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Weekly Update - Commissioning Steering and Other Bits

Naval Yachts launched Vanguard before commissioning the steering as she needed to be in the water. Initial sea trials have shown a sub-optimum performance until the vendor, Wills Ridley, and their local agent, Navantach, arrived to complete the job. Every vessel will experience this stage; shipyards are good at their specialty but not expected to be experts in every aspect. The following illustrates the process one can hope to see and typical small errors that cause initial concern but are, in actuality, a simple fix. It is a time for cool heads and knowledgeable vendors. 

All the little steering fixes

First of all, a quick recap of the steering; further information is given in the attached Blog HERE. A complicated steering system is an oxymoron, like military intelligence, two contradictory concepts (or so they say!). Look closer; practically, it's three separate systems linked to the same rudders.  

  1. a manual emergency helm

  2. a powered, vendor-supplied system from Wills Ridley

  3. a powered system for Autopilot and Dynamic Positioning supplied by Praxis Automation

These systems drive two independent rudders, each at over 100% of the required area in total. So, we have triple redundancy on the steering actuators and double redundancy on the rudders. 

They were starting with the manual helm function. One of the rudders had a reversed hydraulic supply pipe (P/S), causing the Stbd rudder to counter the demand signal. A quick swap and clean-up of spilled oil, then all was good.  

The Wills Ridley steering controls were recalibrated from the factory setting to more accurately set the midships' position on both rudders and ensure a full 35-deg sweep in both Port and Stbd direction. This is the limit of movement before encountering the limit stops. These stops were also adjusted to slightly over 35 degrees of rudder swing.

The tiller arms were fitted with transponders to deliver rudder position signals directly to the Will Ridley system. Additionally, a CAN converter / Gateway took the second duplicated signal channel and converted it to Ethernet as input to the Praxis Autopilot and DP systems. The power supply to this Gateway was reversed (+/-), resulting in no signal. Once fixed, we can operate the steering correctly in all three modes without further issues. 

Wills Ridley then recalibrated both helm-mounted rudder angle indicators. Satisfied that everything was working correctly, they released the system for sea trials. All of the above are one-off. Once fixed, they stay fixed. 

I would say here that it is always reassuring when the Director of a supplier attends commissioning. It says something about commitment to their product. I really like Wills Ridley and am happy with that choice.

Their website can be found HERE

JD engines and Praxis Hybrid Drives are spun up.

We also had the opportunity to run both engines up to full speed, 2400 RPM. We tested both the engine and the clutch/hybrid drive connections. The Praxis Hybrid drives run at 1.4 times shaft speed, so we were concerned about vibration on those large 30kW DC motors. See the enclosed video; all was good.  

The one major remaining issue is an annoying vibration on both shafts above about 1900/2000 RPM engine speed. Finding the cause has been a process of elimination; so far, we know what it's not but still need to figure out what is causing it. Bruntons will attend the yard on Monday to look at propeller performance, and we have scheduled a haul out to examine further. 


Video sent through after the trial shows our Magnus Master stabilizers are deployed. I'll save the results for a later Blog, especially as we need something other than calm water to test them in anger.


Finally, casting off from Antalya is so close we can almost smell it so near after so much work from all parties. As in all things, the next one will be far easier to construct! 

Chris Leigh-Jones

On the subject of completion, we may finish our shoreside project in time for a return to Turkey. Enclosed are some updated photos of progress so far. RC gear is fitted internally. Sails already made and rolled up.

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