Windlass Footswitch Failure - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 02-08-2009
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Windlass Footswitch Failure

So, one of the minor gripes we're dealing with is balky/in-op windlass footswitches. I say minor because we also have another double-pole switch mounted on the steering pedestal, so it's not as bad as it could be.

The set up is a Lofrans Tigres windlass with stock 4" thru-deck switches (see image below.)

The switches worked OK early last year, but became progressively less cooperative the more they were used. I initially suspected corroded/loose connections, but they all check out fine. I've got a nice solid read of 12v at the posts of both switches, at the solenoid, etc all the way back to the breaker. There are no signs compromise on any of the wiring runs. The switch at the helm works like a champ, so the solenoid checks out OK. That leaves where I began -- apparent footswitch switch failure.

I'm not nearly salty enough to know what the MTBF for footswitches should be, so I'm afraid I may be overlooking an underlying problem if I just fix or replace the switches. They appear to be fully sealed/enclosed so corrosion of the contacts would seem to be unlikely. Burning of the contacts comes to mind as a possible exlaination. Of course, I may be over-thinking this one...

So, what say you folks?

Last edited by PorFin; 06-20-2012 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 02-08-2009
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I feel your pain.

A couple of years ago I had a footswitch fail. After midnight. At anchor.
The damned thing shorted spontaneously, and the windlass began paying out chain.

Only good thing is that I was sleeping near the breaker for the windlass, and after identifying the noise as coming from the windlass I tripped the breaker.

The windlass foot switches were then about 6 years old. I removed them both, saw the problem (very poor arrangement of very thin wires, corrosion underneath), then searched for several weeks for better switches. Of any make, model, or cost.

I was disappointed. Even visited the Annapolis Boat Show and talked to the vendors, played with the switches, etc.

IMHO, they're all pretty piss poor. Finally, in disgust, I bought the best ones I could find and installed them. But I'm still not happy.

DOESN'T ANYONE, ANYWHERE MAKE ROBUST, WATERPROOF DECK SWITCHES FOR WINDLASSES?????

Bill
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Old 02-08-2009
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Bill,

Thanks -- second opinions and sanity checks are invaluable. I'm reluctant to actually remove the switches until I'm sure that I've fully identified the problem. The deck seal is sound, so why create more work than necessary, right?

I guess I'll remove the switches this week and take a closer look.

Anyone else with any experience or advice?
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