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Braine Gear self steering

I'm looking for advice on how to put in a simple brain gear on my sailboat.

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Samuel Crowe09/11/2017 02:23:35
8 forum posts
12 photos

Hi model sailors,

I'm building a sized-down Star45 sailboat and I'm going to put in a Braine Gear steering system on it. Does anyone have any advice? Is there a simple way to make one. I'll also have to fit it around all the deck decor. This boat has two sails, a main and a jib, I'm hoping both will be attached to the steering system. My apologies for the upside-down photo.

Sincerly, Samuel C.

Edited By Samuel Crowe on 09/11/2017 02:25:43

Ray Wood 209/11/2017 09:36:26
2838 forum posts
988 photos

Hi Samuel

As I understand Braine steering, it only controls the rudder with no connection to the sails, once the vane is set up it will hold a constant course relative to the wind direction. Radio's more fun

Regards Ray

Charles Oates09/11/2017 10:03:06
663 forum posts
52 photos

Hi Sam, although sails aren't my thing, I've sailed with plenty of people for whom it was. I confirm that Brain gear generally was operated from the main sail, I think that Ray is thinking of vane gear, a different thing. My memories of the mechanism are too vague to be helpful, but google may be your friend here, with plenty of images to look at.


Bob Abell09/11/2017 10:19:39
9337 forum posts
2985 photos

Hi Sam

I think your best bet would be to PM Gareth Jones.........Gareth and Elizabeth live and breathe Pond Yachts


Malcolm Frary09/11/2017 10:49:17
1043 forum posts

For heading cross or up wind, its just the pressure on the main that does the work. The jib just provides balance and extra drive, so trying to incorporate both sails is adding complication that is not needed. Two lines from the mains boom to the deck edge fairleads, they then cross over on their way to the outer ends of the cross piece of the T shaped tiller arm. The leg of the T is tensioned usually by an elastic to a point somewhere forward on the deck.

If the boat sails further off wind (say to port), the increased pressure on the main causes it to try to move that way, the force is transmitted through the line to the tiller arm and moves the rudder to counteract the turn. As the boat turns toward the wind, equilibrium is restored and the rudder under the influence of the spring, returns to "straight". The crossover is the important bit that makes it work. In use, they always have to be biased for the leg being run - if they deviate too far there is a tendency to gybe round and re-settle to the original course. Part of the learning curve associated with the Braine system.

Vane steering, a different and later system, is the one that doesn't connect to the sails. It uses an airflow direction sensor (the vane) coupled to the rudder, usually involving a gear to achieve the cross over that the system invented by Mr Braine uses to get the logic to right way round.

If using what I assume is the existing tiller arm, extra deck points will be needed to redirect the pull with the arm sited to look like a "real" tiller, i.e., fore-and-aft with the control lines pulling sideways. Braine equipped boats usually have a T shaped tiller arm which sort of simplifies the line layout.

Ray Wood 209/11/2017 12:57:54
2838 forum posts
988 photos

Hi Samuel/Charles

Yes I had confused it with vane steering But must admire your effort of building a model while afloat in the cockpit

Regards Ray

Gareth Jones09/11/2017 13:03:54
802 forum posts
1081 photos


As Malcolm explained Braine steering uses a pair of lines connecting the mainsail boom to a quadrant mounted on the rudder shaft. The lines are crossed over so that increased forces on the sail which tend to turn the yacht are counteracted by the rudder. The diagram below shows how the system is installed on a typical yacht and the picture below it shows the quadrant and centering rubber cord as fitted to one of my wife's pond yachts.

braine gear.jpg

The diagram is courtesy of Kim Holland who sent it to me some time ago. If you send me a private message on the forum, giving me your email address I will send you the complete text that accompanies the diagram in the book Model Sailing Yachts by Percival Marshall.

If Braine steering is universally used in the Metropolis is must be the bees knees but speaking as a Northerner, I have found vane gear to be easier to understand and use. However vane gear are much more complicated to make or expensive to buy.


Tony Hadley13/11/2017 21:54:22
914 forum posts
559 photos

Came across this article in February 1951 Model Maker magazine -

braine steering gear - february 1951 (a).jpg

braine steering gear - february 1951 (b).jpg

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