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ZF/Mathers electronic controls

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by Boomer, Apr 2, 2018.

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  1. Boomer

    Boomer Senior Member

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    Anyone ever have a failure with these controls while underway? How do you override them in an emergency? We were coming into a channel yesterday and the port motor would not come to idle or shift into neutral...ended up shutting off the fuel to the motor to kill it...
  2. Fishtigua

    Fishtigua Senior Member

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    My Power Commander units were mostly rock solid for reliability. I had 3 sets, bridge, fly and aft-deck. The only issue I had was the aft-deck one that sometimes needed 2 prods of the red button to activate. Pretty good otherwise.

    Looks like you'll need to call your local 'tech to get it sorted.
  3. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    The newer design IS rock solid. The older models (before ZF) sucked.
    There is NO replacement board for the older designs. There is NO repair for the older boards.
    I don't think there is much for the newer boards.

    However, I have Frankenstein'd a few back to life to get home only.
    The power relay on board is usually the first failure. Follow the B+ etch back to it. If you can not get B+V from it, let me know.
    We may be able to make a Temporary patch to get you home.
    Plan on NEW boxes when you get home if you want to stay with a old product.
  4. Boomer

    Boomer Senior Member

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    Limped to a marina...replacing with cables...never again...have never been so scared in 45 years of boating
    ..God help us if we were in a lock or someplace crowded
  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Some of the Best logic I have read in a while.
    KISS>>>
    Morse is our friend..

    I remember a nice trawler that had the newer ZF electronic controls; Under the helm on a swing out panel were the back up cable controls. In the E R, just slip on the Morse cable ends and keep going.
  6. Boomer

    Boomer Senior Member

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    Going with seamaster controls and stainless cables...dont want to worry about this every again...

    KISS is the only way to go
  7. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    I performed a forensic deconstruction on a Mathers system in 1995 on a Vantare that T-boned a concrete dock in Dania, Florida. It had a similar failure that you describe; Stuck in gear at the last throttle setting used when working. I pulled every component and every inch of wire out of that yacht and discovered two things. One, the previous owner experienced problems and had a back-up power source rigged in (didn't work). And, Two: The fault was DC power loss as the result of the boat builder installed butt connector with a poor crimp under the starboard engine. It just pulled apart easily. Limp home or failure mode doesn't work without power. I ended up reinstalling the entire system with all the original components and continuous wires, except the Rube Goldberg back-up power. Never had any issues with it from Florida to San Diego and several Mexico trips in following years. Considering the number of vessels larger than the practical limits of cable controls that are out there operating every day, it would seem that electronic, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems are pretty dang reliable. Besides, the marine chandlers don't keep a wide stock of Morse cables on hand because they don't sell. Ultimately, any engine/gear control can fail. They just have different failure mechanisms.
    I once had to install an engine room/bridge communication system in a Japanese sail training ship because Japan required the ability to command an engineer to operate gears and throttles. Presumably if needed, since there was bridge controls.
  8. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I have worked on many of the original Mathers systems and failures.
    They sucked. Under rated micro power switches and relays were the normal failure.
    I have fixed a few with properly worded work orders (disclaimers).

    I will also offer; I have not dealt with any failures on the later ZF products. Whole new design.

    I will also reflect, My personal opinion for my self; Push/pull cables have the most reliable records. Nuf said?
  9. captainwjm

    captainwjm Senior member

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    When did the switch from “older” to “newer” design occur?
  10. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I'll have to hunt for a date. But rite after ZF purchased the company.
  11. Boomer

    Boomer Senior Member

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    Cables being installed as we speak
  12. jhall767

    jhall767 Senior Member

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    65' pilot house ran up on the rocks in Key west a month or two back. Reported to be control failure while docking.

  13. Boomer

    Boomer Senior Member

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    I can relate...we beached her in mud until fuel ran out