Author Topic: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54  (Read 1438 times)

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Hobiehobie

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #11 on: Today at 12:38:48 PM »
Just to close the loop on the original posting?

I ended up getting a new Lewmar drive motor for the Mamba system and taking along the old, reconditioned one as a spare.  No issues occurred during the solo transatlantic sail (NY to UK) until I got to the Azores.  Then, once in the marina, all the electronics went down taking out the autopilot and everything else.  Turns out it was a damp plug that connected one of the companionway repeaters to the network?but it caused complete disruption to every other instrument, including the Autopilot.  Relatively easy to fix, but not easy to find the culprit.

So I feel like a dodged a bullet having this occur once I was safe and sound.  If/when I do another solo ocean sail I will work harder to get a self-contained second autopilot installed.  But I have yet to find any yard or tech that is knowledgeable in doing this.  The only person who seems to be experienced and capable of working on Mamba systems is Cliff from Yacht Steering Services in Havant, UK.  But I have not sailed into his area yet.  Currently boat is in Scotland. 

https://yachtsteeringservices.com/



stgermain45

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2024, 08:32:19 PM »
As we're just 4 hull numbers from Ambition, I'm sure we have the same Whitlock steering system. When we gutted and refreshed our old Raymarine electronics package in favor of B&G a few years back, I kept the old functioning Raymarine as a backup. I installed a large long shaft 1-2 rotary switch (6 pole/2 pos/no off) that has all power, motor, and clutch wires going in and out of it. So with one throw of the switch we can power up and be running on backup autopilot. I relocated the old Raymarine control unit to inside the cabinet just fwd of the nav table where the rotary switch also lives. Obviously not convenient for course changes, but the idea is that it's purely a backup for longer passages. We're running on our primary B&G system under normal circumstances with controls at the helm and around the boat both wired and wirelessly. We had to switch to backup during our pacific crossing for a couple days when our primary was "acting up" and fortunately didn't have to hand steer while simultaneously troubleshooting.

The only piece not on ready standby is the type-2 linear drive (though we carry a spare). It's a nice approach jt11791 took on that one.

Chris
SV Beleza (H46 #44)

SV Elysium

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2024, 05:03:46 PM »
Currently we have the hydraulic ram which was recently rebuilt along with the pump that was recently replaced connected to an older Raymarine SPX course computer.  We are about to upgrade this system to the latest Garmin CCU to match all of our other instruments.  After having to hand steer for 2k miles until we could get the repairs done I have ben thinking about how to add some redundancy to the system.  I was looing forward to removing the Raymarine CCU and getting all the space back behind the nav panel. After thinking it through and considering other options this is already a complete system with its own fluxgate compass so it will do the minimum of steering a course even it GPS or the NMEA 2k systems are in an error state.  I can probably add a quick connection to the pump wiring in order to swap between systems but I was wondering what it would take to have a complete backup should something happen to the hydraulics.  I since the Lewmar liner drive was used with the Mamba systems I am wondering if it had been installed with any of the Constellation systems or if there is even enough room before I start spending any more time figuring it out. 

We replaced all of the conduit, wiring, and chain  in 21/22.  Not a fun job. Edson, however, was very helpful and had everything we needed to replace.  There are a few Lewmar components which were hard to come by at the time because of post pandemic supply chain issues.  We are also looking into the possibility of following Edson's suggestion of connecting the ram to a tiller arm extension directly on the rudder post so that we still have steering in the even of a failure anywhere between the wheel and the quadrant.

If anyone has thoughts we would love to hear them.
 

S/V Elysium H46 #35

Ambition

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2024, 12:16:36 PM »
Elysium, On board our 46 Ambition we have the same steering system. Our autopilot is using a Garmin (we are all Garmin on board) GHP12 control head driving a Raymarine (I think this is sold under a number of brand names) Hydraulic pump Type 2 driving a ram attached to the steering quadrant. I carry a spare Type 2 pump and recently had to change out the plastic hydraulic oil tank due to leaking. This setup has performed flawlessly for us over almost 10,000 NM. My main concern is the Whitlock Constellation steering system which has not been torn down for maintenance. It just made it onto my list of To Do .... I hope parts (cables, bushings and conduits) are still available .... your turn to add to my list!
Merrill
S/V Ambition H46 #40

SV Elysium

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2024, 08:52:14 PM »
Does anyone have this type of drive unit installed with the Whitlock/Constellation steering system?  Curious as to which model was installed particularly on a 46.
S/V Elysium H46 #35

Hobiehobie

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2022, 02:43:35 PM »
This is great info.  Let me look at the material enclosed , digest and I am sure I will have more questions.

jt11791

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2022, 05:14:03 AM »
Here's some further info.  Attached is a Lewmar publication listing the various drive units that they make (or made).  They are similar in construction and all use the same motor and clutch (with 12V and 24V versions).  The main difference being the output style.  Some are direct shaft drive to the steering gears (you probably have one of these), others have chain sprockets, and some are lever arm and drag link.  My boat has both a sprocket/chain drive and also an arm/drag-link drive.  You can probably add an arm/drag-link drive like mine, which mounts under the aft bunk on the port side and connects directly to the rudder quadrant.  Having two drives in place is much better than having a spare to swap with your only drive (though that is better than nothing) as it allows you to "hot swap" from one to the other with only an electrical switch.  Autopilots don't die when the seas are small and the sailing easy.  Ask me how I know...I had to replace both of my drives in 2018.  I was in a storm and one drive gave up.  I switched to the other and was rather smug for a couple of hours until it died too.  Hand steered the next 950nm, boy was that hard!  Thankfully I wasn't solo.  Safe in port, the autopsies showed that the clutches in both of my drives were worn out (my boat is 2001, so they lasted about 17 years).  I contacted Lewmar and they were reluctant to sell me the parts to rebuild them myself, they would have, but they did not have everything I needed in stock and couldn't give me an ETA.  Instead, Lewmar has a trade in deal (at least they did in 2018) where you send them your drive and they sell you a new one for 40% of retail price.  In the end it was probably better to do it this way as this is a really good deal and the drives they sent me were new, not rebuilt units.

The man I dealt with at Lewmar in 2018 was Anthony Cinotti acinotti@lewmar.com  I don't know if he is still there, but worth a try.  He was responsive and helpful.
   
Jeff Taylor
S/Y Renegade  H54-19

Hobiehobie

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2022, 08:37:52 PM »
I have Whitlock Lewmar Mamba solid rod drive. Any thoughts?

jt11791

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2022, 06:09:06 AM »
I have redundant auto pilots on my 54.  Two of everything.  One drive is linked directly to the quadrant, the other has a chain drive to the wheel.  Happy to answer any questions.

Steering system maintenance is mostly about lubrication (grease) and making sure nothingnis loose.  Do you have a cable drive system or shaft drive?
Jeff Taylor
S/Y Renegade  H54-19

voodoo

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Re: Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2022, 01:49:36 PM »
I've also struggled to find info on the steering system and am very interested in any maintenance or service info.

Hobiehobie

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Adding a redundant autopilot and steering system to H54
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2022, 08:15:22 PM »
Hi all.  Planning a short handed/solo transatlantic passage and a very experienced friend of mine suggested adding a separate back-up autopilot system that could be attach to the rudder post to switch to if the Mamba steering and/or Lewmar autopilot went down, broke etc.   Makes sense, as carrying a duplicate autopilot computer, autopilot motor, rudder sensor, etc (my first solution) would be of little use  if the mamba system itself broke. 

Has anyone done this, or have any thoughts on making the steering system more bullet proof?  Also, there seems to be not one person on the US east coast who knows anything about Whitlock Mamba, and Lewmar are basically useless in providing services or guidance overhauling/maintaining the system.

If i could get this done I would then only need to to worry about an Orca biting off the rudder!


 

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