Aires Windvane-Tillerpilot Upgrade          Back to Projects

The original article I wrote (and was published in Ocean Navigator magazine with the wrong photos!) described the integration I did with a Navico (and later a Raytheon) Tillerpilot and the Aires windvane (Nick Franklin's model #4). An upgrade to the method of attaching the Tillerpilot was subsequently made and is described in the accompanying photos and text. Though the Aires Model 4 windvane is rare, the principles described herein apply to any windvane-tillerpilot integration.

Photo #1. This overall photo shows the power&data cable connector at the rear of the lazarette locker and the basic mounting arrangement. Although my installation has a remote control which uses the data connection to the Tillerpilot, only a power connection is required if the controls on top of the Tillerpilot are accessible to the helm.

Photo #2. The physical mounting consists of a wooden bar clamped between two stanchions using quick release clamps that are sold for attaching the Lifesling hard case to stanchions. I chose this adjustable method to permit precise alignment of the Tillerpilot in a near horizontal plane, which makes the fluxgate compass in the Tillerpilot happy.

Photo #3. This shows the upgrade in attachment to the windvane. The windvane has weights which are adjustable to achieve a balance with the windvane blade. The weights are secured to their mounting arms with setscrews. Fortunately the setscrews have a 1/4-20 thread. On one of the weights I replaced the setscrew with a length of 1/4-20 bolt (with the head sawed off) and locknut. The locknut keeps the bolt firmly attached to the weight without making contact with the mounting arm. This permits the weight to rotate around the mounting arm, forming a universal joint that eliminates stress on the attachment due to changes of alignment when the Tillerpilot pushrod is in motion. A hose clamp under the weight secures the weight in it's working position.

Photo #4. This shows the alignment of the Tillerpilot pushrod with the windvane in it's mid-stroke position. What is required is for the end of the pushrod to move in a vertical plane coincident with the vertical plane of the pushrod.

Photo #5. Here is a view of the pushrod in its mid-stroke position with the windvane blade vertical. This is the neutral helm position. Notice a slight downward slant to the Tillerpilot.

Photo #6. This view shows the Tillerpilot pushrod in it's full inner stroke position with the Tillerpilot closer to a horizontal position. The same orientation exits when the Tillerpilot pushrod is in it's full extended stroke.

Although I have installed a  robust autopilot in VALHALLA, this integrated windvane-tillerpilot remains on board as a backup system.