The crazy Australians that built my hydraulic steering system had a tendency to super-size everything. Not a bad thing in a steering system actually. But the auto-pilot got super-sized too, and that was maybe not perfect. With the original pump the HO/HO time is about 2.5 seconds, which is waaay to fast. So I have had the system running throttled. But then it consumes too much power, so the batteries run out... Now I'm replacing it with a more sensible sized unit...
Right now the forecast is for zero wind the next two days and then too much wind... So we're doing some fixing work while waiting. On the last leg there was some noise from the rudders, which is of course not very good to hear when you are on a long crossing. We did an assessment of what was going on while we were sailing and saw that it was not a big problem, the upper bearings were a bit loose but they could not get any looser than they were so it was nothing to be anxious of. Today when fixing this I saw the cause of the problem. The yard had clear instructions never to mount any stainless bolts directly on aluminum, as the will cause corrosion. In this case they had put in plastic washers, but since the space was limited they had cut a bit off from them, and then used very small stainless washers on top. This caused excessive pressure on the plastic, which had gotten deformed and thus caused the bolts to loosen. I guess I will have to put this on the list of things to check when building the next Journeyman... Anyway, the plastic washers have now been replaced by anti-corrosion Teflon protective gel.
This took a lot longer than I expected it to. The autopilot is connected to almost every corner of the boat! One sensor on the targa, one sensor, pump and control unit in the transom, both the NMEA0183 and the NMEA2000 instrumentation buses, control panel in the cockpit, follow-up remote at the nav station, and then lots of power connections to make sure the power hungry pump unit runs only when necessary. Plus it sits in a not-so-easily accessed location. And after the initial connections were done it turned out to have a software bug, so I had to ship all parts down to Furuno in Gothenburg to get it upgraded, and then mount them again. Phew. But now it's done.
Today I got rid of a couple of things that have annoyed me for some time.Actually, I have a list of about 60 of these. And the only way of making the list smaller is fixing them.... A small annoyance was that the starboard side helmsman seat would gather a small pool of water on the seat when it was raining. It was really small, but still enough to cause unnecessary chilling of the helmsman's rear end in cold weather. It was a bit tricky to fix because the drain had to be put in very close to the inner wall of the storage compartment underneath the seat. But now it's in place, and all you see from the outside is the two small holes that I pointed arrows at in this photo: A much bigger annoyance was the fact that the hydraulic steering was leaking air into itself, which was causing it to leak oil when the temperature got warm. So now we finally found the leak, fixed it and did a thorough bleeding of the system. I am hopeful it's going to be more well behaved now. Two conical threads in the cross-link valve in the back of this photo were the culprits:
The steering problem that hit us during the trip from Västervik to Stockholm was quite simple. (Everything is once you know it, right?) The installation instructions clearly tell you to put a cap with a breader hole in the filling port of the steering pumps. But I have two steering pumps, and two breather holes is a bad idea. If the boat is heeling air comes in through the upper, which allows the oil to run out of the lower... Yesterday I finally got the equipment for refilling the system from Estonia. I had gotten hold of the right oil earlier. So today we refilled the system and tried to get all air out. It was mostly successful. But not 100% since I have now installed rudder endstops, which stops the tiller arm before the hydraulic cylinder reaches its endpoint. This means that the last 10-20 mm of travel on each end of the cylinder is not accessible, and thus cannot be emptied from air. So to get the steering 100% exact we have to remove the endstops and go through the refill operation again. Oh well... It's dark now, that will have to be done another day. No panic since the sail-makers are down with fever. Trial sails are postponed until next week, preliminary Tuesday-Wednesday.