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Autopilot Options - Wilderness 40


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Looking for some guidance. I don't know shit about autopilots.

Boat is a Wilderness 40, 10,000 lb racer/cruiser from the 80's, wheel steering with rudderpost/tiller attachment easily accessible at deck level

Primary use: coastal daysailing, weekend cruises, and shorthanded sailing. Racing and longer coastal cruising in the future.

Raymarine wheel pilot currently installed. It does not steer very well and it's noisy.

I would love to mount a decent below deck drive that will steer better than me, but also simple to install and cheap :) If the boat had a tiller I would probably buy the Pelagic system. It sounds pretty good and would probably meet my needs?

Photos of the quadrant below: it is pretty typical with a big stop bolted to it that hits "L" bracket stops mounted under deck. Can I attach the drive arm to a plate bolted onto the quadrant at the stop? I have heard that the quadrant will definitely fail. I have also heard that it will be fine and that people have put serious miles on autos connected to the quad. What is the consensus? 

What would be the right type of drive? Electric linear?

Does the pelagic drive system have a clutch, or is the drag too high to leave engaged all the time?

Would I be better off mounting an arm above deck at the top of the head and just mounting a pelagic there? Easy to remove, cheap, good reviews?

Thanks for your advice.

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Edited by Future MOB
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I had a Raymarine electric linear drive on a previous boat and I thought it was really good.  I used a Simrad computer and control head but the Ray drive will work with any system.  It's strong silent and worked flawlessly for 10+ years with no maintenance.

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Depending on the raymarine computer you may be able to connect a below deck electric linear drive.  One advantage of having a separate tiller type arm below deck that the drive is attached to is you have 2 ways to turn the rudder that are separate.  

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10 hours ago, MaxDog said:

I had a Raymarine electric linear drive on a previous boat and I thought it was really good.  I used a Simrad computer and control head but the Ray drive will work with any system.  It's strong silent and worked flawlessly for 10+ years with no maintenance.

MaxDog - was the Raymarine drive unit always connected? Was the drag noticeable?

Would a type 1 drive be ok? https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|2331321|2028687|2028715&id=72300

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20 minutes ago, seaker said:

Depending on the raymarine computer you may be able to connect a below deck electric linear drive.  One advantage of having a separate tiller type arm below deck that the drive is attached to is you have 2 ways to turn the rudder that are separate.  

Yeah, good point on the computer. 

I have read this argument before about having a backup, but that would only be the case if the quadrant itself fails, right? If the steering cables fail, which I think is the most common failure mode, then the drive unit attached to the quad would still work, right?

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