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  #1  
Old 08-13-2014
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Winch Free Spins

My jib sheet winch free spins at times. What is the cause of this? I can hear the rachet clicking, but the winch still free spins. It does this intermitantly- sometimes it locks, other times it slips. Is there a brake adjustment.

I know I need to open it up and clean and grease as it has been many years since it was serviced (I have never done it). Would clean and grease fix the free spin or is it probably somthing mechanical?
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Old 08-13-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

Yes a good clean and service may well solve the problem. Otoh, if it has been overly long since last service you may find a few bits inside will need replacement. Nonetheless dismantle completely, clean, lubricate etc. If the winches are clagged up with old grease (many people use too much when they service) it may simply be a case of pawls, springs and the like sticking in a morass of old grease. Mineral turpentine or some other degreasing liquid is the go.

Oh yes ..... not knowing brand of winches but ..... have containers for parts, be careful you don't catapult parts overboard as you dismantle. Get a schematic of the winches and have handy as you work.

When reassembling do not over grease and don't slather grease on parts (springs pawls etc) that do not want greasing. Light machine oil will do quite nicely.

Reality is btw, that if you service your winches once a year it is a quick and easy job. Leave it too long and it is a tadge nasty and quite time consuming.
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Old 08-13-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

It sounds as though you have either an excessive grease problem which is interfering with the pawls or pawl springs, or they need replacement. I just serviced all of my Barlow winches for the first time since I bought my boat. What a difference! Incidentally, there are some great "how to" videos on you tube. Another plus: Lewmar sells pawls and springs for Barient/Barlow winches.
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Old 08-14-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

Most likely related to the pawls which is the clicking you hear when you turn the winch by hand. If you are lucky, a simple clean and lube will fix things. It's also possible that one or more pawls or pawl springs will need replacement. Worst case is the teeth the pawls work against or the piece the pawls sit in are worn and need replacement. Note that the pawls should not be lubed with grease, only light oil.
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Old 08-14-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

Second on the pawls.

Our technique for winch rebuilding includes taking an appropriately sized cardboard box and cutting a slot and hole such that you can put the box 'round the winch for parts and mess containment

Heavy grease for gears, light oil for pawls. If you search, there are myriad discussions on the 'Net about winch rebuilding
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Old 08-14-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

Considering the price of winches, and lack of parts for many older winches, you may want to consider doing them yearly. With no lube the parts can wear and many of them, especially on older winches, are no longer even available.

If you keep up with servicing it should take less than 20 minutes per winch..

If it is free spinning you likely have a stuck pawl, failed pawl spring or a worn pawl socket which is causing it to jam up.
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Old 08-14-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

I hate to disagree with the advice given above, but I have read (somewhere) that oil is not useful in servicing winches, as it is likely to migrate out of the place where you want it, and into places where you don't (specifically the bearings).

The recommendation is to use a light coating of grease, and no oil.

CAVEAT: this may only be true for Andersen Winches (with which I am most familiar), but it makes sense to me.
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Old 08-14-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

you can if parts arent available make new pawls or solder them up or even in extreme cases rebuild them and layer them up with some good strong epoxy and thickener

even jb weld can be used to get that little nub back on the pawls

of course you need to know what they should look like new

I agree first that it more than likely is a combination of weak pawl springs, worn pawl and or stickiness from eiother lack of grease and oil on the post of the pawl or stickiness from lack of lube...both like mentioned can or will cause the, to stick and therefore free spin the drum

I think you have a quick fix

the cardboard trick is a mechanics classic...punch a diagram of your bolts, drum etc and rebuilding is a dream...uts even better than tha ole ziploc and sharpie method

good luck
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Re: Winch Free Spins

Quote:
Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
I hate to disagree with the advice given above, but I have read (somewhere) that oil is not useful in servicing winches, as it is likely to migrate out of the place where you want it, and into places where you don't (specifically the bearings).

The recommendation is to use a light coating of grease, and no oil.

CAVEAT: this may only be true for Andersen Winches (with which I am most familiar), but it makes sense to me.
You are correct. IMO the majority of info out there on winch lubing is "Conventional Wisdom" and/or out of date. I attach a post I did a while back on the subject.


As far as winch lubrication goes, I'd like to add a bit of "against the grain" info here. I now exclusively use white lithium grease on my winches. I have tried everything over the years - water pump grease, insanely overpriced "winch" grease from the manufacturer, PTFE grease etc. etc.

The white lithium is actually a cream colour and has a consistency about like stiff yogurt. I currently have a cup of Gunk brand and it is specifically recommended for boat winches. You have to be sure to get some with this colour and texture. I have also seen "white lithium grease" that was much more like the usual grease you see - more of a dark amber colour and very stiff, like wheel bearing grease - DON'T use this stuff.

It goes on cleanly and stays clean - doesn't trap dirt like the other stickier greases. It also leaves everything freer - the winches turn noticeably more easily. Its lower viscosity than the other commonly used winch greases gives it these attributes. I've been using it for at least 20 years now and have NEVER had a spring or pawl or any other failure on a winch greased with it.

Here's the sacrilege - you can GREASE your pawls & springs with it. A light coating clings better than oil but doesn't cause the stiction that heavier greases would (and which is the reason for the conventional wisdom of oil only on them). This has the added benefit of quieting the winches - the pawls go tic tic tic instead of clink, clink, clink.

I grease everything quite heavily, reassemble the winches and rotate them several times, pop the drums off again and wipe off all the "squeeze out", then reassemble. That gives the exact right amount everywhere internally.

It has the added benefit of cleaning up easily when you strip the winches next time - no wire brushes needed to get the dried crust off things - everything rinses clean in solvent or diesel.

Only one lubricant needed for everything, including your throttle cables, shift mechanisms, steering cables etc. as well. A cup of it costs about $5 and lasts for about a decade - try it, you'll like it a lot.

As for PTFE greases (Teflon), a friend who was in the bearing business for decades said it should NOT be used on caged roller bearings. It is so slippery that the rollers tend to skid instead of rolling.
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Old 08-14-2014
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Re: Winch Free Spins

The digital camera is your friend. Take pictures of EVERY STEP as you dismantle them.

Tape down the edges of the box around the winch. Those springs will try to escape and go for a swim.

If you have a cat watch that he does not disappear with a tinkly thing to play with. Ask me how I know this is important.
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Last edited by TQA; 08-14-2014 at 01:38 PM.
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