…and the major construction for this season is now done.

The Raymarine autopilot is now complete.  I had to build a little shelf and mount it near the rudder post for the rudder transducer, and that is now done.  The transducer measures the angle of the rudder and ensures that the course computer doesn’t try to drive the rudder past its limits in either direction.

Rudder Lift Pulley SystemThe next project I took on was to replace the lines that lift and lower the rudders.  The existing rope was a single continuous loop that attached to the top of the rudder, went up over the aft gunwale thru a cleat, and down thru a hole to come out again on the underside of the rudder.  When you pull the rope in one direction, it pulls the rudder down tight and ensures that it is deep in the water for good steering control.  When you pull in the opposite direction, it raises the rudder clear of the water. When you motor a Mac26M faster than about 7 knots though, you have to lift the dagger board and rudders and steer with just the outboard motor.  I described in my last post how I added a pulley to the dagger board lift line to make it 50% easier to raise the board.  I wanted to do the same with the rudders, and this was the result.

I started by removing the old lines. Before yanking them out though, I taped the new line to the end so that when I pulled it out it also threaded the new line properly.   I used new 5/16″ line for this. Then I attached a new lift line to the top of the rudder that was only a couple of feet long.  At the end of the line I tied on a pulley.  Then I took the line from the bottom of the rudder that comes up through the boat and cleat and ran it down through the new pulley and back up to a support rod for the seat. I intend to make a more permanent attachment point to the underside of the seat, similar to how the original turning block that handles the line running down from the cleat.  But the support rod should be plenty strong enough to hold the weight of the rudder.  When I trailer I put in the rudder lift bolts anyway.  The picture to the upper-right shows the final result.

The final project was an unexpected one.  I discovered that sometime during the first construction weekend I must’ve dropped something sharp on the water tank under the rear berth and punctured it.  It must’ve been heavy, because it went the whole way through and punctured the bottom side as well. I used a Plastimo flexible tank, which worked great here, but it is obviously vulnerable to sharp objects.  Instead of patching with adhesives that might contact our potable water supply, I decided to just replace it.  I took advantage of the opportunity to get a larger tank than I originally had.  New tank installed, and no leaks now.  Woohoo!

So it’s been an extremely busy, but very fulfilling three weekends. I upgraded the electric system, doubling the 12v circuit capacity, then immediately took advantage of it by installing a dual-voltage refrigerator, and autopilot, and revamping the power wiring to the TV and media player.  The Raymarine Evolution autopilot system with the SportDrive should make the cruising along the Pacific Northwest coast and the Salish Sea much more enjoyable. Finally, the Admiral should have a  much easier time pulling on any of the lines when she needs to because of the addition of all the new pulley systems.

This coming Friday we take Southern Star up to Anacortes and put her into her new home slip and spend the weekend commissioning and testing the new autopilot.  We’ll be staying on board and enjoying food preserved without having to buy a new block of ice every day.  Let Boating Season Begin!!!

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Categories: Modifications | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “…and the major construction for this season is now done.

  1. Pingback: The 2014 MacGregor/Tattoo Owner’s Rendezvous at Anacortes | Southern Star Adventures

  2. Alan Saunders

    Dave,
    We own a 2007 26M and have been considering adding a Ray Marine auto-pilot. I have noticed in my research they offer 2 different models for our boats. One is for a sailboat with the large ring on the wheel and the other is a sport version (usually found on motor boats) with the smaller ring on the shaft of the wheel. I am curious now that you have had time to use yours, are you happy with the selection? Just wanted to know before I spend the $.
    We enjoy reading of your adventures and mods.
    Alan & Patti

  3. Alan, the one I got is the “sport” version. The wheel diameter on a MacGregor is too similar to the diameter of the wheel drive from Raymarine, making it very awkward to use unless you put in spacers between the drive and the spokes of the wheel. Without spacers, you can no longer get your fingers the whole way around the wheel. I’ve seen several people do the spacer trick, and I’m sure it’s then fine. However, the Sport drive has worked wonderfully for me. It makes following a straight line course much easier, with more time to spend looking around for other boats and just plain enjoying the scenery instead of concentrating on keeping the boat on a straight line. A big expense, but very much worth it. The real trick is mounting the rudder sensor. I built a shelf next to the starboard side rudder attachment and mounted the sensor there, attached to rudder bar with epoxy and a very small clamp. I think I have it attached to the rudder bar too far from the pivot point though – it has too much travel there and pops the connection out if I push the rudders the whole way over. So on my next trip up, I’ll be moving the clamp back about 3/4 of an inch to reduce the range of the left-right travel on the sensor and not strain the limits so much.
    Dave

    • Alan

      Considering the sport pilot too. How is the noise level from the drive unit?

      • Well, we spend most of our time motoring, so it doesn’t bother us at all, since it’s drowned out by the outboard motor. However, I’ve also heard it during the dock setup when the motor wasn’t running. It’s a low “whirr” sound when it’s turning the wheel. I don’t think it would be bad even when you’re sailing and the motor’s off.

        I’m still thrilled with it. It’s awesome not to have to spend every moment at the wheel just keeping Star going in a straight line. I can enjoy the scenery more and actually scan the horizon more looking for traffic to avoid. So it’s better all around!

        Dave

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