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Thread: "Simrad TP32 Tiller Pilot Positioning"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Simrad TP32 Tiller Pilot Positioning

Michael Dougan

Hi Bud, I read your recomendations below regarding where to mount the outboard end of the tiller pilot... in my instructions, they require a 90 degree angle between the tiller in the center position and the arm of the tiller pilot... to mount it on the cap rail just before it curves down would put the tiller pin pretty near the end of my tiller.... and though I haven't measured it, it seems further from the recommended distance in the instructions...

In the installations you're familiar with, has the body of the tiller pilot angled back to the tiller in anything other than the 90 degree angle, and if so, did that affect performance at all?

Since my boat doesn't have the typical boom gallows that mount on the cap rail, I'm wondering if I can mount something on my stern pulpit to receive the pin on the outboard end of the tiller pilot.

Sannyasin's Stern Pulpit

Related question, do you know of anyone who's connected the Simrad tiller pilot to a Garmin GPS Map (76S I think) handheld GPS unit? I believe that the Garmin is NMEA conversant but don't know if it takes some custom wiring to get them to talk. Any ideas? Don't know how often I'd use Nav mode, but would like the option.

Bud Taplin

Mounting the tiller pilot on top of the rise of the caprail, and adding a 5.9" extension to the end of the rod does permit the pilot to be at right angles to the tiller. This location is correct because they assume a vertical rudder, and yours is angled back. If you measure the distance from the rudder at the waterline to this location, you should find it meets their recommended dimension.

For your installation, you need to make sure you clear the stern sampson posts.

I do not know if you can make the NMEA connection. Check with Simrad and Garmin.

Michael Dougan

Thanks! I would have mounted the tiller pin in the wrong place for sure... so, then, would it be simply a matter of drawing the right angle to the tiller from that spot on the caprail and drilling the pin hole there? (since it sounds like it would be a pain to measure from the rudder at the waterline lol....)

When you say "clear the stern sampson posts", are you concerned about the tiller pilot arm clearning or the tiller itself clearing?

The tiller, when no one is holding it, doesn't clear the sampson posts... to do that, I'd have to shim the tiller handle up, which I could do if necessary. When using the windvane, it never needed to move the tiller any further than the sampson posts, so, I was figuring the same for the tiller pilot...

Jeff Holemo

Look at the wiring in your manuals for your GPS and autopilot. The NMEA bus requires only data in, data out, and common. If you are powering both units off the boats 12 volt system then your common is already taken care of. Two wires ought to do it.

Michael Dougan

Thanks Jeff... it might even be simpler than that... I think that I just need the data out from the GPS going to the data in on the tiller pilot (the tiller pilot only has one NMEA wire plus the common wire)...

I think, since I have to run the power wires up to the engine room bulkhead anyway, I'm going to run the NMEA wire there as well, and then if I can figure out the standard wiring for a computer serial port plug, I'll wire one of those into the bulkhead... that way, I can use the standard Garmin combination power/serial plug, and be able to plug or unplug as I wish...

Jeff Holemo

the serial port is either a 9 pin (DB9) connector or a 25 pin (DB25) connector. it uses the RS232 standard. just type rs232 into your search engine..I prefer google..and it should take you to numerous sites showing the pin outs of these connectors.

Bud Taplin


If your tiller does not clear over the stern sampson posts, then I would either cut down the posts, or shim the tiller. In the event of an emergency, you don't want to limit the tiller movement.

Rich Morpurgo

the tillerpilot will not move further than your sampson posts. The simrad travel is only about 5-6" in either direction.

Michael Dougan

Yea, that's what's got me a little nervous about Bud's installation recommendation... the further forward on the tiller the attachment is mounted, the less tiller movement that 5-6" will affect.

Maybe the ideal spot to mount will be where the tiller just reaches the sampson posts on the limit of the tiller pilot arm's travel.

Rich Morpurgo

We mounted ours on the curve of the caprail. It is fine. It doesn't move as far as you would expect to stay on course.



The tillerpilot should be mounted at right angles to the tiller. Re-read my previous post, as I felt I fully explained the procedure, including adding the 5.9" extension required.

Michael Dougan

Hi Bud, before I drill permanent holes in my teak I really want to have a good understanding of what the various placements are actually going to do for me.

I did read your initial post carefully, and have faith that you've seen several installations where this has worked successfully.

But, when I go out with my tape measure and try to measure things out, that position does not appear to work given the angles involved.

The 5.9" extension will allow the tiller pilot arm to reach the centerline from where you are describing mounting it, however, the limiting factor is that the arm can only expand or contract by 5". So, the further out on the tiller you mount the attachment point, keeping the tiller pilot arm at 90 degrees to the tiller, the less the angle that the tiller is going to travel from one stop to the other.

The instructions suggest mounting the tiller arm at only 18" from the rudder post. You'd suggested that because the rudder is angled itself, you can go much further out on the tiller than the instructions recommend...

But, looking at the 10 inch travel distance of the tiller pilot arm, mounting the attachment point at 18" from the rudder post is going to allow the tiller to swing a 32 degree arc. This is actually a wider arc than my sampson posts allow.

Going out to 36", the tiller can swing a 16 degree arc (well within the sampson posts).

Going out to 54", which is about where the tiller pilot would attach in the configuration you suggested, there would only be a 10 degree swing of the tiller, and while this might be enough to keep the boat on course, maybe, it certainly would never tack the boat.

I'm thinking that at about 24" out from the rudder post, this will give me about 24 degrees of swing in the tiller, just inside the limits of the sampson posts... and from experience I know that this is enough to tack the boat (though, if I'm in a hurry, I need to put it hard over to the stern pulpit).

24" out from the rudder post puts it a bit behind the lazerette hatch cover, and even a bit aft of the curve of the caprail. So, I don't think I can even use the curve of the caprail as a mounting surface.

I could... I've heard from some people who have, successfully, it just doesn't sound like I'll get the travel on the tiller arm that I'm expecting if I go that far out. Am I missing something here?

Thanks again for your input, I could never even know where to start without your valuable advice.


Bud Taplin


I do not advise using a tillerpilot for anything more than keeping a boat on course, and making small course changes. If you try to use the tillerpilot to tack, or make extreme course changes, you will soon find the pilot worn out, overheated, and with other possible failures. If you want to make a sudden course change, or tack, just release the pilot, make the change, then connect the pilot again. Don't ask the pilot to do something it is not capable of easily doing.

Rich Morpurgo

I second bud's remarks. Our's will tack the boat in the right conditions, but sometimes the boat will end up in irons. Very easy to release the tiller, put her over hard, then connect the pilot again and tend the sheets.

just from our experiences...


SV Jasmine

Michael Dougan

Thanks all...point taken.

However, a large part of why I bought the TP in the first place was to assist when single-handing... the thought being that I might be up at the mast with the remote, trying to drop the main, and need to round up into the wind, and while I might not use it to actually tack, having that much movement of the tiller could be necessary.

Since it has been designed to have this capability (there are tack buttons on the thing even), I'd hate the installation to be the limiting factor :-)

I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Bud Taplin

Michael, you won't know how it turns out until you overheat the autopilot motor and it burns out. Since the rudder on a W32 is so large, there should be no problem in making small course changes to bring the boat up into the wind.

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