Aries steering vane Part III

A quick recap:

The vane gear that came with Satori has never been rebuilt. It’s completely original and everything is there except that it needs to be rebuilt. There is a rebuilt kit available from England and I was able to disassemble the vane gear to be cleaned and rebuilt so I can continue using it. Last week I spent an evening disassembling the final parts and cleaning and polishing to prepare for the rebuild. Yesterday the two rebuild kits came in the mail. One for now, one for 30 years from now. I doubt these kits will be available for much longer. $200 per rebuild kit is much, much cheaper than new vane gear. These run upwards of $3000 so I opted for a laborious rebuild over a new-used one.

Vane gear rebuild kit

I spent some time yesterday cleaning and preparing the servo rudder casting to install new bushings. I bought a chisel to assist in removing the bushings and a reaming drill bit to clean off the old epoxy from where the old bushings were glued in. These were very helpful at first and then some 60 grit sandpaper polished and prepared the area for new glue and bushings. I suggest starting with a jigsaw to cut out the old bushings. I didn’t try this at first and ended up cutting a little alloy at the casting. The new bushings did not come with a hole for spirol pins so I ended up drilling new ones and then epoxied the new bushings into place. I will let that dry overnight and then assemble the servo assembly.

Update: I was able to get much of the assembly completed yesterday. A nice coat of bike hub grease between the tooth vane carriage and the ratchet base plate makes the rotation of the tooth vane smooth. I also greased the bevel gears to keep the friction down. The only issue I had was a crossed thread problem with one of the fork end grub screws that holds one of the joint block pins in place. Later I realized that there is a couple of nylon washers that sit in between the fork and connecting rod but there is little friction in between so I opted to leave them out instead of risking having to tap the threads again, which involves buying a new tap. New taps need to be measured against the grub screw and I’m not going down that path. Moving on….. The last two components are the vane holder assembly and the ratchet assemblies. I’ll wrap it up tonight assuming all goes well and by this evening I should have a fully rebuilt vane gear. I’m still missing the mounting blocks but I have an invoice in my records that shows these were purchased from England and are probably stowed somewhere still on the boat. Assuming these are found this weekend and the vane gear can be remounted before I take Satori to Seattle. This is what you call sweat equity at it’s finest.

Final Update: Assembly is complete! I was able to assemble the final vane holder assembly and I only need to thread the lines that attach to the tiller and add a couple of bolts to the breakaway sleeve at the rudder. I also had to reuse one of the wedge spacers which you can see in the final photo below. It’s the original white one that is slightly narrower than what came in the rebuild kit. It was in fine condition so it should last another 30 years or so.

Chisel the old bushing away
Using a jigsaw and chisel I was able to remove the old bushings.
Rasp the old epoxy
A tapered rasphead bit cleans the old epoxy back down to alloy. Some additional sanding preps the new bushings.
Nylon rollers as needle bearings
New bushings and greased up nylon roller bearings offer long-tern smooth rotation of the vane.
Click pawl system to correct steering, new springs and a clean and lubricated housing.
Click pawl system to correct steering, new springs and a clean and lubricated housing.
A freshly rebuilt Aries Standard Vane Gear
A freshly rebuilt Aries Standard Vane Gear

Lines are threaded, new pins for the rudder are on order and only a bit of chain remaining to complete the working vane. I will post one more update in the future to demonstrate the use of this autopilot contraption. I must mention that the engineer of this vane gear was brilliant. He passed away a few years ago and I was fortunate to still be able to buy a rebuild kit for it. Each part was very well engineered and meant to last several lifetimes. I am really excited to not only have successfully rebuilt it but also to be able to use it reliably while cruising.

2 Replies to “Aries steering vane Part III”

  1. Looking good! Just finished rebuilding the same model. Curious how the mounting brackets worked out? I am looking for some now, 260Euro for set of 4 delivered from Netherlands….

    1. The mounting brackets are necessary for the Crealock style double enders so you can mount the windvane under the boomkin. 260 euros seems steep, but I’d do it so I could use the wind vane. They are necessary for sailing long distances with a shorthanded crew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *