Yesterday, a good friend brought to my attention a job posting where the owners of a beautiful sailing yacht were looking for a couple to take care of it. When I pointed out to him that the listing mentioned “experienced mechanic” as a requirement, he commented that I knew “enough to be dangerous.” I laughed at that adjective but think that it’s probably fairly accurate.
Not happy with our auto pilot’s performance on our last passage, or lack of performance to be more accurate, I took it upon myself to try to fix it yesterday. As I worked to disassemble the unit, I first likened the process to a surgeon performing exploratory surgery. When I got further into it though, I realized that it was more like a coroner conducting a post-mortem exam on some alien that had crash landed on Earth, that being because I had no idea what I was going to find inside the unit, having never taken one apart before.
As it turns out, the mechanical portion of the alien, I mean wheel unit, is pretty simple. Inside it there is a belt driven by a gear which, when a clutch is locked down, will turn the wheel. I had hoped to see something obvious that would indicate the problem but that was not to be. I can only guess that, even though the belt is still in one piece, the teeth on it are worn enough that, under pressure, they are slipping around the gear. Working on that assumption, I placed an order for 2 belts yesterday (one to put in and another spare) and am having them shipped to California where we can pick them up next month. We still have a lot of miles to cover between now and then so hopefully we can find some really settled weather to travel in that won’t make Wheeler, the auto pilot, stress too much.