[C38] Autopilot installation, Discreet Charm

Max soto maxsoto at gmail.com
Sat Aug 15 15:07:54 EDT 2020

Nice blog Don, that autopilots has a very simple set up. Love the fail safe engaging mechanism.  The tiller arm is huge. Whoever installed it was really lucky that the boat has a Yacht Specialties radial wheel drive, which gives more space available than the Edson.   I’m getting ideas from every pic I see. 
I got a complete New old stock Autohelm ST6000 With a huge linear drive actuator, which  I’ll have to make it fit no matter what.  Will take it to the boat next week after lockdown. 
The Cabo Rico building facility closed six years ago, anda that’s where I got my autopilot system for $80 only!
I’m planning to replace the rudder in a near future, and after seeing the space available underneath an upsidown radial wheel installation, I’ll be following that route. 

Max Soto A.
Alajuela, Costa Rica

>> On Aug 14, 2020, at 12:28, Don Strong <drstrong at ucdavis.edu> wrote:
>  Max, Ray. The Alpha analog autopilot that came to us with Discreet Charm has worked for the 18 years that we have owned the boat. The install was very professional. Scroll down in the blog to Alpha autopilot. I would appreciate any comments. Have thought that if it failed I would go with a Pelagic as did Ray.
> Regards, /don
> http://techdiscreetcharm.blogspot.com/
>> On 8/14/20 11:11 AM, Ray Torok wrote:
>> Hi Max,
>> Yeah.  I think I got carried away. 
>> If you can get a tiller arm in there, that is surely the better way to go.  
>> The C34 attachment to the wheel did not look that great to me, in light of how much force the actuator can generate, but if it works, it works. 
>> I chickened out on that type of attachment, because I am used to San Francisco, where it's often pretty windy, and you can really load things up.
>> I did not change the position of the radial wheel, as that looked like a big job too (aluminum-stainless issues), and I thought it would have required 
>> remounting the turning blocks at the base of the pedestal to get the cable leads right.  It might have been smarter to start over with a new wheel mounted higher.
>> The hard rudder stops were interesting, because the first time I tried it, the structure of the bulkhead at the aft end of the cockpit was so flexible and delaminated,
>> that it just didn't work.  I ended up injecting epoxy resin with fillers into the voids to stiffen it up.
>> Buena suerte,   Ray
>> On Thu, Aug 13, 2020 at 9:18 PM Max soto <maxsoto at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Wow Ray, that was a huge job! The rudder stop looks great. Did you radial drive wheel was installed like that? Mine is installed upside down.  The bolts are below the wheel.. I saw the same on Steve Smolinske’s boat, but I think they made it on purpose to raise the wheel and install a tiler arm. They managed to install a tiller arm below  the wheel.  
>>> Some people have installed the actuator directly to the wheel, which is what I was planning to do.. seems to be a common set up on Catalinas, even on the C42, but your set up seems much stronger.  
>>> The first pic is from a C34. Doesn’t look that good, but it works. 
>>> Second pic is from Steve’s boat. By raising the wheel I’ll have more room  for work on a packing gland. 
>>> Regards, 
>>> Max Soto A.
>>> +506-8312-1367
>>> Alajuela, Costa Rica
>>> <image0.jpeg>
>>> <image1.jpeg>
>>>> On Aug 13, 2020, at 15:24, Ray Torok <torok13731 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Hi Max,
>>>> Not sure if this will help, but a couple of years ago I installed a below deck autopilot system.
>>>> This turned into a big job.  I suppose I got carried away.  Most people probably would not go to this much trouble or be okay paying  someone to do it.  However, I would note that it worked great on a trip from San Francisco to La Paz and back.  We also replaced the old Raymarine control head with a Pelagic.  The old system simply could not control the boat when sailing downwind with quartering seas.  The new system drives the boat better than most people.
>>>> I wanted to install a below deck actuator for a couple of reasons:
>>>> ·         Bypass the steering cables to eliminate the slop introduced by the cable linkage and stretch (the old system used a motor/toothed gear assembly mounted on the pedestal)
>>>> ·         Have backup steering in case a cable breaks
>>>> The main problems were:
>>>> ·         Limited space for the actuator
>>>> ·         Not enough space on the rudder post to install a small tiller arm above or below the quadrant (really a 360 degree disk in this boat). If you don’t have that problem, the whole project gets much easier.
>>>> ·         The quadrant is not strong enough to take the load that the actuator can generate if there is simply a bolted attachment (Edson warns not to attach a ram to the quadrant).
>>>> I ended up designing and building a set of aluminum rings that bolt onto the quadrant to distribute the load imparted by the ram.  At the same time I installed hard rudder stops that a block mounted on the upper ring engages to limit rudder travel and prevent the ram from overrunning its range.  I also installed a rudder position sensor that the control head uses to limit rudder travel when the autopilot is engaged, so it never tries to drive the rudder against the hard stop.
>>>> I ended up with a Lecomble & Schmitt hydraulic actuator, because it was the only one I found that would fit in the space available, as the pump and actuator were separate units connected by hoses.  Longer electric units would extend into the cockpit locker and appeared much more difficult to mount. The static end of the actuator is bolted to an aluminum channel that is bolted to the underside of the cockpit sole behind the pedestal. I put the pump at the aft end of the cockpit locker, with the actuator just behind the adjacent partial bulkhead.  I also cut a large hatch into the floor of the cockpit locker to get better access to both the engine and the quadrant area.
>>>> Selected photos are attached.  I would be happy to discuss any of this further if that might help.
>>>> Good luck,   
>>>> Ray  #38 Thira
>>>> On Mon, Aug 10, 2020 at 1:10 PM Max soto <maxsoto at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> Hi everybody,
>>>>>  It’s been nine years since we were in this subject.  
>>>>> I’m going to make a second attempt to install a below deck unit. Will like something stronger than the wheelpilot. 
>>>>> I assume/hope that someone might have installed one In this years. If so, please send pics and tips. 
>>>>> I already have a Raymarine linear drIve type 1 ready to be installed. Hope I can make it fit somehow. 
>>>>> Regards,
>>>>> Max Soto A.
>>>>> +506-8312-1367
>>>>> C38 Estancia #198
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>> Listserve at catalina38.org
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>>>> <linear actuator - pump.JPG>
>>>> <Al channel to hold actuator.JPG>
>>>> <Al rings.JPG>
>>>> <mounting bolts for actuator support.JPG>
>>>> <Al rings - rudder stops - position sensor attachment.JPG>
>>>> <pump enclosure.JPG>
>>>> <pump in cockpit locker.JPG>
>>>> <quadrant - rudder position sensor.JPG>
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> -- 
> Donald R. Strong
> Professor,
> Department of Evolution and Ecology 
> and
> The Bodega Marine Laboratory,
> University of California, Davis,
> Davis CA
> 95616
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