Thanks for the reply, Dan. Looks like I too will need to do a lot of homework. I will start with Garmin, as you suggested, because of my chart plotter. I really don't want an auxiliary kicker so I have to find something that will tie into my ancient assisted steering system. I went out as a first mate on a trolling charter that of course had an autopilot. It certainly made up my mind on the necessity of steering electronics.
I also am interested in an autopilot. I have a 1985, 5000 Lb 24' with 260 merc Alpha 1 (MR) drive with what I assume is hydraulic assist because there is a power steering pump on the engine. Plan on using it primarily for trolling at 1.5 to 2.5 MPH in west basin. You talked about the Garmin TR1 and I presently have a garmin 541 chart plotter. The other unit I read about is the Octopus Autopilot drive system. Would also like to do a self install. Excited to see this forum and would be extremely grateful for any suggestions including model numbers. Thanks in advance. Chuck E.