This windvane gear was built for many years in France and came in three versions:
• trim tab on auxiliary rudder (System type 6)
• servo-pendulum (System type 11)
None of the systems had bevel gear yaw damping and all consequently required very precise trimming of the boat. Production ceased at the end of the 1980s following the untimely death of the manufacturer.
The Atoms servo-pendulum gear (System type 11) was produced in Nice, France, for many years and was very popular in its home waters. The distinctive features of this system were the aluminium windvane and the circular segment connecting the steering lines to the pendulum rudder which ensured uniform force transmission. It did not use a bevel gear. Production ceased at the beginning of the 1990s.
The Auto-Helm trim-tab-on-auxiliary-rudder gear (System type 6) is made in California. Rustic appearance and the inherent disadvantages of this system type have prevented it from achieving any more than local recognition.
The steering impulse in the Auto-Helm gear is transmitted from the windvane to the trim tab via two simple sheathed cables. There is no bevel gear.
The system comes in one size and is marketed by Scanmar Marine USA.
This British company makes two systems (Types 8 and 11). An identical windvane assembly is combined with either a servo-pendulum gear or a trim tab system attached to the main rudder. Both systems can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
The Spanish servo-pendulum gear Bogasol (sytem type 11) is similar in many ways to the French Navik system: the vane drives a small trim tab at the pendulum rudder without a bevel gear. The rudder can be lifted up at the side.
This rustic stainless steel servo-pendulum design (Type 11) from the Netherlands is aimed particularly at sailors who have the skills required to assemble a system supplied in kit form. If supplied fully assembled it is almost as expensive as visually more attractive professionally built systems.
The system comes in one size and can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
BWS TAURUS (System type 6)
Paul Visser recently took over this system after the previous manufacturer, Steenkist, ceased production. The systems are produced one at a time. Neither the auxiliary rudder nor the trim tab can be fixed in the centred position so the auxiliary rudder will interfere with steering under engine unless removed. The auxiliary rudder on boats whose main rudder is mounted far aft must be removed before manoeuvring under engine since otherwise the two rudders may collide. The transmission ratio of the force from the windvane to the trim tab must be adjusted manually to prevent the H vane oversteering.
The system is available in three sizes with auxiliary rudder areas of from 0.15 to 0.23 m and is custom made. BWS Taurus systems are some of the most expensive windvane gears available on the world market. They can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
BWS TAURUS (System type 6)
The Canadian-built Cape Horn servo-pendulum gear (System type 11) was introduced quite recently. The systems are hand made one at a time in stainless steel. The steering lines of the Cape Horn pass through the transom to the main rudder. This complicates installation because a hole of between 63 and 89 mm has to be drilled in the transom so that the pendulum arm and the steering lines can be mounted inside it (in the stern compartment) and the large hole then has to be very well sealed. Installation can involve a loss of buoyancy and stowage space at the stern in some boats. The system has no bevel gear and uses two simple 90 degree bends in the actuating rod to help reset the pendulum rudder. The relatively small power leverage and the dimensions of the windvane and push rod suggest that the range of this system might be limited in terms of boat size.
The Cape Horn does not include a wheel adaptor. The steering lines for wheel steering boats are led around a plastic cylinder mounted on the spokes of the wheel and have to be shortened or lengthened to fine trim the steering.
Two sizes are available, one for boats up to 40 feet and the other for boats over 40 feet. They can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
Australian Kevin Fleming launched his eponymous servo-pendulum system (Type 11) in 1974. The distinctive features of the system, besides the bevel gear, were the use of cast stainless steel components and the extension of the pendulum arm up to deck level, which reduced by four the number of turning blocks required. The system comes in three sizes and is relatively expensive. The company closed after a few years. Production was resumed in the mid-1980s by New Zealand Fasteners of Auckland, but sales remained fairly subdued. The Fleming system is now made in California and can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
An auxiliary rudder system (Type 4), the Hydrovane is manufactured in England by Derek Daniels. It is available in hand operated or remote control versions (VXA 1 and VXA 2) and has changed very little since its introduction in 1970.
The system features a three position linkage which allows the user to change the effective rudder angle to avoid oversteering. There is no choice of rudder size.
The rudder area amounts to 0.24 m2 (30 x 80 cm) and the Hydrovane is therefore limited to boats below a certain critical length. Although the manufacturer specifies the system for boats of up to 50 feet/18 t, the lack of servo assistance would tend to suggest that boats of this size might be too big to be steered effectively in all conditions. The Hydrovane rudder blade is a solid moulded plastic component and therefore has no intrinsic buoyancy. It can be dropped out of the shaft for removal.
Hydrovane systems are built in aluminium using industrial methods and have a good international reputation for their strength and reliability. The overall length and mounting components of the systems are individually tailored to match the particular boat. The range includes:
• VXA 1 system, hand operated
• VXA 2 system, remote control
Hydrovane supplies its products directly all over the world. LEVANTER
This British auxiliary rudder system (Types 4 and 10) was similar in many details to the Hydrovane, was available in three sizes and was very expensive. Production ceased a few years ago. Levanter recently launched the GS II, a small servo-pendulum system for boats up to 25 feet. The system can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
Preferring not to return to the cold of their native country at the end of their circumnavigation, Swedes Carl Seipel and Hans Bernwall eventually settled in Sausalito, California. They founded Scanmar Marine in 1978. The Monitor (System type 11), a handmade stainless steel gear, has been in production ever since. It is very similar to the Aries system and uses an identical bevel gear linkage. Although very well known in the USA Scanmar only began marketing this system worldwide in 1988.
Monitor's emergency rudder Monitor conversion kit (MRUD)
The Monitor is still almost unchanged from the original design. Hans Bernwall, now the sole proprietor, regards his product as a 'refined' version of the Aries, a gear he refers to respectfully as "Saint Aries". The Monitor is a traditional windvane steering system and requires a large mounting area on the stern. The steering lines pass through up to 10 turning blocks. Installation requires 16 bolts and individually tailored mounting components made by the manufacturer. The fore and aft inclination of the windvane cannot be adjusted; the wheel adaptor is adjusted using a track and pin arrangement.
An emergency rudder conversion kit (MRUD) was introduced for the Monitor in 1997. A larger rudder blade with an area of around 0.27 m is fitted in place of the standard pendulum rudder blade and then the pendulum arm is stabilised in 6 places with a series of reinforcing measures.
The Monitor comes in one size for boats of up to about 60 feet. The system can be seen at most of the European boat shows and is distributed by the manufacturer and various sales partners.
The Mustafa, an auxiliary rudder system using a trim tab (Type 6), is produced by Italian Franco Malingri. This enormous system is now very seldom seen. The large area of the rudder blades puts considerable stress on the transom mounting. The system has yaw damping. Weighing up to 60 kg, it is probably the heaviest windvane steering system available.
The Mustafa comes in two sizes:
The systems can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
This French servo-pendulum system (Type 11), which weighs only 18.5 kg, is particularly popular on small boats in its home country. The system is of rather delicate construction and uses plastic linkage components, making it impractical for larger boats. A SUPER NAVIK system for larger boats was introduced but then withdrawn again almost immediately. The special feature of the Navik, its lifting pendulum rudder, is not particularly convenient for everyday use since disassembling the axle is very complicated. The windvane is connected to the rudder blade with delicate plastic ball-and-socket joints which are quite fragile. The system comes in one size.
The Navik system does not appear at the European boat shows and is available from the manufacturer and from dealers.
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Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.