Frequently Asked Questions

We get many questions by mail. A lot of those questions are general questions about the Aries, whether the kit fits a certain boat, and who the people behind the Aries are. Here you can find the answers on many questions you might have concerning our product. Haven’t found the answer to your question? Please get in touch.

Yes. For most later models (Danish and Dutch built) we have rebuild kits available. But we also have them for the older English models, like the most common Aries #3. You can find out where your Aries was made, by looking up the words ‘Cowes’, ‘Denmark’ or ‘Holland’ embossed in the A-frame. Necessary parts may differ since the Aries comes in many different iterations that have different parts. Contact us with pictures of your Vane Gear, so we can tell you what the possibilities are. 

More information about older models can be found HERE

To build equipment for using at sea long term is not easy. You never know what can happen. Many builders and customers do forget that you do not always have normal conditions out there. You can not say “the gear will manage to steer from force 1 till 12”. This is not enough. Every part of the gear has to withstand rough misuse. Then the gear will survive year after year like the Aries.

This is one of those questions we get the most. And we understand why! 

Luckily we can say that in most cases, the Aries will fit your boat fine. Sometimes we need to be creative with the mounting tubes, but we have come up with many solutions over the time. No matter whether you have a canoe-stern, or a stern with a very large angle (either positive or negative).

The Aries has been fitted on 24-footers as well as on 60-foot boats. As long as your boat is well trimmed and balanced, the Aries should be able to steer just fine.

This is hard to answer as there are many types of self steering gears today. One difference however is that the Aries gear is the gear with the most castings. But it is also the first system that doesn’t have a bad weather problem. Because of the famous A-frame, the pendulum rudder cannot flip upwards in heavy seas or heavy winds. If that would happen, the boat would loose its steering and things can go south pretty fast.

Aries is a heavier self steering gear, but is very robust because of it. There have been incidents of collisions right on the stern, where the Aries came out fine, but the other boat was damaged (check out John Passmore’s testimonial).

Aries Vane Gears have been fitted even on 26 foot boats, without issues. There are lighter models that would serve even smaller boats better, but when boat sizes go up, the Aries still proofs to be a very reliable crewmember, even with boats well over 50 feet.

Preferably not. The Aries (and basically every pendulum self steering gear) works best if you fit it in the middle of your stern. Up to 10 centimeter off would work ok, but more is definitely not advised (unless you have a multi hull). What would happen is that the servo rudder is lifted out of the water on one tack and sits very deep in the water on the other tack. This affects performance.


Please bare in mind that older Aries models are sometimes very old. They have often been used for thousands of miles and previous owners usually have altered the system to their own liking. Because of all the alterations, it is almost impossible to replace parts or to fix the Aries if it is not working properly.

We mostly sell rebuild kits for Aries Vane Gear models built in Denmark and Holland, but also for English units built with imperial measurements. But since previous owners might have tempered with the system, we cannot guarantee that the rebuild kits ensure a fully functioning vane gear.

All models, including older models, can be refitted in the workshop in Amsterdam. But in many cases the costs of a new model would be very similar to the costs of a second hand model plus a refit.

Still, fully funtioning but very old Aries Vane Gears are also found from time to time. Golden Globe Race sailor Mark Sinclair sailed halfway around the world with a 40 year old system, without any issues.

More information on second hand models can be found HERE.

There are small parties and individuals that offer parts and service for the Aries. We have worked together with some of them in the past, but have ceased cooperation because the quality was not up to Aries standards. We advice to be very careful with off-brand parts, since one part can influence the operation of the entire kit. Please get in touch with us if you have any doubts.

Definitively! We have done this when the wheel has a hydraulic connection with the Quadrant and the hydraulics slip.

If the emergency tiller has the bracket for the chain mounted, the steering lines can also be mounted. As an added benefit, this solution keeps your cockpit free of any lines.

Ocean sailers have applauded the Aries for its precision and ease of use. The Aries has a click-system which adjusts the vane blade’s angle to the wind. You can remotely adjust the vane by simply pulling a line to either luff up or to bear away. Each click is worth 6 degrees. The maximum deviation of the Aries is therefor only 2 degrees!

In theory it can, but we don’t recommend this. Rudder failure is very rare, but in the past we have been able to use the pendulum rudder as an emergency rudder by attaching lines to the lower part of the pendulum or fixing the steering line. When the pendulum is fixed vertically but still able to rotate, it can function as a rudder. The surface of the pendulum is much smaller than the boat’s rudder, so steering is a lot harder. But it can get you home.

When the vane gear is working, you do not have to go to the wheel or tiller. The lines attached to the tiller or wheel are only in place when the vane gear is steering, so you can cook, take a nap, do chores on board etcetera. The steering lines are made to easily release and put away in harbour or when under sail and you are steering by hand.
There are gears on the market that do not have lines, where you fix the tiller/wheel and the gear steers by itself, but we say that a boat is steered best by its own rudder.

Well, to say that corrosion on the Aries does not exist would be a lie. Aluminum has many advantages like being very tough in strength and it does not get “tired” like stainless steel. Aluminum is not very heavy and it is good to machine for the manufacturer.
One disadvantage is that it can corrode. To minimize this, we have isolated all stainless parts with Delrin bushes and anodized the aluminum. Also today’s alloys are very corrosion resistant. The Aries Vane Gear has the advantage of being on the ocean so long that we can prove that the corrosion is not a problem.

When a pendulum autopilot is used in sever weather or sea state, waves against the back of the boat may flip up the pendulum rudder. This can can have a severe impact, especially when those on board are off-watch and can’t intervene.. This has happened in some cases. Aries-founder Nick Franklin altered the design of the Aries into the one with the A-frame we know so well today. The legs of the A-frame make it impossible for the pendulum rudder to flip up, so it will continue to work.

Yes, the Aries wil work well with a steady breeze. Since the Aries steers on the apparent wind, a gusty environment with big changes in wind strength may not be the best for the Aries, since light displacement boats accelerate very swiftly, which causes the apparent wind to shift forward. The boat would want to bare away in a gust. Keep an eye out!

Aries Vane Gears have already been mounted on Hydraulic systems. There is one condition; the wheel is not allowed to slip. You try this by turning the wheel to hard over and then see if you slowly can continue the turning against the stop. If you can, the pump in the wheel house is not tight, it slips. This does not matter when hand steering but is no good for vane gear steering.

Yes you can. In this case you pay 50 percent with your order and the other 50 percent before shipping.

Aries Vane Gear is just a small company. The production of the Aries is a time consuming and very costly manner with custom made parts. Because of the small margins on the product, we cannot give away free kits unfortunately. 

Feel free to get in touch if you have a cool adventure planned and are planning to use an Aries. We’d love to hear frome you and we can always see if there are other ways of cooperation.

Helen Franklin is the daughter of Nick Franklin, the founder and designer of the original Aries Vane Gear. 
Nick Franklin sold his company to the Danish Peter Matthiessen in the early 90’s, but kept some spare parts in stock. After Nick Franklin’s death, Helen kept selling parts from this stock for older models. If you are in need of a specific part for an older, English model Vane Gear and we don’t sell this, it might be worth a shot contacting her. However, it is hard to get in touch with her. No luck? Get in touch with us!

Lean is the owner of Aries Vane Gear. He bought the company in 2015 from Peter Matthiesen and brought the workshop to Amsterdam. He improved a few things of the design and made sure that the Aries Vane Gear remains the best crewmember on board for years to come.

He loves to sail on his 48ft Brian Lello design and is eager to help sailors fit an Aries for safe and comfortable passages all around the world.

Other Questions

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