Archive for the 'self-steering' Category

Auto Pilot Maintenance

I (Jon) finished these jobs variously on Feb. 28th.

We have two Auto-helm 3000 auto pilots.

One auto-pilot motor completely ceased to function as we crossed the Pacific. It had been making an excruciating noise and just locked up. The other auto pilot wasn’t in very good shape either.  In fact it was labeled ‘does not work’ but we gave it a try when the other failed, and lo and behold it worked, though not particularly well; it just made a lot of noise that seemed unhealthy. So I set about to try and clean both of them and get them both operational.

There were lots of little plastic gears to keep straight and organized. The metal parts had an incredible amount of corrosion on them. So much so that they were incredibly difficult to get apart.

Once all cleaned up and put back together, one gear box turned really well, and the other was still very hard to turn.

Then on one of them the following happened. There is a gear that is connected to the motor shaft via a key in the shaft and inside the gear. The inside of the gear stripped though and so was now perfectly cylindrical, instead of having the matching keyed fit.  So that motor now can’t be connected to the rest of the auto-pilot gear box.

So now I took the motor that worked from one auto-pilot, and the gear box that worked well from the other auto-pilot and put them together to form one that works.

To get the other one working, I would need a new keyed gear for the motor. And more work done lubricating the gear box.


Repaired Monitor Windvane

We were sailing erratically, it didn’t seem like adjusting the control lines for the self-steering monitor windvane was having any effect.  On further investigation (didn’t take much), I discovered that the rudder was dragging behind the boat, attached only by the safety keeper-cord that is designed exactly for this purpose.  I wish I had taken a picture–it was a pretty funny scene (in retrospect)–but it wasn’t at the top of my list of priorities in that moment.

The bottom bracket had just fallen apart–the welds disintegrated after two decades of salt water.  Fortunately, the timing worked out well–Jon was about to visit us in mexico for his spring break, so I was able to order the parts from Monitor, have them shipped to Jon in colorado, and he brought them down with him when he visited.  It wasn’t a cheap repair: the new bottom bracket alone cost $250 I think.

(I considered having the old one re-welded, but the whole thing was trashed and it wouldn’t have held together.)