I started on my quest to install a Raymarine SPX10 core pack with a suitable drive for the boat. Having visited the boat show this looked fairly simple; just buy a complete pack including a linear drive and the jobs a good one.
If only life were that simple; it looked easy as the Oceanis 31 is fitted with a tiller arm pre fitted with a tiller pin to attach the drive to. However on measuring, not only was the arm longer than I expected but the tiller pin was 15mm in diameter. The Raymarine linear drive rod end bearing is 12mm in common with most hydraulic Rams. The length of the tiller arm also meant I would need a 12” stoke on the drive.
I checked with the Beneteau agent and it turned out that Beneteau fit a hydraulic ram that is a type 2 drive which would mean buying a type 2 core pack. This was not on, both on the grounds of cost and overkill on a small yacht. I looked at getting a rod end made, as you cannot easily buy a 15mm rod end, but it was all getting a bit complicated and would have meant buying the drive and then looking at modifying the rod end, I wasn’t prepared to do this in case I ended up with a “pig’s ear” of an installation.
I happened to come across an Octopus RS drive from a Canadian company that looked like it might fit the bill. I made contact with the European office and explained what I was looking for and Tim Bell in Spain sent photographs of the drive attachment and we concluded the standard fitting would not meet my needs. Tim at this point brought in Dave Shannon from Octopus Products in Canada who designed a custom fitting for the Beneteau tiller pin. From start of design to having it in my hand was only 3 weeks. It fitted perfectly.
See full details with photos below:
RS Sailboat Drive installed on a Beneteau Oceanis 31
Type RS Drive
EASY TO BUY - Everything you need supplied in one box - drive, 6ft steering cable and universal connection kit.
EASY TO FIT - The simple to mount installation kit and optional integrated rudder feedback make for easy fitting.
COMPACT - The remote drive unit has a tiny 0.25Ft2 footprint and can be mounted in the most convenient location on your boat, horizontally or vertically.
RELIABLE & SAFE - Proven, tested design. The drive unit features a manual override without having to disengage the autopilot first.
COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR PILOT - The Type R Remote Drive System is compatible with all major brand inboard autopilot systems.
Recommended for Yachts up to 38Ft (11.5m) with a maximum displacement of 15400 Ibs / 7000 Kg.
The Type RS Sailboat Drive makes it easy and economical to install an autopilot on light displacement sailboats with mechanical steering. The drive is very responsive and has little feedback resistance when in ‘Standby’ Pilot mode. The connection kit can be fitted into very small spaces, ideal for small to midsized modern sailboats which have limited space under the cockpit to fit drive units.