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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 BOAT » Tue May 23, 2017 8:39 am

MikeFloutier wrote: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.


The metal is soft so it's easy to drill. The brass sleeve is even softer so it's designed to wear over time - when the brass sleeve gets too worn you just put in a new one and keep on going. They set the hardness of all the materials very specifically so that failure points and wear and tear would happen in the right places in the right order.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sat Jun 03, 2017 5:41 am

Hey BOAT, sorry, another question, how did you cut the engine well liner?

I've not done this before and I don't want to make too much of a mess of it.

Not sure whether I should be drilling holes and connecting up with a keyhole saw OR maybe using an grinder or something.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby kurz » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:18 am

I used something like this
http://www.metallwelt.at/onlineshop/elektro-druckluftwerkzeuge-zubehoer/elektrowerkzeuge-schleifen/dreieckschleifer-feinschneider/produkt/fein-supercut-fsc-20-mit-quickin-edition-wood-2014/
Works very very easy. But I bought a cheap one for 35.-- as I use very seldom.

I my case I even could not put a wooden block behind the liner as there was not enough space.

So dont worry too much, do the wole first and decide later.

I just used scres and washers/nuts.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:52 pm

Thanks Kurz, I'll look for that, I have between 22-25mm gap behind the well liner so I should get nearly an inch thick block of wood to fit in the gap.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sun Jun 04, 2017 3:58 am

One issue I've noticed, reading around this topic elsewhere, is that of:

"The linear ram's drive motor not stopping when the ram reaches full extension or retraction."

Since our below decks rams are obviously going to be out of sight this is a concern as:

1. The motor could burn out,
2. The unit could suffer stress damage, and
3. An electrical fire could result.
4. No action is taken and things just snowball.

All of this can happen because we neither see the cause (over/under extension of the ram) nor the results (eg the fire).

Since several of you guys have live below decks systems I wondered how it has been for you, in actual practice?
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby grady » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:13 am

MikeFloutier wrote:One issue I've noticed, reading around this topic elsewhere, is that of:

"The linear ram's drive motor not stopping when the ram reaches full extension or retraction."

Since our below decks rams are obviously going to be out of sight this is a concern as:

1. The motor could burn out,
2. The unit could suffer stress damage, and
3. An electrical fire could result.
4. No action is taken and things just snowball.

All of this can happen because we neither see the cause (over/under extension of the ram) nor the results (eg the fire).

Since several of you guys have live below decks systems I wondered how it has been for you, in actual practice?


Doesn't the system have rudder feedback? You should be able to set the max travel.

On item 3 if wired corect the system would not start an electrical fire. Manufactures test for that.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:20 am

Thanks Grady but no, no rudder feedback, it's the budget RM st2000.

Regarding the fire risk, I had read a thread where a guy's unit was melted. I guess the manufacturers rely on us guys reading the manual and putting the correct size fuse and wiring on the power supply.

When I originally tested my unit, during eBay purchase, I rigged it to my car's cigar lighter, which had a 10A fuse compared to the 12A recommended by RM for the st2000.

As part of the test I carelessly allowed the ram's motor to run on after the ram had extended fully. It only took a few seconds for the fuse to blow.

On the positive side I guess this is good for protecting the unit.

But, in view of the fact that, in operational conditions, the unit will be out of sight, it's going to be important that:

1. I calibrate it and operate it such that it doesn't over-extend the ram and risk blowing the fuse; thereby locking the steering, and

2. Ensure that my installation of BOAT's patent connect/disconnect system is working well.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby Tomfoolery » Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:46 pm

It strikes me as odd that any such system would allow the actuator to burn out like that. No end of travel limits, nor over current protection in the form of stalled rotor detection and timeout, or current limiting such that the motor could act like a torque motor (which is designed to sit, stalled, providing torque without motion with no time limit, like a damper motor). And no software limiting of output current? With a time element? Triggering a fault annunciation when it happens (could happen even in heavy conditions with really lousy sail balancing)?

Would it be possible to add external travel limit switches?
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby grady » Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:14 pm

I have the Simrad TP22 with the AP24 control head. It has a max limit setting.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby MikeFloutier » Sun Jun 04, 2017 3:10 pm

Tomfoolery wrote:It strikes me as odd that any such system would allow the actuator to burn out like that. No end of travel limits, nor over current protection in the form of stalled rotor detection and timeout, or current limiting such that the motor could act like a torque motor (which is designed to sit, stalled, providing torque without motion with no time limit, like a damper motor). And no software limiting of output current? With a time element? Triggering a fault annunciation when it happens (could happen even in heavy conditions with really lousy sail balancing)?

Would it be possible to add external travel limit switches?


Completely agree. Here is a note at the introduction to such an "external travel limit switch" mod:

" The ST1000 is a nice unit but it has one glaring weakness when used this way. Since it was designed to operate the tiller of a relatively small sailboat, the designers assumed that the operator would be sitting right next to the unit and that having the pushrod go all the way in or out would put the vessel in such a tight turn that a course adjustment would be instantly made. They therefor did not see the need to include limit switches or any kind of clutch in the drive mechanism. The motor simply stalls against rubber stops inside and goes into overload, drawing lots of current and starting to heat up almost immediately."

If anyone needs it the mod is at http://www.cruisingonstrider.us/ST1000mods.htm

Any other ideas regarding mods or operational suggestions would be very welcome.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby sailboatmike » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:28 pm

This is merely Another example of marine electronics that isnt really fit for purpose as I have jumped up and down about many times.

Is there something wrong with the code writers or electronics designers that they dont fix this LONG time issue with these unit, I dont think so, IMHO opinion its just another glaring example of taking money from your pockets to fix the unit, when in reality a couple of lines of codes or a simple ram position indicator integrated into the unit would solve the issue once and for all.

There is a guy that rebuilt his ST2000 with a Arduino board, made it better than ever and even with no electronics experience at all he was able to put a sensor on to stop the travel and disconnect the motor at a given point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRd4Qv0znGw&t=6s

Really its hardly brain surgery
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:47 am

I use a German Dremel Multi Tool to cut the liner. Just used it over the weekend to do the dash - (see "BOAT needs your help" post).

As for the piston not knowing when to stop that is a problem that is taken care of on the EV series units - First off, the EV piston is a digital motor so when it hits the stops it pulses - it runs a lot cooler. The workings of the EV piston is more like a stepper motor than a worm gear spinner. Also, the brain on the EV unit will protect the piston from overloads. (I have an Evolution Pilot, not a ST pilot). The EV series brain will also automatically call out a course alarm and shut down the unit if the piston tries to extend or retract for over a certain amount of seconds. That's why you set a 'hard over' time' during the initial commissioning. That time limit is used to shut down the piston. That's so you don't wake up some night to realize you have been going in circles for three hours

If you do not set up pilots correctly with a proper 'hard over' time you asking the unit to destroy itself. You need to do your part too - there is no way for the machine to know if you set a course that is outside it's parameters.
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby kurz » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:08 am

BOAT what did you set as "hard over time"?

I mean in our setting actually we want to use the maximum...
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby BOAT » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:25 am

If you use the maximum your asking the unit to burn itself up before it finally tops turning.

The hard over time is different for every boat - 'boat' spins around on it's DB VERY fast on a come-about because I have a HUGE headsail - if your using a working jib your hard over time will be longer than mine - my hard over time is very fast.

If you programming a wheel pilot it's a different value also - the wheel pilots have long hard over times -
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Re: Installing a Ray Marine Tiller Pilot below decks

Postby kurz » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:32 pm

well - when I remember correctly - they ask you during installation procedure how long it takes to get the max position to get the tiller to the max position. As a standard the say 4sec I guess.
And also the say you can aproximately. So they dont say it has to be very accoryte. It is just that the tiller does not go to far out if your rudder cannot go so much.

But in our installation the tiller ev 100 is the limit - not the rudder.
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