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Blue Gum's Self Steering Gear - updated December 24, 2016  

October 15, 2016. We got the following report from Alan Mountford about the self steering gear (known as 'George") on his Falcon 24, Blue Gum. Click here to go to Blue Gum's page.

Hi Ron,

Here are several pics of Blue Gum on the hard in preparation for my son Dave and family to take her cruising.

The self steering gear was designed by Bill Belcher who years ago was wrecked on Middleton Reef during a Trans-Tasman yacht race from New Plymouth to Moolooba. Well known Kiwi in yachting circles in NZ. I bought the gear second hand years ago.


The vane rotating mechanism was way overbuilt and I modified it to make it a lot lighter. Also the vane axis was horizontal originally and modified it to an inclined axis vane of 20 degrees as all modern self steering systems are. While a horizontal vane works OK – it does have an issue of over steering the boat when running before the wind. With the 20 degree inclination of the vane axis it will steer a good course downwind.

Blue Gum is now back in the water and temporarily based in Manly Marina in Brisbane before they take off cruising. Dave, his family and I have done a number of sails to get them familiar with everything and also test out the self steering gear.

I have to say I am thrilled with the performance of "George". On all points of sail it steers a very good course. Even of a dead run which is the most difficult point of sail for a self steering gear to cope with, our heading didn't vary more than about 10 degrees either side of our track made good in 10 to 15 knots of breeze and ¾ to 1 metre seas on Moreton Bay.


December 24, 2016. Alan's son Dave and his family is on Blue Gum on a cruise up the coast of Queensland and has a problem with her self steering gear. Here is Alan's report on the current status (minor edit)

They have been having problems with the self steering gear of late, and it has now stopped working completely. They were having problems keeping the wind vane mounting locked to the shaft it pivots on. A final tightening attempt has split this aluminium casting making it impossible now to use it.

I have bought some aluminium round and flat bar to make a new vane mounting piece – but won't be able to get that completed until near end of January, since many businesses like welders and anodisers are now closed for holidays until at least mid January.

When the vane was working properly Dave said the self steering performed brilliantly.

Stay tuned






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