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Old 12-19-2009, 03:49 AM   #1
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While I can understand the principle of built-in obsolescence, the marketer in me simply rebels when I see manufacturers continually releasing updated products and at that same time ensuring that all spare parts for previous models are recalled from service centres and distributors. No matter how minor the fault, if you need a new part - basically you're stuffed.

We have been chasing a replacement 'Planet gear' for our Raymarine ST4000 Tiller autohelm ram which recently cracked. There are 4 of these tiny gears located at the base of the ram, seated on 4 pins atop a small stainless steel spindle. The end cog on the motor sits between them and together they drive the ram up and down the arm. Not rocket science - just 4 x simple 22 x teeth gears made of bakerlite by the looks of them.

Most of you are probably way ahead of me by now - and yes - totally correct - Raymarine do 'not have' any parts. From their head office in the UK to here in Oz - they simply 'do not' exist and the only option we have is to fork out another $2400 for a new ram which 'miracles of miracle's will work with our existing control head electronics. Heaven help us if it didn't as the whole shebang retails at approx $3900.

Now I'm not talking about an item that went out of production 30 years ago with spare parts buried metres deep under Steptoe & Sons Scrap and Salvage Yard - I'm talking about an item that went out of production late 2006 early 2007.

I called the UK and spoke with everyone from the Sales Manager, Service Manager right down to the guy who replaces the plastic water cups in reception - they are all reading from the same script 'sorry - you'll have to upgrade to the new model'.

Now I'm used to software upgrades constantly dropping in my lap - but let's face it, they are replacement items that wont require us selling the neighbours kids to the next set of gypsies that pass through our area or my wife or I hocking a kidney on Ebay.

Even when I explained that we had the latest Raymarine radar, VHF, AIS, Wind Instruments, Charts, hand towels, toothbrush and tupperware collection - the story was the same. When I also added that while I was very happy with their products, I would now have to think twice about purchasing another autohelm from them for fear of being left high and dry next month when the next upgrade in the new Spring fashion colours comes along; you could almost hear the gaeilic shrug over the phone - 'sorry - not interested'.

Last week I ran into a local watch maker and jeweller - he took one look at the gear and said 'piece of cake'. He is now making a mold and will cast me new gears in bronze and if any of you are stuck in the same situation - drop me a line and perhaps we'll cast a few extras. Will my next marine electronic purchase be a Raymarine? - you be the judge.

Rant over for the day

Fair winds
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Old 12-19-2009, 04:12 AM   #2
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Hi there, I'm glad that you found a jeweler to cast the part for you in bronze. That will likely last. Other choices include having it custom machined. There is a place online called EMachineShop that allows you a 3D cad program download and you can design the part and have it made by their computerized machining systems. There are other similar services. Finally, sometimes gears are rather standard and you can find a gear that is identical to the one that is giving problems.

In the past, I've milled a few things for our car--parts that were out-of-production and couldn't be located for a 70's era SAAB 99 for example. The pics below are of a special bushing that is required for the steering rack--no bushing means no steering. It was plastic and I milled a replacement. We have the little countertop mill-drill that I used for this project--it lives in a trunk in our storage unit but will have a place of honor on the boat since it can be used to fabricate some (not all, of course!) boat parts in a pinch.



milling



hubby holding the new and old parts



me, happy that it fits properly with its little tabs and flat exterior surfaces into the proper depressions along the steering rack.

On the complete opposite end of of your experience and impressions with Raymarine on the autohelm, we decided to stick with a Wood Freeman autopilot because of the fact that they're still making parts for Wood Freeman autopilot models as old as the ones made in the 1940's. We had an early 60's era model but "upgraded" our autopilot to one that they made in the early 1980's and was typically installed on large yachts and fishing boats. The company sold the rights to make all the parts for the autopilots to a company down in Texas and since many fishing fleets still use the Wood Freeman pilots, I imagine mechanical parts will be available for many more years to come.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:30 PM   #3
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Mico

Although you have solved the problem, I wonder if you had contacted Raymarine Support in their web page. I needed apart for my ST4000S last year, which I had a hard time to locate in the EU. They were very helpful.

Vasilis
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Old 12-20-2009, 10:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Istioploos View Post
Mico

Although you have solved the problem, I wonder if you had contacted Raymarine Support in their web page. I needed apart for my ST4000S last year, which I had a hard time to locate in the EU. They were very helpful.

Vasilis
Hi Istioploos,

Yes sent them an email and they put me in contact with their main service centre here in oz but no parts were available. We have a spare ST 1000 which while a bit undersized should get us through our sail up to Lizard Island over the Christmas break. Hopefully we'll have the replacement gears in the new year.

Fair winds
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Old 12-22-2009, 09:41 AM   #5
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Yes,

One item that is not being left behind is the CNC mill which at that time will be four axi' (currently three) and will have another 30mm of depth in the z axis minimum. Looking at how to make it a five axis and still ave it be mobile (reasonably so at least). Reason being that one tool can cut just about any shape I could need to repair a part of the boat. I already have the tungsten carbide bits and will be getting a few of the higher quality TiAlN bits before going sailing as that will let me cut 316 stainless without a problem and have a very good life span of usage.

Michael
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:02 AM   #6
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Is not Raymarine the worst? I was getting spares for our Hydraulic Ram, but having just as much luck as you had with the phone answerers....I discovered that Raymarine simply re-brands Hy-Pro units, and the folks at Hy-Pro (SHOCK) had the parts, sent them to me instantly, and were entirely professional including sending the drawing for installation tool! I have found parts for other equipment the same way, but hardly ever are where we have a good high speed internet connection. I applaud your finding a jeweler (marine jewelery takes on an entirely new meaning) right -o!

fair winds
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Old 10-21-2010, 08:44 AM   #7
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The big issue I have with my Raymarine ST4000 RAM is getting a replacement motor(s). I have searched the web for the same model but only seem to be able to locate suppliers that will sell me batches of a hundred or more. Has anyone had any success getting hold of a supplier of new motors?
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agollow View Post

The big issue I have with my Raymarine ST4000 RAM is getting a replacement motor(s). I have searched the web for the same model but only seem to be able to locate suppliers that will sell me batches of a hundred or more. Has anyone had any success getting hold of a supplier of new motors?
Some years ago I was in the need to get replacement parts for ¬*my Raymarine ST 2000. I pretty soon learned that I had to send in the whole machine (which I let do the yacht chandler, who was not able to order single parts) and RAYMARINE repaired it. The failure luckily happened to my ST 2000 which they still have in their product range - and not to my¬* ST 4000 Tiller pilot, which I have since 1991, but which is no longer in their product range. But the drive unit of the new SPX-5 Tiller autopilot looks the same as the ST 4000 Unit. ¬* And here we are again at the beginning of this thread and the product politics of RAYMARINE.

Just sold two old (broken) ST 1000 tiller pilots on a maritime flea marked and they were sold faster than anything else. No wonder why.

Guess, you tried already this ¬*¬*address.

Uwe

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Old 10-21-2010, 03:57 PM   #9
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Michael

I know this is rather late for the thread, but what CNC are you using that will fit on a boat?

I've got an Enco lathe and No-name mill to make telescope parts. The lathe is around 1300 lb and the mill 300 but perhaps

you have a lathe/mill combo? Surely I'd like a similar thing but find that even ashore you really need a complete workshop and

crates of "stuff" ( material ) to make things. How do you manage and what is your philosophy?

Power is another thing. My 120v fluorescent light works fine off the inverter but flickers when I run it off the generator. WTF? Now does

the CNC have similar issues? I hear they need quite good power/freq. regulation to perform adequately and aren't they often wired

3-phase as well?

I heartily agree with the idea of making things or finding the original source/supplier of parts. It is amazing how a $5 bearing suddenly becomes $45 the moment it appears in a furler or a water pump on a boat .

Ivo
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:25 AM   #10
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Default planet gears available?

My Raymarine ST4000 autopilot mashed the pilot gears (the pins rusted-through). Like Mico says, Raymarine cannot (read: will not) supply replacements.

Like Mico, "We have been chasing a replacement 'Planet gear' for our Raymarine ST4000 Tiller autohelm ram which recently cracked. There are 4 [in my case the wheel unit has 12] of these tiny gears... Not rocket science - just 4 x simple 22 x teeth gears made of bakerlite by the looks of them."

I'm wondering if anyone has found a source for these gears.

Mico--did yours get made? Did they work? Can I have the contact information for the shop that made yours?
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Old 01-09-2013, 01:10 PM   #11
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I reckon one of these would be the bees' knees:

http://www.makerbot.com/
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:04 PM   #12
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Default Nice try!

Quote:
Originally Posted by haiqu View Post
I reckon one of these would be the bees' knees:

Home
You're not kidding! Of course, if I could afford one of those, I wouldn't be worrying about trying to fix an old autopilot!
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:15 PM   #13
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Mico--did yours get made? Did they work? Can I have the contact information for the shop that made yours?[/QUOTE]


We came across a second hand unit in the end and salvaged the gears from that. Although this worked for a while we were a bit concerned about doing another blue water knowing that no more parts were available, so we bit the bullet and installed a new Raymarine Grand Prix 5. - but guess what? surprise, surprise...Raymarine had separated the control head into two units - a display and then a computer so you have to buy the whole box and dice and do a lengthy install.

Apple have this down to a fine art by changing the power plugs for each generation of laptops and releasing them with new operating systems that are incompatible with many of your existing design programs. You then have to pay for expensive updates or new program replacements.

The latest trap is sneaking radical changes into existing programs as 'updates'. The most recent and disturbing one was clicking on 'update' to iTunes and then suddenly finding all your music and movie files have been located to 'Cloud' a third part Apple/adobe server. Amazon books now send your purchases to Cloud rather than simply allowing you to download them onto your computer.

For the professional design and audio industry, Cloud is one of the most hated developments ever. Rather than purchasing a design program and keeping that program on your computer, Apple and Adobe are pressuring everyone to simply 'rent time' on their Cloud system and accessing 'their' versions of those programs.

At the same time, Apple and Adobe have jacked up the prices of all the stand alone programs and are heavily restricting access to program updates. You can no longer buy many of the programs on a disc but rather, have to download them (often a couple of hours to do) from their websites.

Built in obsolescence!

It's all about reducing consumer choice and capturing you completely.

No wonder I am most happiest when we're out on the water - far from the maddening crowd!

Fair Winds


Mico (This may well be our last post as Mico as we hand her over to the new owners this weekend ) Next week we'll be posting as Australis (our new 44 Antigua Ketch based in Borneo)
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Old 08-18-2013, 10:18 PM   #14
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Default Help needed please !

Hello Mico
I have a friend without internet access who has asked me to contact you for advice re his ST4000 Tiller Autohelm.
Is there any way he can call you on a mobile phone ... or are you in Bourneo?
Thanks in advance.
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