Aries Vane Gear

Aries steering vane part II

After much procrastinating today I tackled the steering vane disassembly. I spent some time doing a little research on some idea on how to get the thing apart. I went to the hardware store and bought a spray can of liquid wrench, wire brush-head for my drill and a center punch. I sprayed every single place I could find something connected to something else with the liquid wrench. I also kept spraying when the first pass soaked in already. All of the allen grub screws came out and it finally started coming apart. A couple of details for anyone who is overhauling their own.

  • A parts inventory is available for the standard vane gear, which is the model I am overhauling.
  • Everything I point out was already explained on the rebuilding hints page for the most part. In hindsight I would have slowed down a little and read a little more on the hints. You might want to print out a copy of the parts list and assembly and possibly the hints while working on the vane.
  • There are only about 81 parts. If you know how to work on bikes or small engines then this should be intuitive to you.
  • None of the alloy tubes will disconnect from the joints. They are totally frozen. Don’t worry these do not need to be disassembled.
  • The ‘Joint Block Pin – Plain End’ (parts #37) that appear to easily go through the alloy in one piece actually pull outward in two parts after loosening the allen grub screws on both ends of the connecting rod (part #38 in the inventory list).



  • Spirol pins shown inside of tube are holding the lower bevel gear in place. These are not grub screws but go through both the gear and the ‘Stainless Servo Rudder Spindle’ (part #63). These should not be removed without having replacements and as far as I can tell, the rebuild kit does not offer a replacement, therefore should probably be left alone.

steering vane bronze gear




  •  The Stainless Servo Rudder Spindle needs to be removed from the ‘Servo Rudder Casting’ (part #60). The bushings need to be removed and all epoxy cleaned from the casting.
  • The retaining collar attached at the bottom of the spindle has stripped grub screws from trying to break them loose. This will need to be removed by a saw or several screw holes and a chisel to cut the alloy sleeve in half.
  • The fork end needs to be removed from the connecting rod (part #38) but there is also one in the rebuild kit.

wind vane mostly disassembled


Until the rebuild kit comes I’ll wire brush the cast alloy parts and clean the stainless parts with a solvent, complete the TBD and then wait. I’ll post a part 3 follow up once it’s all back together and then hopefully I can take it out and demonstrate how it actually works. I was impressed by how well this thing has held up. It has obviously been used quite a bit and the grease is totally dried out and there is a lot of corrosion but it came apart without too much fuss and in just a couple of hours.


Aries Vane Gear

Aries steering vane

Westsails are made for offshore sailing and because an electric or hydraulic tiller draws amps to operate, many of the boats came with an Aries steering vane. This enables the boat to steer itself on a bearing that you decide and then maintain that course without needing any extra energy. The compromise is only the bulk and weight of the vane which I’m guessing adds another  70 – 80 pounds of weight to the stern of the boat and additional length. It’s essential equipment offshore because it’s very dependable steering. However, while sailing and harboring for local cruising it’s completely useless and in the way. This is mainly due to the additional length and bulk that it takes up while mounted and also because an electric tiller for daysailing is a much simpler, lighter and more compact self-steering mechanism. Nonetheless the vane will need overhauling to make it usable and fits nicely in a small mooring closet. I began disassembling it but unfortunately many of the parts are seized together or do not come apart very easily. I began finding every screw I could and pulled as many as I could yet nothing was coming apart aside from a few pulleys and the housing that protects the paws in the upper drum. The pawls look pretty old so at least I can start by finding replacements but I also need to be able to remove all of the gears and the center pole to get it operating smoothly again. I’ll need to consult someone who can offer advice on anti-seizing the pole sleeves from the poles as well as removing the machined pins that hold the inner geared mechanism together. I have plenty of time to get this project completed but I’m still going to try and get it working as good as it once did so I can use it when sailing offshore.

The original steering vane in dire need of an overhaul