hydraulic pump

How to Select a Pump for Use with an Autopilot

Many people choose to use an autopilot on their boat to relieve them from having to constantly man the wheel on long journeys and to reduce the cost of fuel as autopilots can maintain a very straight and direct route. When trying to captain your craft, an autopilot could make your life much more simple.

For an autopilot to navigate your boat effectively, it needs to be able to work seamlessly with your steering system. Autopilots have three main parts: the heading sensor (for navigation), the course computer and the drive unit which is the part that applies force to the rudder.

When looking to fit an autopilot to your boat, you have a few options depending on your existing hand steering which is usually by cable or hydraulics. In the case of cables, a steering cylinder and pump are ‘piggy-backed’ over the existing steering.

steering cylinder and pump for autopilot

For hydraulics, the pump is ‘teed’ into the existing circuit.

hydraulic pump for autopilot

In both cases, the course computer drives the pump to achieve steering.

How to choose a pump for your autopilot:

When choosing the correct pump for your craft, you need to know the volume of the steering cylinder fitted to the boat. This is determined by the type of boat, its dimensions and displacement.

The size of the pump directly influences the ability to steer the craft. If the pump is too small, it will struggle to maintain a course. Too large, it can cause the boat to over steer and use excessive power.

The manufacturers recommendations are the first place to start when selecting your pump. Then, by referring to the guide, we can select the most suitable pump to provide the necessary hard-over-time based on the cylinder volume and type of boat.

Our range of pumps have flow outputs that have been designed to match the volumes of most known manufacturers steering cylinders. We also keep lists of these so can easily select the correct pump if the customer knows the cylinder.

To see more information about autopilot drive selection, click here to read our guide .