Freeing Up Our Pacific Plus Wind Pilot Self Steering


One of the problems with not winterising your self-steering gear properly is that 18 months down the line you pay for it. When we started recommissioning Esper at the beginning of the year we were horrified to discover that our Pacific Plus self-steering gear would not budge. Worse still, I had turned the auxiliary rudder round so that it was pointing inwards and therefore made the brass gears inaccessible. This meant that I was not able to put on the paddle section, engage the gears and rotate the paddle in order to ‘break’ the seizure.

Instead we got Bryan of BTVEE involved, a sailor and engineer who was able to make a bracket for us. Before I continue further, I include a schematic of the bracket. You may click on the blueprint below to view a full-screen version in a Lightbox effect.

Alternatively you can download a printable image of the plans here .

I don’t need to say any more as it’s all contained in this comprehensive video. Thanks go to Bryan, Gladwyn and Peter Foerthmann, the designer of the Pacific Plus. Oh, and next time we’ll remember to decommission our Pacific Plus properly. I’ve always said I don’t mind making a fool of myself if someone else learns from my mistakes; didn’t Confucius say “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes”? I think he did.

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10 Comments on “Freeing Up Our Pacific Plus Wind Pilot Self Steering”

  1. Fogey Demon

    That’s really good news-also proves a bit of brute force and hot water works wonders! Presumably there’s no sign of permanent damage to the unit?

    1. Jamie

      Not as far as we can see, though we’ve still to take the thing apart. Funnily enough I was warned of this happening by a sailor who was here for a few months who said it’s not uncommon for the Teflon bearing to seize like this. The important thing is that we know this is what the problem is. Knowing what the problem is always halves the headache!

  2. Brian Reynolds

    Hi thx that is very helpful as mine has nearly siezed. In practice there is too much resistance so it does not respond to the water paddle. How did u dismantle the shaft to clean the teflon bearings please?
    Thx Brian

    1. Jamie

      Hi Brian. Sounds like you’re at the same stage as us as we’ve yet to do this bit! However it’s on Liz’s list (though she doesn’t know this yet) and will be taking it down the yard for some sorting out. We’ll try and video that too if I’m around.

  3. Brian Reynolds

    Hi Jamie perhaps you would be good enough to e mail me when u have dismantled ur windpilot please. Brian

  4. Dad

    Hello Jamie-looking at your video it strikes me Peter Foerthmann needs to consider a design change to allow for winterization. Clearly the paddle has to be folded away to avoid damage, but as I am not familiar with the kit, it’s difficult to see how such a change could be achieved other than having the shaft in two sections, but that then increases the stress factors. Bla Bla

    1. Jamie

      Perhaps what is not clear from the video is the ability to take off the paddle. This can be done but this is not the issue; the problem occurs from dirt getting into the top part of the shaft so the real trick to winterising the kit is to either take the whole lot off and store it inside or, as we should have done, get a ‘sock’ made for it that sits on top of the whole mechanism.

    1. Jamie

      Hi Brian, no we haven’t. In fact up until yesterday we were not going to as we had pressure on to leave by the 9th and that job slipped down the list. However I can tell you that Liz continued to wash the Pacific Plus every day with detergent, flushing it with fresh water, and after a week it was completely back to normal! Now that we do not have to leave by the 9th we will have more time and will attempt this second stage of the recovery process.

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