-state heading sensor core. Or, of course, sourcing a second-hand SPX model.

There are two main options as far as drive type goes: Linear or Rotary. Linear drives acting directly on the quadrant are preferable, but are only suitable if you can back-drive the steering: that is, if you shove the quadrant, the wheel spins freely. This isn't always the case, and if the steering just goes tight and locks up when you push the quadrant then you'll need a rotary drive instead which connects via a chain to an additional sprocket at the base of the binnacle.
As well as the drive design, there is also a choice to be made about the drive power. We do Type 1 drives that are suitable for a *fully laden* displacement of 10,000kg (fully laden displacement on cruising boats is often at least 20% above the design or published weight) maximum, less if the system's being used for extended short-handed passage-making or offshore. After a Type 1 drive there's a Type 2, and then Type 3. At a guess based on the size I'd say you're likely to be on the upper limit for a T1, more likely a T2, but the weight on the travel-lift when she last was lifted is the real guide. I would always recommend going one bigger if you're going to be using the drive offshore (can't run for port when the sea picks up) or short-handed using the pilot for long periods.

If you can get away with a T1 then you can use an SPX10 (retired generation) or ACU200 (current, alongside EV1 sensor), whereas if you need a T2 drive then that requires an SPX30 or ACU400 (which can supply the extra current that the more powerful drives require.)

For either set of electronics the p70 can remain, and if you have an Evolution pilot (EV-100 Wheel) now then the EV1 also remains.

To find out what electronics you have now, look in Menu > Setup > Diagnostics > About System.


Raymarine since 1999.
Interests: Diagnosis of problems in sonar/fishfinders, NMEA2000, ethernet comms, autopilots, thermal cameras
Location: Sydney, Australia.

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03-29-19, 05:06 PM (This post was last modified: 04-01-19 10:20 AM by Chuck - Raymarine - Moderator.)
Post: #3
RE: [TG11] Upgrading from a Wheel Pilot
Hello Tom this is a really helpful and comprehensive reply. Looks like I will need to save my pennies and largely replace what I have.


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