Electric Windlass Problem - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 01-25-2010
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Electric Windlass Problem

I was wondering if anyone could identify the possible problem I am having based of the symptoms I describe for my electric windlass on my Morgan 323.

I bought the boat over 2 years ago and the first season and 1st half of the 2nd season the windlass worked flawlessly. It is Lofrans Project 1500 vertical with controls both on the bow and in the cockpit. It was expertly installed by the previous owner using heavy gauge insulated wire and a separate breaker switch near the main battery bank.

As I stated the the windlass worked flawlessly pulling up the part chain, part nylon anchor rode and I always used it to pull up the slack as we motored forward rather than as the muscle.

So 2nd half of last season the windlass would just randomly stop. Sometime it would happen half way through me pulling the rode in - other times it would work dropping the hook but then not work at all when I would hit the button to pull it back in. Luckily it has a notch for a winch handle on top that I was able to use it as a manual windlass to get the anchor up...sometimes if I kept pushing the windlass retrieve button while winching it up manually it would randomly start working again. Sometimes it would work the entire time - others not at all and others half and half.

I always made sure the engine was on and revved up while using the windlass and I have 4 Group 27 Gel Cells that were always more than 75% topped off before using the windlass. I checked all connections, disconnected them cleaned them and reconnected them but they looked perfect in the first place.

So I have no clue what is causing this problem. Has anyone heard of anything like this or have any ideas?

Thanks so much in advance
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Old 01-26-2010
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I wonder if the windlass internal heat-sensitive fuse is causing your problems. If you could attach a voltmeter to your windlass while using it, you could at least determine if the issue is due to electrical issues on the supply side.
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Old 01-26-2010
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I may be misinterpreting the problem but it sounds a bit similar to a problem we had with ours a couple of years back.

Under load it would simply stop working but if I put the winch handle in and cranked then it would usually then give assistance as I manually cranked.

I removed it and pulled it apart only to find that water had got into the gearbox and over time had stripped most of the gear mechanism. The clue to the whole problem was a constant leak from the bottom of the windlass itself.

The windlass is a different make (Muir). They suggested I replace the whole thing but instead I simply replace the gearbox. In hindsight that was a mistake and I wish I had simply taken their advice.

So check for any leaks under the gearbox.

Apologies if I am right off the track.
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Old 01-26-2010
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DC voltage is very hard on switch gear. Problem could be the contacts under the push buttons. It is possible that the pinion gear on the motor is worn but since it works sometimes the problem is more likely an intermitant electrical fault. Someone good with a meter could help narrow it down.
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Old 01-26-2010
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Brush gear on the motor could be sticking. Try a sharp tap with a rubber mallet on the motor casing next time it stops.
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Old 01-26-2010
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Thank you everyone for the replies and suggestions. At least now I know the next time it happens I have a few things to try out.
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