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Bene505 02-26-2010 10:02 PM

Took the windlass apart today - found something interesting things
After going all summer using the Hercules* method of raising the anchor, I've finally gotten around to opening the windlass up and seeing what the problem is. (*Grab chain and raise by hand. Get a great workout. Get all covered in muck. Pull. Pull. P u u u u l l l.)

See Sailnet Post - w1ndlass just goes click

First, I took the windlass off the boat. After rebuilding both the "mystery blower" and our washdown pump in the last few weeks at home, I saw how great it is to actually spend time with your family while working on a project, instead of disappearing all day to a cold, far away, cluttered-with-projects boat to make progress. With a lot of snow on the ground today, and time indoors to spend on a project, this approach really paid off.

Here's a picture of the windlass on the bow, taken while working on removing it. (I had the motor cover off in this picture).

One of the bolts was pretty tough - the washer and nut were partially tabbed in place, so I had to chisel through some fiberglass to get a wrench around it. Here's a shot of the tabbed-in-place bolt.

The I used a dockline tied to the jib halyard to lower the very heavy windlass to the ground. The spinnaker halyard would have been better, but it rained halyard in the fall while I was putting winter lines up. (There's another trip up the mast in my future.)

Back at home, I commandeered the dinner table for a day. With a little bit of liquid wrench, I managed to get a few parts off. Here's a video of my getting the first few parts off. I was learning as I went, as you'll soon see. (I used Liquid Wrench, not PB Blaster as I said in the video. Inside the house, I didn't want everyone breathing the fumes all day.)

Click here for video (10 Megabytes)

I could not get the gipsy (the thingy where the chain links fit in) off it's shaft. And one of the allen-wrench type bolts was really stuck. So a quick call to our car mechanic was in order. Plowing through all the snow in the driveway, I got to his shop, handed him some money and a great Unibrau beer with the words "I know you time is valuable so I'm giving you this for just looking at this thing". (Very true and I really like having a happy mechanic that I can call.)

Bill Anzelone got the gipsy off the shaft with a "pop" that made me jump. I didn't expect a loud noise and such a sudden motion when it snapped off. Then he went to work on the partially stripped bolt. He applied heat, tried a few things, and in the end got the bolt out by hammering the next size allen wrench (hex shaped) driver into the bolt and then using an impact wrench. I NEVER would have gotten that bolt out without Billy's help.

Here's a shot of Billy.

He also took the electirc motor off the windlass. There, laying between the ridges on the worm gear was a small piece of metal. Yeah! That was the cause of the windlass just going "click". I still have no idea where it came from. It doesn't match anything on the parts diagram, that's for sure. (Maybe BullyRuffin' put it in there, thinking that it was me who put those bolts in his engine bilge. A.k.a., how to drive a meticulous sailboat owner nuts.)

Mystery piece of metal that was lodged in the worm gear.

Billy Anzelone and I couldn't get the next disk-thingy off and we didn't want to break anything when the parts breakout should be consulted first. So he loaned me the cooking pan and helped pack everything back in the car. My homework was to 1) drain the oil, 2) check for other loose parts sitting in the oil, 3) check the parts breakout, 4) see if I could slide the shaft out without taking the disk-thingy off the shaft.

Windlass sitting in our car, now partially taken apart. The body of the windlass is filled with oil, so it had to stay upright. Everything else was wedged in next to it, to make sure it didn't tip over.

I ended up doing my homework exactly as he said. Here's a shot of the windlass back on our dinner table. The allen wrench bolts are all out and the shaft is ready to slide out. SO I THOUGHT! I had to remove the key on the right first. (The thingy shaped like a mini loaf of bread that is embedded into the shaft.) I was wondering why the shaft wouldn't slide out all the way. Then Grandma - of all people - pointed it out. I guess it pays to marry an engineer as she did many years ago.

Removing the key. In the end, I put the vice grips in the middle of it and wiggled it out.

Disassembled at last!!!

Now the second discovery. There's a spring that holds the latching thingy against the bumpy thingy, so the windlass doesn't go into free-fall on it's own. The spring was broken and one of the bolts that holds it in place was bent.

Also the other piece of the broken spring was lying in the oil inside the windlass. Billy Anzelone cautioned me to look in the oil for other pieces. He's good!

Note the bent screw screw.JPG

For those of you wondering what the inside of your windlass looks like, here's a picture. Half way down the hole you'll see a rubber "O' ring. I have the "seals kit" for this windlass and plan to replace the seals. Of course, that means I'll have to get that stubborn disk thingy off the shaft because there's a seal behind it.

This thingy needed cleaning. I scraped with an old screw driver to get rid of some of the oxidation. If anyone knows a good cleaner to use, let me know. I think this piece is not aluminum. Bronze maybe?

Here's a before and after where I cleaned one of the springs. I'll need to re-lube these, so I'm planning to ask Lofrans what type of grease to use. (I have grease that came with Defender's outboard winterization kit. Maybe I could use that.)

Now I better order the new parts from Lofrans and clean up the dinner table before hitting the sack tonight. Next time I'm going to completely cover the table with newspaper before starting. I think I played it a bit risky this time.

I intend to post an update after the parts arrive. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if I should use some On&Off to the outside of the windlass to restore it to it's previous beauty.

All in all, a lot of progress today!


P.S. Here's some windlass eye candy. Its a picture of our boat when it was new and a member of the Moorings fleet. Note how shiny the windlass was a decade ago.

Stillraining 02-27-2010 12:57 AM

Nice post...I liked it

tager 02-27-2010 01:02 AM

CLR should work.

rdw 02-27-2010 08:15 AM

Seeing all the detail should give some of us less experienced a little courage to tackle a similiar task. I enjoyed your post.

smackdaddy 02-27-2010 08:36 AM

78 Attachment(s)
Bene, dude, you are fearless. Thanks for these great posts.

I'm going to go the marina and take someone's windlass apart.

sailingdog 02-27-2010 10:23 AM


I'd highly recommend using DuPont Teflon Bearing Grease. If you can't find that, I'd recommend using DuPont Krytox bearing grease as a good alternative.

jrd22 02-27-2010 10:33 AM

Good job, good post. I'm glad to see the bigger Lofrans windlasses are built better than the manual one we had, it was the cheapest, most poorly built thing I've ever taken apart (except for maybe a Chinese made 10 speed bike).

Bene505 02-28-2010 12:03 AM

I took the cover off the electric motor (as Philsboat suggested on the AS site), removed a lot of dust and checked the brushes. The brushes look good with lots of life left on them (I think). I can only image that the ton of dust that came out was from an older set of brushes. The PO probably changed brushes without removing the motor from the windlass, so he couldn't shake it around like I did to remove the dust. Looking at the smoky color of the inside of the motor case, and the lack of any discoloration on this motor, I'm thinking this may not be the original motor. See the 6th picture in this thread. Anyway, when I removed the cover a pile of dust fell out. Here are some pictures. There was probably 10x as much dust that came out total.

Removing the cover

Some dust

Here's a movie of me vacuuming dust (for those with a lot of time on their hands, I imagine). At this point, the 2 screws were still in the pan.

Click here for video (7 Megabytes)

Here's the shot of the 2 screws after I was done vacuuming. Oops.

I got the screw back, by digging into the really full vacuum cleaner bag (did it outside). It would have been harder if the bag wasn't almost completely full.

And then I got to experience that again, after I vacuumed both screws up.

Here's a shot of one of the brushes. All the brushes looked about the same. I didn't take it apart any further. There was a lot of tension in the spring and, frankly, I didn't want to mess with it. If anyone thinks these brushes need to be changed, please let me know.

I noticed there was a lot of rust around parts of the O ring that goes between the cover and the rest of the motor housing. I scraped some of it away (with the vacuum catching the scrapings) to help the O ring get a better seal. Not sure what to do about this. Option 1 is to wire brush it and paint it with rustoleum (or something else). Option 2 is to use some waterproofing grease around the O ring (like when you seal an underwater camera housing). Option 3 is to do nothing, simply put it back in place as-is. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I have a long list of project yet to do this spring, so I'm opting for option 3 if option 2 isn't practical.

Rust around the O ring


I didn't mention this previously, but the shaft for the brake is a bit bent. Rather than getting a new one for $134 IIRC, and then attaching it to the little "steering wheel" at the top of the shaft somehow, I'm going to try to straighten it myself. The though goes something like this. "Wow that's a lot of money. Hey, I have a vice. I'll straighten it myself." I guess I'll have to post my results with that. The brake still works fine, but it's a little annoying that the "steering wheel" moves from side-to-side as you turn it.


In other news, I went to Ace hardware and got 2 new bolts like the bent one and the exterior one that got a bit stripped. $1.30 each. That's much cheaper than getting the bolts as part of "Kit B" from Lofrans ($74 IIRC). I also got a couple of nylon washers to replace some very worn ones that protected the outer housing that covers the motor. The nylon washers were $0.20 each. The washers are twice the thickness of the Lofrans ones, so I'll have to see how they work, and maybe go to a different hardware store to get thinner ones.

I got the CLR. It says on on the bottle to not use it on aluminum. So I'll try it on a out-of-sight part of the aluminum case and see how it looks. I think there's a lok of gunk that needs to be scubbed away with dishwashing soap first. So I'll don my rubber gloves, grab the green scubby pads I just got, wash, rinse, apply the CLR, then rinse again. At least the work sink in the basement will look clean.

Finally, I got a nearly identical spring from the hardware store. $1.10. Then I brought it home, looked at how the wire guage was much thinner and how it was shiny instead of dark (maybe less carbon) and I chickened out on using it. Bock Bock Bock! This way I don't have to listen to CD and Dog telling me about how foolish I was for choosing a small spring that gave out when I really needed that latchy thingy to keep the anchor chain from going into free fall in 400 feet of water, with the broken spring jamming in the worm gear of the now useless motor. (And they'd be right to say so!) Instead, I just spent the $30 plus shipping on the Lofrans site. Anyway, all these costs seem pretty small when you consider that I'm getting a $4865 windlass back in operation. (Check it here on the Defender site.)

That's it for now.


sailingdog 02-28-2010 06:57 AM


Hope you checked the bolts from the hardware store with a magnet. Good marine grade stainless steel is NON-MAGNETIC. The cheaper stainless steel is magnetic.

thinplaces 02-28-2010 08:58 AM

I would replace those brushes, what do they cost $15 a piece?

It also looks like the gear (that the worm gear drives) is worn.

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