The materials used to manufacture windvane steering systems are normally determined by their production method. Most hand-made systems are fabricated from stainless steel. Aesthetic impression tends to be subordinate here to functionality, and such systems bear much of the blame for the reluctance of many sailors to (dis)grace their beautiful transom with a windvane steering system.
Another consideration is accuracy of construction. Hand-made systems are almost always built within certain tolerances; tubes bend, for example, when they are welded. The counterargument to this, that tubular stainless steel models are easier to repair, fails to stand up in practice: few boats will carry the tools necessary to straighten a collision-damaged system.
Industrially produced systems are generally constructed in aluminium. The use of sand or die casting and CNC machine tools permits very precise manufacture of identically dimensioned components. This method of manufacture also gives the designer considerably more freedom to consider appearance.
Aluminium is not just aluminium. The majority of aluminium windvane steering systems are built in AlMg 3 grade alloy, although AlMg 5, which is completely resistant to salt water, is better: aluminium ships, for example, are built in AlMg 4.5 grade alloy, a material which is able to resist the action of seawater even if left uncoated. Windvane gear components are either coated (Sailomat) or anodised (Hydrovane, Aries, Windpilot Pacific) for surface protection. Windpilot would be the only manufacturer using high grade AlMg 5 as standard.
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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.