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question for thom?

Old 12-31-2002, 04:29 AM
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Okay, now that I have decided what autopilot that I want to install in my 24 ft. Thompson I am not sure if I have hydraulic steering or mechanical I thought hydraulic steering would lock up the steering wheel but mine doesn't,it does have a power steering pump on it. Can you help me out!! The autopilot that I have decided on will be simard AP -12 or AP -14 I just don't know what application.
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Old 12-31-2002, 06:33 AM
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Is there a hydraulic ram (cylander) attached to a tiller arm on your rudder post? Do you have a spot on the helm to put in fluid? Does a cable come out of your helm when you turn the wheel?
By power steering pump do you mean that you can't turn the wheel without it running, or are your turns lock-to- lock reduced with engines running? I strongly doubt that you have power steering, but I have seen some boats which have been modified with bizarre steering from John Deere tractors. (not a smart thing)
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Old 12-31-2002, 09:43 AM
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I do have a hydraulic cylinder attached to my tiller post, what I mean by power steering I have a reservoir on my motor to add fluid. I do not see anywhere on my helm that I could add oil to, I can turn my steering wheel while it is running or if my motor is off it seems to make no difference, I was wondering if this is called power assist? I need to know this to order to right auto pilot.
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Old 12-31-2002, 10:03 AM
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You have straight hydraulic steering. The autopilot pump will have 3 fittings, port,starboard and return.
Your ram probably has 2 lines (port and starboard) and the return most likely will go to a fitting behind the helm.
You might want to get professional help with the hydraulic part of the installtion since you'll have to get hoses and fittings made up. I would also suggest getting shut-off valves instead of just T-fittings. If you ever need to isolate the pump you'll be happy you made that investment.
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Old 01-01-2003, 04:44 AM
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so I do have hydraulic steering? What kind of hoses do I have to have made up they don't come with the auto pilot?
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:58 AM
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At this point no one can tell you what you will need for hoses. That's because you, and only you, have to decide where to mount the hydraulic pump for your autopilot. As Craven has so very correctly told you there will have to be three hoses made and they connect between the current steering and the pump. Reason dictates that the pump be somewhere reasonably close to the steering, just because short hoses will cost less than long hoses, but in fact you could mount the pump anywhere and run the hoses around the boat three times if you wanted to - it would have absolutly no effect on the operaton of the auto pilot.

You know, normally I like to suggest to people that they do their own instillations. It comes from my belief that its safer to know what is were, what it does, and how, inside your boat than it is not to. But that's not always the case. My impression is that you may not have a great deal of experience in such mechanical ventures. That alone is not something that is a big problem for putting one of these things in, its really not at all hard and the instructions that will come with the autopilot will be very good, but maybe you should have it installed anyway. I say that because there are tools to be bought and wires to be pulled, and hoses to be made and pulled and all manner of little subactivites that I don't think you are going to be very familiar with. So it may very well be that you might want to get someone who is experienced to either help you out or possibly just do the install for you.

Oh, I don't use valves in mine, but I do carry caps that I can stick on the T fittings if a line ruptures and the original plug that was in the reserviour (sp?) line. Of course if the steering were to let go Its not all that likely that I'd try for an on-water emergency fix, I'd just get on the radio for a tow. Of course as Squid Vicous well knows we did have a line break on our boat once and because we were only about a half mile away from the dock we turned around and came back - while steadly pouring additional hydraulic fluid into the helm unit as we went. Want to talk about a nasty mess behind the dash - but we were back on the water after a quick trip to the auto parts store for the caps and plugs that I carry now.

Thom

"For every complex question, there's a simple answer. And it's wrong."
(--H. L. Mencken)
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Old 01-01-2003, 09:58 AM
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Yup - Thom makes an excellent point that is valid for this or most any gadget - If you can't figure out how to install it and fix it when it breaks, you may best off not having it. Please don't take this as a slam because I know nothing of your mechanical or engineering skills or your experience turning wrenches. And I also am not categorizing or stereotyping you or anyone else, but rather I'm making a broad general common sense statement. Basically, there is no worse feeling than spinning the wheel and going straight. 'Specially when staring down the face of a 150 ton ferry blowing it's horn like the wind from the horn alone is gonna move you. Even if the best mechanic on earth installs it, he can't keep it running in case of an emergency.

This makes me think back to last nite - NYE and a light rain. Some little kid in a souped down, lowered, shiny wheeled, mosquito sounding honda is off to the side of the hiway going nowhere. He musta blew a tire and since he spent all his burger flippin' income to have someone else make his fancy custom ride for him, he didn't know how to change the tire. Or he forgot to put a spare in the trunk cuz the thumperboostersubwoofer took up all the space. I guess that it never dawned on the foo' that lowering the rig would preclude him from riding the rim off the highway, so there he sat.

I don't think anyone on this board is that level. There is a great amount of sense in coming here and asking the questions in the first place. I think even Thom has asked one or 2

Best of luck with the project and enjoy the adventure of learning how it all goes together

"Kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea" Lyle Lovett
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Old 01-01-2003, 05:46 PM
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thanks for the information, I'm pretty good mechanical problems and I have installed autopilots on several other boats but they have been all mechanical and all sport pilots easy install had never had to install a hydraulic system before.

PS thanks for bashing I didn't know I asked such a stupid question!!
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