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xyzzy

ST1000+ repair

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Two weeks before a single handed race and a two week vacation, my ST1000+ has decided to break.  Haven't called Raymarine yet, but from what I've read they won't help and won't sell parts.

It looks like the end plate seal has cracked:6B2vjZlKgbeyZ-LmR2RU3A4KUVLWYMf17EHzBye6

Perhaps some g/flex can glue it back together?

It seems like there was a gasket between the inboard end of the ram and the gear box:

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One can see the bits of broken gasket.  There's a thin plastic piece that looks like it might have been some adhesive tape attached to a rubber gasket.  Anyone had one of these open in the non-broken state and can describe what goes here?

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I think my main problem has to due with the lead screw drive pulley.  It's the gear attached to the end of the screw.

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It's not straight.  It looks like there a split pin that's supposed to hold it on.  I think perhaps the pin is in too far and this has allowed the gear to back off.    Should the back of the screw shaft be flush with the back of this gear?  Does the hole in the shaft for the pin go all the way through, so that it can be pushed out from the other side?  It does not on mine, but I suspect that this is because it no longer lines up because the gear has moved back.  Or does the pin go into a blind hole, and once it's in, it's in forever?

I think the gear moving back, besides not being on straight, is allowing in/out play in the screw.  I can push it back several mm before the threads on the screw bottom out against the bearing (which is inside the black plastic part opposite the gear).  Here it is pushed back.  It does not seem like it should do this.

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It's dead Jim.

 

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I had the same thing happen to two of my ST2000s on a trip from Seattle to San Francisco. I could not find parts to repair them myself. Raymarine replaced one under warranty, and repaired the other one out of warranty for about $150, IIRC. As TQA said, your ST1000 is most likely just dead. The tiny drive belt starts losing teeth if the drive routinely hits either end of its range of motion. The plastic gear teeth start to round over. The bearing fails, and the gasket you described ends up as gasket dust inside the housing. If you end up replacing your tillerpilot, consider Pelagic Autopilots. They're made by a solo sailor who understands the need for reliability under hard use. My first ST2000 lasted for years and worked great sailing around Puget Sound. It failed on day three of my offshore trip, where it received continuous use. I replaced it with a spare, which lasted about two more days at sea. In fairness to the ST2000s that I ruined, my boat at the time was light and fast, and really hard to steer well downwind. Those tillerpilots got a hell of a workout before they failed.

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Unless it has changed recently, RM has a "flat rate repair" policy on these.  They refurb and return it for a set fee, no matter what's wrong with it.  IIRC, about half the cost of a new one.    I fudged a few sketchy patchy repairs on my ST2000+ until the display went nuts, then sent it in.  Meanwhile, picked up a new one on sale.  Stashed the newly refurbed one away as a spare.  

At some point, it's not worth throwing more money at these.  By all accounts, practically all newer models work better.  

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Problem with the flat rate repair (besides spending half the cost of the pilot to get a 50 cent piece of oh-so-special plastic), is that the only time I actually want to use the pilot is now.  If they take two weeks to fix it, it might as well be a year.

Found a belt maker that sells just the belts for $21, https://shop.polybelt.com/ST2000-Tiller-Pilot-Raymarine-Raytheon-Replacement-Belt-Kit-BST2000RAY.htm My belts seem ok, perhaps the 1st drive belt from the motor is a little looser than it should be.  Didn't see any missing teeth.

One can (could?) also get a gear kit from Raymarine that includes the belts and gears, for something like $90+.  It does not include the plastic broken bit on the end of the ram or a new gasket.

I think my problem is the in/out play due to the lead screw gear moving.  I wish I had a picture of what a correct one looks like.  Especially how far on the screw the lead screw gear is supposed to seat.

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Found a Dutch forum with a good disassembly that might show the gaskets, https://zeilersforum.nl/index.php/forum-125/73-stroom-elektrische-apparatuur-aan-boord/568473-autohelm-1000-raymarine-st2000-open-maken?start=25

Looks like the ST2000+ has two gaskets, on the back of the ram and on the gear box.  I'm pretty sure mine just had one gasket.

IMG_2882.png

The old AH1000 looks like two o-rings on the struts of the ram.  That might be a lot easier to source, instead of cutting my own gasket out.  I'm not sure how large the central hole the screw goes though should be.

IMG_2881.png

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As expected, Raymarine is not helpful.  You can send it in for a flat rate repair, half the cost of the unit.  Can I just send in the broken piece of plastic and they "repair" that?  No.

The end cap is broken.  There's a oil seal inside it, not broken.  I'm going to try g/flex, but there isn't much surface to bond.  Poor design, placing so much stress on so little plastic.  There's no reason for it to be so thin.  It's just empty space around it in the case.  They could have made it a 3x thicker.

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Seems like it wouldn't be hard to make one of these out of metal on a lathe.

The gear on the lead screw was indeed backed off.  I pushed it back down, then punched out the roll pin holding it in, which had broken in half, probably how it backed off.  I think I'll replace it with a longer one.  Or perhaps a solid pin if I can find one that's a good fit.  I found it why it wobbles.  It was made that way.

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Given how common these autopilot are, and how commonly the break, and what little support raymarine offers, it's surprising there is not an enterprising individual who makes a ST1000/2000 upgrade/repair kit.  It doesn't seem like anything here would be hard to make.

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You don't understand. The cost of Raymarine stuff is more like a tax, or perhaps a subscription. You are not buying a lasting product. These designers at Raymarine do the best they can at the given rice point...and lacking any experience ever being aboard a boat. The cylindrical Raymarine tiller pilots are more like a water pump the way the suck water inside so reliably. Nobody could have foreseen them getting wet. And the early ones had the bronze nut screwed into the aluminum actuator. Who could have known there might be electrolysis?

That said, it is actually pretty good economical equipment by marine industry standards.

Just buy a new one. Try not to bang it into the end, or whatever was happening.

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An oil seal, like this SC 1.00 x .75 x .12 is all that keeps the water out of the shaft.  It fits inside the larger space in the broken plastic cap pictured above.  Thankfully it's a standard item and isn't half the cost of the unit to replace.  The only bearing is a standard R4A Z, available cheaply, SR4A ZZ, in stainless with better seals.

While there is a gasket around the outside of the case and another for the mounting post, the eight screws that hold the case together are entirely unsealed.

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Webb CHiles who is close to completing a circumnavigation on a lightweight 24 ft using tiller pilots consumed them by the 1/2 dozen. 

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What Daddle says above.

I've drowned any number of them in spite of attempts to nurse them.

The most radical solution I've seen, which worked, was a fish-tank pump connected to pressurize the case.

A bit agricultural but that may offer a cheap alternative to fixing all those leaking hatches, windows, masts etc., if you could find a big enough blower.

Don't try this at home.  :rolleyes:

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I had an ST2000+ which worked perfectly the entire time I owned it but I still wouldn't go offshore with just one. In fact, I'd buy the Pelagic unit if I were going offshore in a tiller steered boat.

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Doesn't seem like mine is wet, just broken.  I wonder if the oil seal gets damaged and that lets in water?  Certainly, it could have been designed with multiple seals instead of just one.

My repair is progressing.  Ordered some stainless roll pins that are longer and should support the gear on both sides of the shaft instead of just one.  Using some o-rings on the struts to replace the destroyed bumpers on the inboard part of the ram.

Outer seal has been glued with gflex.

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The plate that this cap attaches to was bent.  I think there must have been a blow the ram when it was extended that broke this part.  So I made a new one.  The aluminum the old one was stamped out of doesn't seem that stiff compared to the 6061T6 I made the replacement from.

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Pretty tough room re consumer expectations for a competitively priced marine product,  decades old design from a company that has changed owners every decade for the last three, but still one of the very few that offers a flat rate repair policy.  Also I don't know of one cheap leadscrew drive auto pilot ever made that didn't leak.

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On 8/16/2018 at 2:09 AM, TQA said:

Webb CHiles who is close to completing a circumnavigation on a lightweight 24 ft using tiller pilots consumed them by the 1/2 dozen. 

He also ending up consuming this first Pelagic even only using it part time in conjunction with Raymarine as mentioned here. I think the Pelagic guy then changed something for its replacement.

https://pelagicautopilot.com/blogs/news/webb-chiles-shares-his-experience-with-his-pelagic-autopilot

What he is doing is virtually destruction testing by pushing tiller pilots of any persuasion to their design cycle life limit but over longer intervals in a shorter period of time. Unfortunately you only get specs like that from people like him or  IKEA.

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If I was still using Raymarine tiller pilots I would drill a small hole in the bottom at each end to let the seawater out. Otherwise the in and out action pumps the seawater back into the motor. The silly little seal is only to prevent the entry of squid and flying fish which would seriously clog up the works. Underdeck is the way to go, but difficult with a tiller. I had considered using steering lines to the tiller, like a windvane does, to put the drive unit below deck. But bought a bigger boat with wheel instead...

 

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On 8/19/2018 at 12:44 PM, jack_sparrow said:

Pretty tough room re consumer expectations for a competitively priced marine product,  decades old design from a company that has changed owners every decade for the last three, but still one of the very few that offers a flat rate repair policy.  Also I don't know of one cheap leadscrew drive auto pilot ever made that didn't leak.

I had a Harken block that was older the pilot.  Dropped a plastic bit overboard while I was adjusting the cleat angle.  Called Harken, sent me a part, no charge.

Plastic bit on Raymarine tiller pilot breaks.  Won't send part.  Won't sell part.  Wants half the cost of the pilot and three weeks of not having it, which is the only time I really want to use it, to get the 10 cent part replaced.

So yeah, they could do better.  They still sell them.  It's not like the plastic bit is as unobtainable as ST60 flush mount instrument covers.

I've also watched AvE disassemble enough tools to know that even a $50 Hazard Fraught grinder or drill has a gearbox with mostly sintered metal gears, not plastic and off center drilled cast zinc like the pilot.

Might be cast aluminium, but it looks like zinc to me.

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Repair progresses, reinforced the broken tab on the plastic piece with some G10 plate epoxyed on with gflex.  Seems to be bonded pretty well.imFWlVQz3z01uwkPeidCVB0t2HDPQ0uJjOgKOkte

Also filled the end of the body where this piece rests with thicken epoxy, so it would have better support.  There are normally just two think plastic tabs supporting it and one had broken.

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7 hours ago, xyzzy said:

Plastic bit on Raymarine tiller pilot breaks.  Won't send part.  Won't sell part.  Wants half the cost of the pilot and three weeks of not having it, which is the only time I really want to use it, to get the 10 cent part replaced.

So yeah, they could do better.  They still sell them.  It's not like the plastic bit is as unobtainable as ST60 flush mount instrument covers.

As long as I can remember Raymarine's current policy is if they publish a part number as being a sale item either alone or as part of a kit and they still have stock they sell it to anyone usually via their distribution network, not direct. If they don't then they will accept it under their flat rate repair policy, providing they can still source the parts.

For instance attached pic is ST1000 and ST2000 Gear Kit still available today containing a driving pully, a pin spiral, two belts, motor pulley and an idler pulley.

I don't know the reason for this policy but suspect it has a lot to do with capping the costs of supporting legacy gear in terms of carrying inventory and where a lot of that inventory comes from 3rd party providers that can come and go etc. The fact they have this policy is a boon as many marine electro/mechanical providers don't, or if they do have something, it only comes with an extended warranty at additional cost. Many unfortunately have only in an interest in selling replacement gear not extending the life of legacy equipment.

Glad you appear to have sorted it.

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Roll pins finally came on Thursday.  Though it would be easy to install them, but no, nothing is ever easy.  I think the hole in the lead screw for the spin got slightly bent out of shape when the gear was backed off by the retracting screw.  I got the pin halfway in and then no more.  Then I couldn't get it out.  Had to heat the screw with a torch and then wail on it with a hammer and roll pin punch.

Odd thing was a 3/32" drill bit would fit entirely through the gear and screw.  So how is it not large enough for the pin?  Got a #41 drill bit and used that to widen the hole slightly, but still the pin wouldn't go through.  I tried driving the pin through just the screw without the gear on the end, and that revealed the hole was axially out of true.  So I tapped on the protruding pin to try to straighten the hole and that did the trick.

And now the pilot is working as well as it ever did and held up through the single handed race.  I'll see if it lasts through cruising the next two weeks.

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Congrats. A homemade better-than-new fix is always satisfying.

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Good and bad news for the repair.  During another single handed race I caught with my back to a weather cell while I was setting up the spin pole to bring the asym out to sail deeper and got tossed around a bit.  Some sort of blow the pilot broke the back of the housing out where the mounting rod is.  I think I can glue it back on with glex and some fiberglass reinforcement patches.  The good news is my repairs all held throughout this.

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