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I have been using my self deploy Ulterra I-Pilot with no issues for apoex 2 yrs. However, I’ve heard they have problems with a belt breaking. Is it an easy fix and when should I consider replacing it.
Also, any thiughts on replacing it with a Rodan?
 

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I can't speak for the Rhodan, have heard as many good stories as bad and I think it's pretty much a toss-up.

Ok long post incoming, but you asked....

I have replaced or had replaced nearly every part of my Minn Kota Ulterra with the auto-stow/deploy function, and I'll share my experience. First thing to fail was about 3 months after the warranty expired (of course), and it was the trim/deploy feature. Since it was out of warranty, my wife and I figured what do we have to lose? We took the cover off the deploy motor unit, and after consulting YouTube and my sitting on the bow of my boat for a couple hours tinkering, we figured out that there are several components involved... this time it was the externally accessible belt that drives the two mechanisms (stow and trim). We disassembled the accessible parts, and I removed the actual motor and the drive belt, found the belt (this is the small belt, maybe 6 inches diameter) had a raw spot worn in it.

We talked to a couple different shops, which all told us it would be a few weeks and they would 'look at it.' We then talked to Doug at Perdido Marine Supply on Gulf Beach Highway. He took the time to listen to what I was saying, and he said it sounded like the belt we were talking about could be replaced at home... he literally said to me 'I'd be happy to do it for you, but to be honest I'd have to charge you labor and you don't really need me at this point, you have already disassembled it and put it back together once (which we had), you just need the belt.' Ok.... so what's involved in getting the belt? 'Well most shops wait till they have a repair in shop then order the part, but I keep the commonly used parts in limited stock so I can move more quickly... there are a lot of parts I have to replace often and I just keep them in the shop, so I have one of those belts on hand.. it'll be $6.' I drove an hour to pick up a part and ended up talking to Doug for 20 minutes, where he explained a lot about how these things work. I learned a lot. He didn't have to spend the time, but he did. Even showed me the unit he was working on so I could see it first-hand. For six bucks, very little of which I would guess he actually made in profit.

We replaced that belt and after I used the advice that Doug gave me about properly adjusting the tightness of the belt, the unit worked flawlessly for about 8 months. Then the next thing failed. This was the steering motor. This time, everything I read said it could not be fixed and just has to be replaced. I called the shops closer to home, they said 6 weeks, I called Doug, he said no more than a week. I dropped it off, he apologized that two other motors came in ahead of mine between our phone call and when I was able to drive out there and drop it off, but he would try his best, and he had it done in 5 days. 5 days. I dropped it off on Monday, I picked it up on Friday. I never lost a weekend of fishing. Will's and Andalusia said it would be 6 weeks and 3 weeks respectively till they would be able to 'look at it,' and then part ordering and repair time. 5 days. Thank you, Doug.

Next thing to go was the stow motor again, but this time it was the gears inside... awful grinding noise, he said this was not a belt this was the gears, and he took the time to show me a unit he had on hand and how it all looked, and basically it had to be replaced. Which we did. Not a cheap part, but fast turnaround. His price was exactly what I had found when I looked up the part on the internet, so again he was shooting straight with me on the cost. I was about ready to buy a new motor but it was that place where you say, well I can buy another $300-400 part and pay labor or I can go in for $2k+ for a new motor with warranty....I had already replaced most of the other high-fail parts, so ... I did the part, and I am still using it, but it's starting to sound a little weird with the stow motor and I suspect it's not long till I'm back in the same spot. I partly blame Minn Kota, but it's a piece of equipment with lots of moving parts that gets used in saltwater... it's just the nature of the beast. I will likely buy a new motor soon enough, and then repair this one later to keep as a spare for when I need warranty work done, or when it fails after the warranty is out, which it will eventually. They all do.

I will not take it anywhere but to Doug, though... even though I live in Milton and he's out by Perdido. Service is worth something and he's been awesome.

Incidentally and more to your last question, I asked him about Rhodan, and he said he knows a guy who works on Rhodans and they have issues just like every other motor does, but the difference is that it's harder to find a local repair shop for Rhodan right now, so you're forced to ship it every time. You'll hear great things about them, and you'll hear issues, just like MK and MotorGuide. he did say MK has responded with improved gaskets and seals for its units, but still...it's a crapshoot tbh.

So, I dunno if that helps you or not, and if not then sorry for the long post. Good luck!
 

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Glad you got it going again...they are a PIA but a definite help on any boat!!! I owned an Ulterra but won't again...It's very convenient but I'll strict to the Terova...
 

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I'm not a brand fan boy or anything, I have an open mind as brands improve or drop off and certain models outperforming others. I wanted a manual deploying ipilot but ended up buying a Rhodan 2 months ago for the extra shaft length. Rhodans cost a little more but they include stuff like brackets and ram mounts which are a good $150-200 and have to be purchased separately with pilots which narrows the price gap. The store I bought from flat out refused to install any self deploy trolling motors because they break so much. The receiver crapped out last weekend and a 5 minute phone call led to them overnighting me the part which was a 20 minute fix. I didn't even have to take the motor off the boat. Their customer service is legit. Shoutout to Emerald Coast Marine (a certified Rhodan repair shop in FWB) for helping troubleshoot the issue over the weekend while the Rhodan help line was closed too.

Also I don't know your particular set up, but it's easy to stow and deploy the motor on our center console, so I would certainly recommend replacing it with a manual model, but when that cost/benefit ratio tips towards replacing the unit is up to you.
 

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I have a Ulterra Riptide on my 25' C-Hawk. Bought it new in 2017. The motor broke again for the 6th time in early April. L&L marine in DeFuniak was closed for the virus, so I called the factory. I spoke to a representative and plead my case for extending the warranty, as it was about to run out. She pulled up my service records and acknowledged that my motor had been repaired 5 times within the warranty period. I told here that the motor had indeed spent more days at the repair shop that days fishing.

Then came the unexpected; she said that the factory was shut down for the virus, and when it started again they were going to send me a brand new motor. The motor came last week, I installed it and it works great. I sent the old motor back to the factory in the box, they even paid for the return shipping!

There are some problems with the Ulterra's at some point they will be perfected. I have to have a self deploy model, my boat has a full cabin. At my age, crawling out on the bow to fool with a motor isn't an option.

I have a regular manual deploy 24 volt on my small cape, much less to go wrong with it. I'm sold on Minn Kota.
 

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I would certainly recommend replacing it with a manual model, but when that cost/benefit ratio tips towards replacing the unit is up to you.
Yeah I tend to agree on this one. The next one I buy will probably be manual. The only hesitance I have isn't having to deploy and stow, it's the auto trim. I use my boat a lot up in skinny water and it's really nice not to have to constantly adjust the trim collar on the motor manually. I do like being able to stay on my helm to hold a spot with the main engine while trolling motor is deployed, but again, not worth the price when it breaks... especially since if it fails while deployed you can manage to stow it manually but it's apparently a pretty big deal to fix it at that point. I still will likely replace it with a manual, given the money, sweat, and cursing I have put into the current unit.
 

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Deploy and retrieve automatically - great idea and labor saving. Unfortunately, many more moving parts to go wrong. I've had a Motorguide Xi5 manual to deploy/retrieve for over 3 years and have not had a problem with it. I don't think that that is unique to MG, only that less moving parts mean less problems.
 

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100% Rhodan for me. Sold the 4 year old 72" with the KW 239 back in March. Have a new 60" on the way to go on the KW flats hull I'm repowering at the moment.

They have three things right. Simplicity - easy to use, less to break. Dependability. And most importantly, CUSTOMER SERVICE. When you need them, they answer the phone and HELP. Great people.

Bought the new one through Shane at Livingston Marine. $150 off and free drop shipping to my door. Because I'm in AL no tax as well.
 

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I have been using my self deploy Ulterra I-Pilot with no issues for apoex 2 yrs. However, I’ve heard they have problems with a belt breaking. Is it an easy fix and when should I consider replacing it.
Also, any thiughts on replacing it with a Rodan?
LOVE my Rhodan! Super reliable..Easy to use..Key fob the size of a cars to set it..and forget it...MUCH more reliable then any Minnkota...Their Tech support is in Sarasota and SUPER helpful and Fast! I have a 48v 60 Inch Shaft on my 21 Foot Mako.. Works amazingly well! I'm SO Spoiled! lol...
 

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Just had a Rhodan put on my boat... Haven't even put it in the water yet! I did a lot of research before I made the choice between the Rhodan and the Minn Kota though.
 
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