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Octopus Type RS Mechanical Drive Unit

Jim Nuccio
 

Hi all, would like to ask for thoughts from the group regarding a mechanical drive autopilot product that I’m researching. I’d like to install an autopilot that will not require changing my cable steering to a hydraulic system. I also do not want to install a wheel mounted pilot.  This system is a remote mounted electric powered mechanical drive that can interface with most autopilot control heads.  It is made by Octopus, provides 300 lbs of push/pull force at the control cable. I attached the install guide which provides additional detail. It is designed for boats up to 37’ and up to 14,300 lbs displacement. I spoke with tech support and they are stating that based on average speed and light steering characteristics of the Willard the drive unit will handle the heavier displacement without a problem. 

I’d be very interested if anyone has had any experience with these Octopus drive units, or any thoughts or recommendations on this approach.

Thanks,

Jim
--
Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ

Pease, Dan
 

Seems like a lot of work to save an old cable steering system, (assuming it's old).
With the added benefit(?) that the wheel (s) will turn back and forth all day long as the AP works.
IMHO, hydraulic is the way to go. Brand new system. How nice would that be?
Mainstream.
What is the plus side?
Dan

On Tue, Dec 3, 2019, 21:49 Jim Nuccio <jimnuccio711@...> wrote:

Hi all, would like to ask for thoughts from the group regarding a mechanical drive autopilot product that I’m researching. I’d like to install an autopilot that will not require changing my cable steering to a hydraulic system. I also do not want to install a wheel mounted pilot.  This system is a remote mounted electric powered mechanical drive that can interface with most autopilot control heads.  It is made by Octopus, provides 300 lbs of push/pull force at the control cable. I attached the install guide which provides additional detail. It is designed for boats up to 37’ and up to 14,300 lbs displacement. I spoke with tech support and they are stating that based on average speed and light steering characteristics of the Willard the drive unit will handle the heavier displacement without a problem. 

I’d be very interested if anyone has had any experience with these Octopus drive units, or any thoughts or recommendations on this approach.

Thanks,

Jim
--
Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ

Peter P
 

Jim - I have seen discussions on the Octopus drive on a sailboat forum, but I can't remember exactly. I've looked at their website but there are so many options, tough to say what would work but certainly the specs on the unit make sense for your Searcher. Make sure the Octopus drive can be adapted for the dual-helm setup on your Searcher. Years ago when I owned Searcher (#5), I ran hydraulic steering to replace the worn Teleflex and allow installation of a hydraulic drive A/P. Probably had 20-25 hours or so of time into the install. Worked well. At the time, West Marine had "Bargain Stores" in the back of larger WM locations. I found most of the parts - Hynautics - there for not a lot of money. Might be cost prohibitive these days. 

M/V Weebles
1970 Willard 36 Sedan Hull #40

Ensenada, MX

Jim Nuccio
 

Dan and Peter, thanks for the input.  I did a more detailed review of costs associated with both options.  Looks like I can convert to hydraulic steering using a Sea Star system for about $2100, assuming I do the install. Adding a Garmin autopilot adds about another $3400.  Keeping my mechanical system and installing the Octopus unit with Sitex autopilot is about $3700 total.  Probably worth the $1800 difference to replace the older cable steering even if I have to phase this in over a year or so.  

Thanks again for your thoughts on this. 

Jim
--
Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ

Pease, Dan
 

Jim,

My advise comes after installing wheel pilot, which I think because of worn gearing in cables etc, did not work very well. We called it Ziggy. It was so embarrassing that when another boat was near, we shut it off and hand steered.

The Ray marine is a fine system and I have saved the next owner of my 30 horizon the aggravation by taking the ray marine evolution onto my next boat.

Dan


On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 9:56 PM Jim Nuccio <jimnuccio711@...> wrote:

Dan and Peter, thanks for the input.  I did a more detailed review of costs associated with both options.  Looks like I can convert to hydraulic steering using a Sea Star system for about $2100, assuming I do the install. Adding a Garmin autopilot adds about another $3400.  Keeping my mechanical system and installing the Octopus unit with Sitex autopilot is about $3700 total.  Probably worth the $1800 difference to replace the older cable steering even if I have to phase this in over a year or so.  

Thanks again for your thoughts on this. 

Jim
--
Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ

Peter P
 

Dan (re: "Ziggy" A/P comment). This was more or less my experience that caused me to covert my old W30 Searcher to hydraulic. I first tried a wheel-pilot but as you say, the slack in the cable was difficult. I then added the Hynautic hydraulic system and a lower-end Navico hydraulic A/P. While the spec's were fine, the brains were limited - probably worked fine on a fin-keeled sailboat but was awful on my full-keeled W30. I spent a couple hours with my head in the lazarette watching how it responded and sent Navico my findings asking for help. Navico was not responsive, so I asked West Marine for help via e-mail. Somehow, I was connected to Chuck Hawley, then head of customer service. He interceded on my behalf, essentially saying "Hey, Navico......this guy sounds like he's on to something. Maybe you should listen to him?" Navico promptly sent me their hi-end A/P that ended up working pretty well. By far, best part was meeting Chuck Hawley - I was just getting started with yacht deliveries and his introductions were instrumental. Plus, he's a helluva nice guy.  

M/V Weebles
1970 Willard 36 Sedan Hull #40

Ensenada, MX

Sean Eamon Kennedy
 

My cable steering system crapped out a couple of years ago. I opted to replace the cable and install a new Intelisteer/Octopus drive system. I don’t think it cost me much more than $1K and I was able to do it in a just a couple of days. My autopilot is a Sitex system and everything seems to run smoothly - no troubles going in a straight line or steering with the Sitex remote. (The Intelisteer also comes with a wireless remote steering system which works well, but I haven’t found a use for.)

The cable has to make some crazy tight curves and doesn’t lead to the drive system in a straight line, so I have a feeling it won’t last forever. (Neither will I!) I’d rather have a hydraulic system, but it didn’t pencil out for me in cost or effort to install. Even if I have to replace it again 5 or 10 years down the road it seems like a good option.

--
Sean Eamon Kennedy
Vega Voyager “Moonlight”

Brian Arndt
 

thought i’d chime in on the auto pilot subject. 
i operate Mv cora ( 30’ voyager)from anacortes. 
personally installed an all garmin system, 
radome, gps, plotter, autopilot, linear electric drive , all connected via nema2000 back bone. 
drive unit couples directly to the rudder horn. left the cabe drive intact. auto couples to the magenta line and will follow a course anywhere you want to go, just sit out front on a chair with binoculars, radio, and autopilot remote. 
makes long distance solo cruising a delight. 
highly recommended. 

(:

brian



On Dec 5, 2019, at 12:35 PM, Sean Eamon Kennedy via Groups.Io <s_eamon_k@...> wrote:

My cable steering system crapped out a couple of years ago. I opted to replace the cable and install a new Intelisteer/Octopus drive system. I don’t think it cost me much more than $1K and I was able to do it in a just a couple of days. My autopilot is a Sitex system and everything seems to run smoothly - no troubles going in a straight line or steering with the Sitex remote. (The Intelisteer also comes with a wireless remote steering system which works well, but I haven’t found a use for.)

The cable has to make some crazy tight curves and doesn’t lead to the drive system in a straight line, so I have a feeling it won’t last forever. (Neither will I!) I’d rather have a hydraulic system, but it didn’t pencil out for me in cost or effort to install. Even if I have to replace it again 5 or 10 years down the road it seems like a good option.

--
Sean Eamon Kennedy
Vega Voyager “Moonlight”

Jim Nuccio
 

Thanks Brian, that image will push me through the winter working on this upgrade.  Which Garmin autopilot did you use?

Thanks,

Jim
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Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ

Brian Arndt
 

hello jim (:
i think its the garmin ghc 10 or maybe 20. 

b


On Dec 6, 2019, at 8:38 AM, Jim Nuccio <jimnuccio711@...> wrote:

Thanks Brian, that image will push me through the winter working on this upgrade.  Which Garmin autopilot did you use?

Thanks,

Jim
--
Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ

Brian Arndt
 

i was mistaken 
it’s the garmin GHP 10
install about 6 yrs ago (:

b


On Dec 6, 2019, at 12:42 PM, Brian Arndt via Groups.Io <arndtlimited@...> wrote:

hello jim (:
i think its the garmin ghc 10 or maybe 20. 

b


On Dec 6, 2019, at 8:38 AM, Jim Nuccio <jimnuccio711@...> wrote:

Thanks Brian, that image will push me through the winter working on this upgrade.  Which Garmin autopilot did you use?

Thanks,

Jim
--
Jim N
W30 Searcher, Dulcinea
Manasquan, NJ