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jrd22 12-22-2010 08:51 PM

New windlass?
I don't want a new windlass. Unfortunately it's looking like that might be a possibility in the near future. I have a Lewmar Ocean 1 vertical windlass that I just put a new gearbox and motor on two years ago but I think the main base/body of the thing is just plain worn out. The only problem I'm having with it is that the chain (all chain, 3/8" BBB) will not feed out without jamming repeatedly when I'm trying to anchor. By jamming I mean that the chain gets caught between the SS body of the windlass and the gypsy right where the chain is supposed to feed into the gypsy. At it's worst it jams maybe 50 times while trying to let out 125', on a good day maybe only a dozen jams or so. Each time I have to reverse the windlass and bring in several inches of chain and then try it again. In a tight anchorage, or with current or wind it is almost impossible to get the hook down where it needs to be. I've replaced the little wear parts, but they just get chewed up and broken in no time. I think that the inside of the body is just so worn that it's allowing the chain to fall over too far where it's supposed to be feeding it into the gypsy. I wouldn't be completely opposed to a new windlass but for the fact that apparently the new windlasses don't offer a gypsy that works with BBB chain, at least Lewmar doesn't seem to, and the chain I have is in great shape (re-galvanized two years ago). Any ideas or suggestions before I bite the bullet?
Thanks in advance.

tdw 12-22-2010 09:10 PM

Hey John,
Kind of went through the same procedure myself a couple of years back. When ours died I put in a new gearbox, then had to turn around and replace the motor. Reality is it would have been not much more expensive to have replaced the entire thing, and gone up a size to boot. Such it is.

I wonder though why it is jamming ? Have you had a good look at the shaft ? Plenty of lubrication ? I did find when I pulled ours apart back then that the grease nipple was in poor shape and may not have been doing its job. In our case that meant water getting in which was what ultimately ruined the gearbox but maybe just maybe you are not getting enough grease onto the shaft ?

Sorry, not much help I know. This was more to provide some moral support. :)

jrd22 12-22-2010 10:17 PM

I'm open to any ideas TD. The jamming is coming from the chain, not anything internal. It pulls the anchor and chain up with no problems and no jamming, ever. Right where the chain makes the 90 degree turn out of the deck and onto the gypsy there seems to be too much room so it doesn't feed smoothly into the gypsy. I can see that there has been a lot of stainless worn away thru the years and it seems that this is providing enough slop for the chain to kind of fall off to the side instead of being pushed into the gypsy. This is my first electric windlass so not much experience to fall back on. I'm wondering if I could have the stainless built up in the base to replace what is worn away but with no original dimensions to work with it would be expensive trial and error.
Why don't the new windlasses work with 3B chain?

jackdale 12-22-2010 10:24 PM


Can you hand over hand the chain down, rather using the windlass? That might buy you some time.

jrd22 12-22-2010 10:31 PM

It's get's heavy fast Jack. 66lb Bruce and 3/8" chain, and it still has to feed up into the gypsy in order to hand feed it. I've tried free falling it by using the winch handle to loosen the gypsy but it jams and then you have to tighten the clutch to un-jam it. PITA.

jackdale 12-22-2010 10:35 PM

That is a lot of weight.

One needs to be careful freefalling an anchor. I have a scar on my left thumb to prove it.

sailingdog 12-23-2010 08:37 AM

Have you tried installing a bushing to reduce the gap? That might buy you another season or two. I wouldn't use stainless steel to make the bushing. I'd use starboard or UHMWPE. It is a lot easier to work and cheaper to replace.

jrd22 12-23-2010 10:16 AM

That is an idea SD. I'm not sure how I would attach it to the SS body of the windlass securely enough to keep the chain from grinding it off. I'll take a couple of pictures this morning of the windlass, maybe someone with one will be able to tell if there is a lot of metal gone.
Does anyone know if any new windlasses are made to use the 3/8" BBB chain? I haven't found any, which is strange.

jackdale 12-23-2010 10:20 AM

svHyLyte 12-23-2010 10:30 AM

John--We have a Maxwell VW-1500 that easily handles 3/8" BBB that has been an excellent investment. Take a look at Vertical Windlass Range . The only problem with these windlasses is the fact that the casing of the drive motor is made of painted steel rather than stainess or aluminum so one has to give them a periodic spray of corrosion blocker to ensure their longevity.

To employ SD's suggestion, you might make an HDPE "throat" that is mounted to the underside of the deck as a chain guide. Alternately, dismount your existing windlass and make an HDPE base plate to match with a slightly smaller opening for the chain guide. The following is our installation:

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