Hasler Vane Gears - Publication No. V1 January 1971
A Hasler Vane Steering Gear can open up a new dimension to your cruising. Steering your yacht on all points of sailing, it relieves you almost entirely of the effort of long periods at the helm.
Its value on an ocean crossing or a solo voyage is obvious.
However, for most yachtsmen coastal cruising or making offshore passages, the vane gear adds considerably to safety by enabling the watch keeper to keep a better lookout and make frequent visits to the chart table to navigate. You may also stay in the safety of the cockpit by using the simple remote control lines, for clutching in and out and for adjusting course.
Hasler Vane Gears have steered yachts successfully in winds too light to be detected by a person standing on deck and have also coped indefinitely with full gale conditions, including running under bare poles. During sail changes it maintains a good course, even though the sail plan maybe unbalanced. It is normally possible for the Vane Gear to steer under power if the yacht’s speed is less than the wind velocity.
Wind Vane Steering for yachts was first developed as a practical device for model yacht races in the early thirties. In 1939 the French Transatlantic yachtsman, Marin Marie, evolved and made a full size vane gear while crossing the Atlantic from West to East in the 45’ motor cruiser "Arielle". It was not until 1955 that effective vane gears appeared on full sized yachts – Ian Major’s "Buttercup" and Michael Henderson’s "Mick the Miller".
H.G. "Blondie" Hasler originated the Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Races and these gave a great boost to vane gear development.
He started developing vane gears in 1953 and has remained leader in this field ever since, gaining practical experience including four Atlantic crossings, single-handed in his radical junk rigged Folkboat "Jester". Each of these crossings is believed to have set a new record for boats of less than 35 feet overall, culminating in a passage of 33 1/2days from Newport, R.I. to the Solent in July 1964. Out of a total of 12000 miles "Jester" was steered by hand for less than 50 miles.
The now well known Trim Tab system was the first to be perfected incorporating a differential linkage to eliminate the over-steering tendency of earlier gears. In the first Single-handed Transatlantic Race in 1960, "Jester" was fitted with a prototype Trim Tab Gear and advanced experiments were carried out, mainly with wind vanes of different sizes..
The next milestone on the history of Vane Gears was Hasler’s invention of the Pendulum Servo system in 1961. For the first time it enabled yachts with counter sterns to be steered effectively in all conditions without needing complicated modifications to the rudder and rudder stock.
Subsequently, the winner of the 1968 Single-handed Transatlantic Race, the 57 foot ketch, "Sir Thomas Lipton" using a BP1 Hasler Gear, was steered manually for only 12 hours during her record breaking passage between Plymouth, England and Newport R.I. The next six yachts home were also steered by Hasler Gears with the exception of the Proa, "Cheers" (3rd) which had no vane gear at all.
Hasler Vane Gears have also been successfully used on a number of very long voyages including the great circumnavigations via Cape Horn, made by Bill Nance, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Alec Rose.
The first commercially produced Hasler Pendulum Servo Gear was sold in May 1962 and the first Trim Tab Gear in March 1963. By December 1970 over 600 gears had been supplied to yachts all over the world. Sizes range from the yacht (12’) "Nonoalca", sailed by Captain Verity from the USA to Ireland, to the 59’ ketch "British Steel" on an east to west circumnavigation. Also among the largest is the yacht "Islander"
which had already been sailed single-handed by the owner, Cmdr. Tom Blackwell from England to Australia via Panama.
How a Pendulum Servo Gear works
In this particular system a Servo Blade ‘S’ is hung vertically over the stern with its shaft passing though a Servo Frame ‘F’. It can be turned like a rudder by the Servo Tiller ‘A’. The servo frame also has fore and aft bearings ‘X’ and ‘Y’ which allow the whole assembly to swing from side to side like an athwartships pendulum.
Steering ropes ‘W’ are connected to the top of the Servo Frame and led through sheaves ‘C’ to the tiller.
Initially the vane is free to weathercock on its shaft for manual steering. If the vane turns when the latch is engaged, the servo blade also turns. The flow of water past the immersed blade forces it to swing sideways
‘D’ pulling the ropes, tiller and consequently the rudder, bringing the yacht back on course.
How a Trim Tab Gear works
When a Trim Tab Gear is at rest with the vane ‘V’ unlatched the Tab ‘T’ simply trails in the water flowing aft from the rudder ‘R’ (see inset drawing) without impeding manual steering.
As soon as the Latch ‘L’ is engaged and the tiller left free the vane gear will steer. If for instance the yacht veers off course to port, the vane will be turned in a clockwise direction to the wind. This movement is connected through to the tab which turns to port. The resulting servo power swings the yacht’s main rudder in the opposite direction bringing the yacht back on course. A differential linkage between the vane and tab overcomes the over steering troubles experienced with some other Trim Tab gears. The only Vane Gear in the Gibb range which works on this principle is the type TEB1.
Which gear will suit your boat ?
Individual yachts, even of the same class, can display very different steering characteristics, but provided your boat does not have any major steering faults the chart below can be used to select a suitable gear.
First look at the titles of Sections 1 to 3, and decide in which category you boat belongs. In the appropriate section make a mark against the overall length of your boat. If she seems to be between two categories adjust your mark accordingly. For example, if you think your 25 foot boat is somewhat lighter and easier to steer than a ‘normal’ 25 foot boat, you could mark in section 2, 23 feet instead of 25 feet.
Now draw a vertical line right down the chart for your mark. You may select any gear that the line crosses in Sections 4 to 6. If the line crosses the overlap zone of two gears in the same section, you have the choice of fitting the larger gear if you demand the best possible Vane Steering (e.g. for single-handed ocean passages), or the smaller gear if you accept the possibility of having to steer by hand when steering conditions are unusually difficult.
The choice between different types of installation will often be a matter of personal preference, but in our opinion:-
1. The Pendulum Servo turning a tiller (Section 4) is the most powerful and sensitive form of Vane Steering yet devised
2. If you have a steering wheel we would prefer you to unclutch it and turn an emergency tiller, rather than turn the wheel (Section 5) with a good deal of additional friction.
3. Trim Tab units (Section 6 ) are somewhat less powerful and sensitive than Pendulum Servo Gears but may look neater on some yachts with externally mounted rudders.
Type SP Small Pendulum Servo Gear
This unit is produced mainly in stainless steel, Tufnol and Bronze. Although small, neat and relatively cheap, it provides precisely the same powerful, sensitive and highly sophisticated steering action that has made Hasler Vane Gears the best in the world. It incorporates the full range of refinements as:
1. A worm adjusted latch gear coupled with full remote control from the cockpit.
2. Automatic tripping device which allows the servo blade to swing aft and clear itself should it hit any obstruction or pick up any floating weed. The blade can be instantly pulled forward again into its operating position by manually re-engaging the tripping lever. This system also facilitates removing and replacing the servo blade whilst underway.
3. The whole gear is light and portable and can quickly be shipped or unshipped either at sea or in harbour. If required it can be left ashore when the boat is racing. However, when the yacht is left on moorings, only the servo blade need be removed. It is also very easy to remove the wind vane with its shaft – the remaining assembly may then be hinged upwards in its base plates, to rest against the backstay or stern pulpit.
Supplied complete with all the special parts required, the gear can be fitted by anyone with normal handyman’s ability.
For yachts with Inboard Rudder Stocks (Fig 2SP) no modifications are normally necessary other than fastening down the two base plates with suitable bolts, providing correctly placed anchorages for the forward steering blocks, siting the remote control lines and fitting one eye plate to the tiller.
For Transom Sterned Yachts (Fig 3SP) it is normally only necessary in addition to fit timber stub bumkins to support the Vane Gear aft of the rudder head.
Multihulls. On catamarans the SP Unit may be mounted on the after end of the bridge deck, and on trimarans on the main hull.
Type SP Gear
The Standard Type 17 Vane will suit most yachts and is supplied with the gear unless otherwise ordered. It is mounted right aft on the centerline of the gear and will normally swing clear of all obstructions on the yacht’s stern. If necessary its lower, outer edge maybe cut away (as shown in Fig 2SP) to avoid the upper rail of the existing pulpit.
The Type 18 Low Aspect Ratio Vane (shown dotted figure 2SP) can be supplied to suit yachts whose mizzen mast booms overhang the stern far enough to foul the standard vane.
Major obstructions such as a backstay bumpkin may require modification to accept the SP unit. A rudder blade projecting well beyond the yacht’s stern may foul the servo blade such as on trimarans with a reverse transom and an external rudder. In either case, if modifications cannot be made and if the vane cannot be safely mounted far enough aft to clear, fit a Type TEB1 Trim Tab Gear instead.
The standard SP Unit with a Type 17 Vane, 1.21m (48") servo blade and two 3.04m (10’) steering ropes, complete with instructions for fitting and use.
Cat No. 900SP (as shown in Fig 1SP). This is the minimum set that every yacht under 8m (26’) overall length will require. The steering ropes are for yachts where the tiller is near deck level and they can be connected at 254mm (10") from the rudder axis.
Alternative Extras May Be Necessary to complete the installation on your boat as follows: Type 18 Low Aspect Ratio Vane Set, Cat No. 900SP/18. This can be supplied as an alternative to the Type 17 Vane in the standard set without extra charge, but please state this clearly.
Low Level Tiller 1:2 Purchase Kit, Cat No.899SP Comprising: 6m (20ft) of rope and 2 special blocks, for yachts which have tiller rising from the cockpit sole where the steering ropes can only be conveniently connected at 508mm (20") from the rudder axis (Fig 4 SP).
Wheel Steering 1:4 Purchase Kit, Cat No.898SP Comprising: 9m (30ft) of rope, four special blocks, one drum spindle and clamp nut device and instructions for making up a wheel drum. For yachts with free-running and fully self centering wheel steering, where it is decided to turn a drum fixed to a wheel (Fig 5SP). NB In most cases better steering can be obtained by disconnecting the wheel linkage near the rudder stock and connecting the steering ropes to an auxiliary tiller as shown in Figure 2SP.
High Vane Assembly Modification Kit, Cat No 897SP Comprising: An extra upper vane shaft bearing carried by a tubular stainless steel support and a 406mm (16") vane shaft extension. For the SP Gear to work efficiently, the airflow reaching the vane must not be interfered with by the yacht’s structure or dodgers. Any structural surface may act as an obstruction if it is to leeward of the vane. Most yachts will not however, need this modification kit. As it is easily fitted at a later stage, owners usually fit the standard vane gear initially and establish by practical trial whther the vane is obstructed. If there is an obstruction that you cannot or do not wish to remove, this assembly will raise the vane by 406mm (16") which will be sufficient to ensure clear airflow.
Transom Brackets Kit, Cat No. 896SP Comprising: Two brackets complete with bolts for attaching the standard base plates of the SP Gear to them, to enable the gear to be mounted on the forward or after face of the transom. They are particularly desirable for yachts with inboard rudder stocks where the cockpit extends right aft to the transom and there is no after deck on which to bolt the standard horizontal base plates as shown.
Type MP Gear
This unit is produced mainly in stainless steel, manganese bronze and Tufnol. A powerful, sensitive and highly sophisticated steering action that has made Hasler Vane Gears the finest in the world. It incorporates the full range of refinements such as: Worm Adjusted Latch Gear coupled with full remote control from the cockpit. Also, Adjustable Hydro-dynamic balance of the servo blade, which can be altered underway.
The whole gear is light and portable – it can quickly be shipped or unshipped either at sea or in harbour and can, if required, be left ashore when the boat is racing. However, when the yacht is left on moorings, only the servo blade need be removed. It is also very easy to remove the wind vane with its shaft, and the remaining assembly may then be hinged upwards in its base plates, to rest against the backstay or stern pulpit.
Supplied complete with all special parts required the gear can be fitted by anyone with a normal handyman’s ability.
Also fitted is an Automatic Tripping Device which will allow the servo blade to swing aft and clear itself should it hit an obstruction or pick up heavy floating weed. The blade can then instantly be pulled forward again into its operating position by manually re-engaging the tripping lever. This system also facilitates removing and replacing the servo blade whilst underway.
For yachts with inboard Rudder Stocks (Fig 1MP) no modifications are normally necessary other than fastening down the two base plates with suitable bolts, providing correctly positioned anchorages for the forward steering blocks, siting the remote control lines and fitting one plate to the tiller.
For Transom Sterned Yachts (Fig 2MP) it is normally only necessary in addition, to fit timber stub bumkins to support the vane gear aft of the rudder head.
Multihulls – On catamarans the MP unit may be mounted on the after end of the bridge deck and on trimarans on the main hull.
The Standard Type 20 Vane will suit most yachts and is supplied with the gear unless otherwise ordered. It is mounted right aft on the centre-line of the gear and will normally swing clear of any obstructions on the yacht’s stern. If necessary its lower, outer edge maybe cut away Fig 1 MP) to avoid the upper rail of the exisiting pulpit.
The Type 21 Low Aspect Ratio Vane (Shown dotted on Fig 1 MP) can be supplied to suit yachts whose mizzen booms overhang the stern far enough to foul the standard vane.
Major Obstructions such as a backstay bumkin may require modification to accept the MP unit. A rudder blade projecting well beyond the yacht’s stern may foul the servo blade, such as on trimaran with a reverse transom and an external rudder. In either case, if modifications cannot be made and if the vane cannot be safely mounted far enough aft to clear, fit a Type TEB1 Trim Tab Gear instead.
The standard MP Unit with a Type 20 Vane, 1778mm (70") servo blade and two 6m (20ft) steering ropes, complete with instructions for fitting and use, is Cat No. 860MP as shown in Figure 1MP. This is the minimum set that any yacht will require. The steering ropes should be connected to the tiller at 508mm (20") from the rudder axis.
Alternative Extras May Be Necessary to complete the installation on your boat as follows:
Type 21 Low Aspect Ratio Vane Set, Ca No. 860 MP/21. This can be supplied as an alternative to the Type 20 vane in the standard set without extra charge, but must be specified clearly.
Wheel Steering 1:2 Purchase Kit, Cat No.859MP Comprising: 9m (30ft) of rope, two special blocks, one drum spindle and clamp nut device and instructions for making up a wheel drum. For yachts with free-running and fully self centering wheel steering, where it is decided to turn a drum fixed to the wheel (Fig 3MP). NB In most cases better steering can be obtained by disconnecting the wheel linkage near the rudder stock and connecting the auxiliary tiller as in Fig 1MP.
The information contained in this section will enable most owners to consider an installation, establish their requirements and place an order form provided. If you wish to plan an installation in more detail before you obtain the equipment, further instructions are available upon request, Reference V2MP.
Type BP Gear
The main assemblies of the gear are in stainless steel, manganese bronze and Tufnol.
It has worm adjusted latch gear with remote control lines to the cockpit.
The Servo Blade can easily be adjusted for optimum hydro-dynamic balance at various speeds and the same device will allow the server blade to swing aft to prevent damage if it is struck by any heavy floating obstruction.
The main servo assembly carrying the servo blade can if necessary, be hinged up clear of the water when not in use and be removed or replaced at sea or in harbour.
It is normally necessary for a specialist to plan the best installation of the BP Gear to suit individual yachts, since there are several possible layouts of the equipment. You can obtain a quotation for the equipment, plus a brief schedule of the work involved in fitting the gear if you send hull and sail plans of your boat, plus recent photographs if possible, to a Hasler Vane Gear Stockist.
Type TEB1 Gear
The TEB1 Trim Tab Gear is for yachts with externally mounted rudders.
The scale drawing diagram shows a typical installation on a transom sterned yacht. There are alternative layouts to accommodate various yacht designs such as those with Norwegian sterns, projecting booms or a back stay bumkin.
The TEB1 gear is constructed in stainless steel, manganese bronze and Tufnol.
The tabshaft unit is supplied tailored to length and is located in gudgeons (a) on the rudder. A trunk (b) protects it above the waterline also enabling the whole unit to be unshipped or replaced while the yacht is afloat.
A vane shaft and latch gear unit (c) is normally sited about 12" to port or starboard of the rudder head and remote control lines (d) lead from it to the cockpit.
If you are reasonably competent with tools you can install the gear yourself, but most owners emply a boatyard or yacht builder to do the following work.
1. Modify the rudder and fit the tab shaft unit and its gudgeons
2. Fit a suitable timber stub bumkin (e) at deck level and brackets (f) on the pushpit to support the vane shaft and latch gear unit. If there is no pushpit a separate support structure maybe needed.
3. Make up the vane (g) and tab blade (h) to the drawings supplied.
The standard TEB1 Unit, Cat No.958 is supplied with a gravity latch gear which can be used to set a course at ten degree intervals i.e. not more than five degrees off any particular heading.
An alternative set, Cat No.958/1010 can be supplied with a worm adjusted latch gear in place of the gravity latch. The worm latch can be used to adjust course to very fine limits and can also make alterations including tacking under vane control.
If you fit a gravity latch unit initially, you can subsequently change to a worm latch gear, using a conversion kit. Cat No.1010CK.
You now need to obtain the literature "How to Order aand Fit A Type TEB 1 Trim Tab Gear", reference V3T (see order from provided). This gives instructions for planning the installation, determining certain dimensions.