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Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

A forum for discussing boat or trailer repairs or modifications that you have made or are considering.

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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Fri May 19, 2017 10:57 am

Many thanks BOAT, I picked up a new RM st2000 for £192, it was a warranty replacement for a guy who's boat was wrecked before he got around to fitting it and now he's quit sailing due to ill health.

Anyway I'm trying to shoe-horn it into my rear berth; as its a standalone unit it's fairly large.

I've sourced a variety of sizes of solid aluminium balls (3/4 - 2"), ready tapped from 4 - 12mm.

So my main issue is finding something that will fit in the 11/16" UNF end of the ram.

Another issue is the receiver for the ball; we don't seem to have set screw connectors over here. I guess I'll have to use some plumbing part.

I think I'll probably extend my starboard tiller, as you did, not only for the leverage (RM recommend 18" for the st2000), but as my unit will be above your hardwood shelf I need to bridge the vertical gap between the ram and the tiller.

My plan is to share the extra stress by lowering the shelf slightly at one end and also putting a couple of bends in your tiller extension, forward of the tie bar, at the other end.

Actually thinking about the geometry, if my tiller length is 18" and my ram can only swing it 4.85" in either direction that does sound like too much rudder movement. I guess with our small rudders I should keep it closer to 14"
Last edited by MikeFloutier on Sat May 20, 2017 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Fri May 19, 2017 11:58 am

The whole point of going thru the hassle of a gadget that allows you to disengage the unit is so that you can get your full rudder swing back.

The tiller drive unit will never allow full rudder swing - that's not the way tiller drives work: remember - the original design of tiller drives is that your in the cockpit with your tiller and when you are ready to engage the drive you attach it to your tiller right there in the cockpit - no drive in the world will be able to reach all the way over to the full starboard side and then full over to the port side because the piston tube itself always need to be at least as long as the piston itself! The piston can't retract in further than the length of the tube! And the piston cant extend further than the length of the tube (the piston would fall out of the tube!)

This is the normal drawback of a tiller drive.

Since your going to be able to disengage I wholly recommend you make the tiller length whatever the manufacture recommends - if you make it too short the drive will not have enough leverage and will "drop out" at the worst times (in heavy seas or fighting a bad wind) Not a good thing - give the tiller drive all the leverage and power it needs to do a good job. If they want 18 give it 18.

Your job is to figure out a way to disengage when you need the full rudder swing. I know I am disengaging my tiller drive pretty much every time I get on the helm so it needs to be a reliable and robust system that is very fast and easy to operate.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Fri May 19, 2017 5:35 pm

Thanks BOAT, that makes good sense, I'm all the more determined to make sure I have a viable connect/disconnect system.

Regarding the suggested 18" tiller length, I understand what you're saying but the problem is that they also stipulate that the ram drive should be at 90 degrees to the tiller.

I'm guessing that this is a geometry issue. In my case this would locate the ram's anchorage (on the engine well liner) some 5 inches aft of the extended tiller ends. It would also result in the ram anchorage having to shift to starboard.

I'll have to check this further tomorrow with pins and string to see what effect it would have.

I suppose I could make your mahogany shelf a bit deeper (as well as lower); not sure how the liner would feel about that although it's interesting to note that RM have a 5 inch pedestal mod for mounting the unit but that's designed to go onto a deck so....
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Fri May 19, 2017 6:09 pm

You could go with the older type mounting that mac owners used before : I think it was kadet, and kurz, and some others that did these tiller drive installations years before I ever attempted it and they mounted their drive units right on wooden blocks they cemented to the sides of the hull. With that system you can make the tiller arm any length you want.

You would need to search the forum for auto pilot tiller drive installations - I know there are a few of them that are much older than mine (those guys are the real pioneers - they were the first ones to mount tiller drive AP's on the MAC.)

You should look at their designs - they are pretty good.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sat May 20, 2017 1:31 am

BOAT wrote:You could go with the older type mounting that mac owners used before : I think it was kadet, and kurz, and some others that did these tiller drive installations years before I ever attempted it and they mounted their drive units right on wooden blocks they cemented to the sides of the hull. With that system you can make the tiller arm any length you want.

You would need to search the forum for auto pilot tiller drive installations - I know there are a few of them that are much older than mine (those guys are the real pioneers - they were the first ones to mount tiller drive AP's on the MAC.)

You should look at their designs - they are pretty good.


Thanks BOAT, yes I've read their threads and was going that way until I found yours. Problem is, in my eyes, that any failure would be immediate and catastrophic, whereas yours should show signs of problems long before it fails, assuming it's checked regularly. Also I've not done any glassing before. Again a "pro" install of a shore power charger unit on my boat by the PO onto a wooden block has recently just fallen off.

No offence to Kadet et al, they certainly look great installations.

I just re-read some of those write-ups and noticed this from RobertB in 2013:

RobertB wrote:I am looking into this autopilot mod using the tiller drive. I noticed that you installed the actuator to the rudder cross member. Per the measurements on my :macm: , this is attached to a 13 inch belcrank on the rudder shafts. Reading the RayMarine instructions for the current EV-100, this tiller is ideally supposed to be mounted 18 inches from the rudder pivot but can be mounted as close as 14 inches. Have you had any issues with this mounted at 13 inches from the pivot?
I am initially considering lengthening the port side belcrank to a 15 or 16 inch pivot and mounting the other end of the actuator on a bracket off of the motor well (close to where the current rudder cable is mounted).


So I think if RM are that relaxed we need to be flexible regarding our over-powering worries.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby kurz » Sat May 20, 2017 6:17 am

Here you have my solution as I could not find BOATs fittings. Also it is easy to fix as you can drill normal 4mm holes:
Image
Image

I installed the ev-100 tiller as near I could not to interfere with the motor well. I don't know the exact distance, but you can see the big hole left. This is the original position of the nut sitting at the end of the original steering tiller down under the cockpit.
But if I watch the steering wheel it turns on both sides from 12:00 to 12:55. What I think is not too bad.

Still am not too shure if I can use the AP whyle the 60hp motor is connected to the steering.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sat May 20, 2017 12:20 pm

Haha, yes Kurz, I know what you mean, I was wondering how I would drill a 38mm hole in my tiller extension. I've sourced a similar part to you; it is part of a seat leg so heavy duty. Also my tiller extension came with pre-drilled holes so I'll be fixing my chair leg onto the tiller arm with an M10 nut and bolt.

I think it's very apt that I'm fitting a leg onto an arm. I just have to do the surgery on the leg to accept the aluminium ball. I had pretty much given up finding a nipple that will fit the 11/16" (17.4mm) end of my ram. 3/8" is too small and 1/2" is too big. But, I tried wrapping a lot of Teflon tape around a 5/8" bolt and that seemed to work.

Now, doing some checking, it seems that my 5/8" bolt equates to 15.875mm BUT a 3/8 BSP close taper nipple has a major diameter of 16.6mm. Compare this to my target inside diameter on the end of the ram which is 11/16" (17.4mm) so it's now actually looking like the 3/8 nipple is going to do the job; with the addition of some Teflon tape.

I know what you're thinking BOAT; "that's what I told him!"
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Sat May 20, 2017 5:29 pm

The tiller drive works okay with the motor attached as long as the motor is in the down position - if the motor is attached and the motor is in the up position it puts a huge amount of strain on the entire steering system - in that situation I disengage the AP for sure -

Really, the only time the motor really needs to be attached to the steering is when your using your mac as a power boat - rudders UP!

But there are so many ways to run the boat it's not funny:

Motor down connected - rudders up DB up - any speed you want The AP will work here but you need to change the MODE on the AP to POWER BOAT setting if you go over 11 knots
Motor down connected - rudders up DB down - under 6 knots in the wind or around obstacles the DB helps steering AP works fine in sail mode or power mode here.
Motor down connected - rudders down - under 6 knots (can't think of any reason for this one except you decided to lower the motor when going downwind AP works better in power boat mode here
Motor down locked - rudders down DB down - under 6 knots this is just like any keel boat with a diesel AP in sail or power mode
Motor down locked - rudders down DB up - under 6 knots shallow water stuff? ( :? ) AP in power mode
Motor down locked - rudders up - I would not recommend ever trying this one AP or not!

Here are the ones where you should NOT use the AP:
Motor up connected rudders down
Motor up connected rudders up this one also is no good not a good idea!

With all these configurations it can get pretty strange for the AP to "learn" your steering (it records the way your boat behaves and changes) so it's best to try to use the pilot mostly under sail with the motor locked in the up position - you can have the motor down in the locked position with the AP on and many folks will do that in restricted waters so they can fire up at a moments notice to avoid trouble - but remember - as long as your rudders are DOWN you DON'T NEED THE MOTOR CONNECTED TO THE STEERING! Best to leave the motor locked at all times when under way with an auto pilot.

You can put down the motor, raise all the boards, blow the ballast and fly like a bat out of hull WOT under the AP but it only works if the AP is in power mode or the AP will wander in big S curves if it's still in sail mode.

Also, when you flying full speed under power without ballast on an AP make sure you ALWAYS HAVE SOME ONE ON THE HELM in case the AP drops out or fails. A really hard turn at that speed can throw people off the boat and cause all kinds of problems. At 6 knots no one cares, but at 20 knots it's dangerous to do a hard over with no one at the helm.

Be reasonable with your auto pilots when using the MAC as a power boat - AP's are much more useful for cruising sailors than for power boat operators. Watch the skippers on those big fishing boats on the TV shows about the Alaska crab fishermen or the tuna chasers and you will see that they are always on the helm - power boats are just too fast to be left unattended on an AP. Sailboat? Not so bad.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby kurz » Sun May 21, 2017 2:19 am

Thanks BOAT, I just worried if it is not hard to pull with the motor down. And also the attach point in the inner layaer of the motor well is not sooo strong.

But maybe I just worry to much...
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sun May 21, 2017 11:43 pm

On the subject of attaching the ball to the end of the ram, it occurred to me that I could simply drill a hole in the end of the little plastic bit that screws into the end of the ram and attach the ball to this before screwing it back into the ram.

Of course the objection to this is obviously that it is comparatively frail; as has already been mentioned.

However, this idea led me, by extension, if you get my drift, to this - http://www.mountbattenboathouse.co.uk/r ... xtensions/ .

A variety of ram extension lengths are available starting at 1 inch and neatly solves the issue of finding an 11/16" connector to link the st2000 ram to BOAT's patent connect/disconnect ball device.

Voila, as my ancestors would say!
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Mon May 22, 2017 8:40 am

MikeFloutier wrote:On the subject of attaching the ball to the end of the ram, it occurred to me that I could simply drill a hole in the end of the little plastic bit that screws into the end of the ram and attach the ball to this before screwing it back into the ram.


That sounds like a stroke of genius - (or, in the words of my California ancestors: "Works for me!")

You can buy that little plastic end piece from RayMarine - why not buy 5 or 6 of them and then you can modify them as you see fit.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Mon May 22, 2017 9:05 am

kurz wrote:Thanks BOAT, I just worried if it is not hard to pull with the motor down. And also the attach point in the inner layaer of the motor well is not sooo strong.

But maybe I just worry to much...


I really don't use the AP with the motor connected period. For me it does not matter if the motor is tilted up or down because I always have the motor locked in the straight ahead position - not attached to the steering system. In that configuration I am just like 90% of all the other sailboats on the water that have an inboard diesel except I have the advantage that I can lift my prop out of the water when sailing to reduce drag.

When I have the motor connected to the steering on my boat I treat the whole set up like a power boat. All boards are up, and all the ballast valves are open. I run like that because I'm not the greatest power boat operator and I don't want to break anything just because I pushed the throttle too far or was going too fast. I have used the AP in this configuration and it works okay but only if your in POWER MODE - in sail mode the boat tends to wander back and forth in big S curves when you go over 10 knots. In power mode it goes in a straight line.

Really, how many hours would you travel in full power mode? For me the nearest island is only about 2 hours at WOT and that's going to suck up half your fuel capacity right there so getting back on WOT you will be cutting it close without a fuel station out in the ocean somewhere - not likely - so really your never going to me WOT on you boat for more than an hour and a half or so and I think we really don't need an AP for such short power runs. If you want to run at 9 or 10 knots under power that's fine even in sail mode so for me I have not found any real use for the power mode at high speed with the motor connected to the steering.

If your the type of MAC owner that is running at high speeds for hours on end traveling to destinations a lot on a schedule (often these guys are on fresh water using very big motors) that's great and if your one of those guys I recommend a wheel pilot - not a tiller pilot. The wheel pilot works much better if you use your boat mostly as a power boat. In another life when I am too old and feeble to haul up a mainsail I would love to fly that way - nice calm waters on the Erie Canal or Lake Powell or cruising the islands in record time without the hassles of sails, but for now my MAC has a mast, so I tend to treat it like a sailboat.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Mon May 22, 2017 4:31 pm

kurz wrote:And also the attach point in the inner layaer of the motor well is not sooo strong.

But maybe I just worry to much...


One of my jobs today was to check the gap between the liner and the deck so I can order the right thickness of hardwood for the BOAT shelf that will carry the st2000 anchorage.

I did this by drilling test holes in the liner. My first hole was in the lower area and I was slightly worried as the liner was fairly thin. However, higher up the liner was much thicker. I'll make sure I use plenty of fat screws to spread the load.

Thanks again for this amazing design and write up BOAT, and the rest of you guys, this site is a great resource!
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Mon May 22, 2017 4:54 pm

A backing plate will make the bond to the liner as crack proof as possible with zero flex, bend, or give:

Image

If you hang the drive unit upside down like I do keep it close to the block to reduce torquing force but also make sure it hangs down low enough to swing under the motor well and also enough room to pivot off of the steering gear. If you click on the picture above to enlarge it you will see that I grinded a little bit of the block right above the piston to make sure it could clear the block when raised off the steering gear.

If the piston hangs down real low it will add twisting torque to the block - try to avoid twisting torque. The block in the configuration above is very strong and should handle just about any twisting torque it sees but the nature of the piston in performance mode is to jog back and forth in very tiny short fast movements so imagine the wear factor on that block over a period of many years. The idea is to keep the wear on the soft brass sleeve that comes with the drive and the hole in the block, not to transfer the wear to the liner.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Tue May 23, 2017 5:25 am

Thanks BOAT, my thought was maybe to epoxy the block to the inside of the well liner in addition to the fat screws so as to spread the load more evenly; is that a bit belt and braces?

Also, I like the idea of hanging the ram (in my case the whole unit) upside down for all the reasons you mention.

Did you have any trouble drilling the hole in the end of the ram's anchorage pin; it looks pretty hard? I don't have a drill stand so I may have to get it done by a local machine shop.

PS. I just looked carefully inside the st2000 unit and it's clear that the fluxgate compass is swinging on gimbals BUT only swings IF it's the right way up so its back to plan A, ie. Wood block slightly lower and the receiver cup on the extended tiller arm slightly higher. At least I don't have to worry about drilling that anchorage pin.
Last edited by MikeFloutier on Tue May 23, 2017 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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