Simrad autopilot mounting

I recently got a question about mounting my TP32 autopilot on sea puppy and here is my reply to it.

He had asked about the width and slant on the shim I made to get the cantilever arm horizontal when mounted.

I can certainly do that for you if you want but mine is not quite perfect. I can tell you that the widest is between 3/4 and 1 inch thick.. probably closer to 1″ and the thinest is 0″ inches. I will measure it Friday when I get back to the boat and can send it to you the beginning of the week when I’m back off the water. :)

I sanded it down to a wedge and it was slightly rotated. Here are a couple pictures that you can see close up on it.

I used Starboard and cut out circular plugs 6 or 4 inches in diameter using a hole saw attachment in a drill press. A jig saw could do as well. It is tough stuff to drill the plugs out of. Take the mount base for the cantilever arm and just make sure you get the plug bigger than it.

I remember that its thickness wasn’t quite enough to get the correct slope for the arm to be horizontal till I started rotating the plug. mine is still just slightly off but it doesn’t affect performance. I used a belt sander at the dock to do this. I would work it a little and then check the fit on the boat. then go back and do it again. The belt sander was really easy to use. I just turned it upside down on the dock and held the piece to it. I had made 4 plugs and ended up throwing the first one away when I took off to much material.

I would advise not drilling any holes till you have the shim/plug made and have held everything in place to ensure levelness from the cantilever mount to the under tiller mount. The cantilever mount base has to be oriented/rotated exactly so that when you screw in the cantilever arm the holes that the tiller pilot mount in are oriented straight up with the arm fully screwed into the base.

Once you get the shim right, then with the arm in the base take and use the holes in the base as your drill guides to drill the holes in the base. I marked the holes with a pencil and then took the arm off. Then used a pair of vise grips to put the base back on the shim where it was marked and then drilled the holes. After that you do the same thing using the base and the shim/plug to act as a guide to drill thought the seat back there. The drilling I found to be the most critical part as you are trying to drill in place through a slanting surface (The shim and the cockpit wall). I would advise once you have drilled the holes in the shim that you double check the fore and aft and up and down alignment of the cantilever arm with the tiller pilot in place. This will allow you to see if you are truly aligned between the cockpit wall and the attachment point on the tiller. Once you start drilling in the boat your options become much more limited :). I also would advise drilling one hole in the boat and then bolting it in place and checking alignment at this point. You can still make a new shim at this point if stuff isn’t lined up right and try again. The cockpit wall slopes in two different directions. It slopes to starboard and aft and it slopes in to the center of the boat from above.

Once I had all holes drilled and was ready to mount it, I took and drew a pencil line around the cantilever base onto the starboard. Then freehand on the belt sander, I sanded down the excess material around the edges to make it look like a smoother transition between the mount base and the shim.

Unless you build two shims (one for inside of the cockpit locker) your nuts and washers on the backsides of the bolts will pull into the back of the seat inside the cockpit locker at an angle. I didn’t use a second shim just some big stainless washers on the back side and tightened the hell out of it. It has worked well and I have not had any give in the arrangement. It is very solid. I also didn’t use the bolts shipped with the mount but went and bought some longer stainless ones with locknut’s so I didn’t need to mess with lock washers. I don’t think the stock bolts were long enough through the thickest side of the shim if I remember correctly. I used a wrench to tighten the nuts from the backside while using a screwdriver to hold the bolts steady from the cockpit. As you can see in some of my pictures I tried using the screwdriver to tighten them at first and started to strip out the heads. I would only tighten from the nut side if doing it again.

[quote=”jhume”]Thanks Scott for the big reply to my autopilot installation. I appreciate the detail. You’ve made some worthwhile points in your writeup that I will use in putting my system together. I think I’ll make a practise plug first to rough set the whole thing together, including holes. I’ve got a plank of teak about 1 1/4″ thick that I’m going to use for the final plug material, which I think is going to look really good when finished. Perhaps the extra thickness may actually provide a very level installation for the autopilot.

It sounds from your write up that a wedge ~1 1/4″ at the thickest and ~0″ at the thinnest will give me a good mount. Then I would just have to rotate to get right compound angle adjustment. I think this will be my starting point for a practise plug and see where I get with that.

I’ll keep you informed with my process. Unfortunately, I don’t have power at the dock, so the process my be a little tedious back and forth.

Thanks again.


that extra 1/4 inch should make it a lot easier for you.. It gives you little extra fudge room.

Having power at the dock is/was awesome for getting it done quickly.. if you can grab a small 1000 watt generator from someone it would be worth while for doing the custom trial and error install.

forgot to mention.. make sure you can use the manual bilge pump with the autopilot in place. Mine is just between the seat and bilge pump. sitting on the seat beside the autopilot your left hand can fall over the aft side of the autopilot and reach and pump the bilge pump handle.

here you can see the mount up and to the left of the bilge handle.

side view

overhead view

4 comments to Simrad autopilot mounting

  • Jack Sammon Windows XP Mozilla Firefox

    I have an older model autopilot, SIMRAD AP3000X, when I activate the unit it always turns to the right and then gives me a message “acutator failure” can you give me some pointers on how to check this out and how I go about repairing it.

  • I would give simrad a call. It sounds like a hardware failure issue. They have been real helpful in the past when I had a question about mine.

  • Pawel Bartys POLAND Windows XP Internet Explorer 6.0

    Could you tell me how it works
    You use this in bigger wawe,on longer distans ?
    I’ve 28 feet boat and I’dlike to buy sp32 you think is it good idea?
    thanks a lot for reply
    with Best regards

  • Pawel,

    I have enjoyed my tp32 a lot. Its rated up to I think a 13000 lb boat or there abouts. I think it would work well for you depending on your boat. It is easy to install and offers a lot of options with the gps integration and sail to wind features if you have those instrements on your boat.

    The longest journey I have made with it is about 30 NM in 25 knots of wind and 4 to 5 ft seas.. It handled that fine no problems. You just have to watch your sail trim to make sure you don’t have to much weather helm.


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