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Russell H.
Russell H., Service Tech
Category: Marine Electronics
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Experience:  8+ years of professional experience
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I have a Raymarine St6001 on a 2002 42-ft Beneteau. We are

Customer Question

I have a Raymarine St6001 on a 2002 42-ft Beneteau. We are on extended coastal cruise, and recently the autopilot has begun displaying 'Current Limit' and disengaging, usually during moderate seas and winds of 15-20 kts. I have verified that there is no binding or jamming of the rudder. It turns freely. I have also checked all the 12V connections for corrosion or other problems.
My hunch now is that there may be air in the hydraulic system. Could this cause the over current problem as the system tries but is unable to make the course correction? I suspect air because three months ago I removed and cleaned the fluid reservoir. It was empty, much to my surprise, as it had developed a leak. I tried to drain the connecting tube of the topmost oil, which I thought might be contaminated, and then reattached the repaired reservoir and filled to fluid.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Marine Electronics
Expert:  Russell H. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thank you for contacting My name is Russell. I will do my best to provide the right answer to your question.
If there were air in the lines, the lines might have to be purged to get rid of it... a messy process not exactly suited for the conditions of a cruise.
I think the system is indeed disengaging because of the overload on it that making its way through considerable resistance from a moderate or high sea and a fairly good wind. But if the lines had air in them too, that might have made it worse, and overheated windings that now conduct too much, and induce excessive current draw under a reasonable load.
CURRENT LIMIT, as listed in documentation, means a serious drive failure. Whether it is in the Autoplilot, or in the drive motor, is hard for me to say from here. But a little looking through documentation says that it usually means a shorted drive motor, rather as I had supposed above, before researching it.
I'm sorry to bring bad news, but your drive motor may be failing. As for why, I've already presented some guesses.
Of course your cruise can continue... provided you are willing to be at the helm while underway. Like an old-time sailing ship, if the drive motor fails, there will have to be a helmsman. (Or helmwoman, perhaps.)
It's not a safety issue so far, aside from the inconvenience of having to man the helm if it gets worse... so I would advise you, to avoid its getting any worse, to only use the autopilot under easy sailing conditions and pleasant weather, since it still seems to handle that sort of conditions OK... and yes, some cases of 'CURRENT LIMIT' do show up even in very easy conditions, so it's not the worst it could be by any means... yet.
If this completes the case as far as you are concerned, please rate my Answer - or Reply indicating what rating you would wish to have applied to my work on your question. Thanks - and, good luck with it.

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