Cradle & auto-pilot updates

Changabang on her cradle

When I bought Changabang she was resting on her cradle in Frossay. As you can see above this cradle has proved useful over the years, in particular for post-Transat races delivery. It was also perfect to ship her to San Diego. And it would be great for post-Transpac races transport too. But, the future of this cradle is looking bleak at this time. It’s been in “storage” at Berkeley Marine Center. But they want me to take it out. If I have to pay for storage (or transport for that matter) then that’ll likely be the end of it. If you have any suggestion or can assists, let me know.

In terms of storage space the problem with the cradle is that, although the posts and resting pads can be disassembled, the base can’t. I’m also considering cutting the base (and then weld it back together when it’ll be required, or bolt a few steel bars onto it).

AP fixed, maybe?

I finally got the primary auto-pilot back into production. To be fair, until it’s tested in actual sailing conditions I won’t know for sure if all is good. Dock testing seemed to confirm a successful repair. So what was wrong?

Damaged brushes

The above picture shows the carbon brushes of the electric motor that pushes the oil to actuate the piston (which in turn turns the rudder). If you look closely you’ll see that the little spring in there is broken (due to corrosion, and possibly high current as there are burn marks). I was told by Lecomble & Schmitt to replace the motor. I thought that to be excessive so I also ordered a new set of brushes. After replacing them the motor seemed to work just fine. I put the new motor in action today. When I was done with that I went in to test the auto-pilot, without success. Darn, way to run a post-repair joy moment!

What then?

Power to the clutch.

The motor would spin but the rudder wouldn’t turn. After applying 12V to the clutch I could determine that the clutch was indeed working. I concluded that somewhere upstream no voltage was being applied. I first verified that proper voltage was coming out of the NKE “brain”. After that it was a matter of tracing where the loose connection was. And, as the above picture shows, it was right at the plug that powers the clutch! The black wire had come loose (also see corrosion on the red wire).

So in the end there were two problems. I suspect one was a consequence of the other. Maybe the sequence was that the clutch stopped working, the motor kept spinning, the spring finally broke, things got haywire. I now have 4 motors! And I need to improve water tightness of the lazarettes where these are stored (or look for an alternative solution, which, as we know, on a boat, would turn into a big project). The simple solution (thanks Brian) is to mount the motor inside the boat, close to the lazarette, and drill 3 holes to guide the hydraulic hoses through. At first glance, this seems like a reasonable project.

That’s it for now.

Author: Skipper

Wannabe circumnavigator.

3 thoughts on “Cradle & auto-pilot updates”

  1. Philippe, post about storing the cradle on the SSS forum. There are SSS members who have a fair bit of land and could easily store it for you. Transporting it would be another matter.

  2. I do not understand much about the problems you are having, but I hope you will fix them soon. Boat riding is also a great way that I often use to relieve stress. Good luck!

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