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Re: Which winch?
Here's an old post about the process. For some reason I can't copy the link to the whole thread - it works fine when I test a reply but when I post it, it no longer works? Do they get too old to copy at some point?
Edit: You usually don't have to dismount them but if they are old it can't hurt - that way you can service them at home and re-seal and re-mount them PROPERLY which is seldom done at the factory.
To do them in place, cut a winch sized hole in the bottom of a cardboard carton and tape it down over the winch. That way if you drop anything during disassembly it won't go over the side. A lot of people think that little springs and such will go BOIIING over the side when they slide the drum up & off but I've never experienced that. Keep a container on hand, on the cockpit seat, NOT on the deck, to put the parts in. Plug the cockpit drains in case "somebody" kicks that container over.
I've done it lots so now I just spread an old towel around the base of mine - it's easier than working down in a box albeit less safe for a first timer.
If you have old winches from out of business companies, I have found that springs & pawls - the most commonly needed replacements - work between manufacturers. I use Lewmar springs & pawls in my Barients. You MUST replace them ALL in a given winch if you go this route though because there are very minor differences in size that will result in one of them carrying all the load while the other gets a free ride. In my case the Lewmar pawls were a hair shorter than the Barients, just enough that the Lewmars wouldn't have pressed tight against the ratchet if they were mixed together. So far I haven't noticed any difference between springs from different manufacturers.
Lastly, winches are usually pairs so only strip one at a time, that way you have the other as a reference if needed for reassembly.
It's an easy and satisfying job until you get into big 3 speeders - those things are like an automobile transmission inside. Of course, by the time you are stripping them, you should be experienced. Start on single speed winches, assuming you have them - they are very simple. If you are nervous, have a digital camera on hand and take lots of pictures from different angles. When I popped the drums off my 3 speeders for the first time I stood back and took a breath and then took a couple of dozen photos first. I had no problems after that. The smooth movement and precision sounds they made afterwards were worth all the work.
One last thing - I can't speak from experience on this one though, since I've never needed them. If you should need replacement bearings for a winch from a long gone manufacturer, don't lose heart or immediately replace the winch at the usual great expense. Track down a large industrial bearing supplier in your area and make friends with their counterman. An old friend of mine was an inside salesman for a large bearing supplier and my uncle owned a large competing bearing supply business. They carry or can source the most incredible array of bearings. I doubt the winch manufacturers make their own - they probably use something stock which a good supplier can source for you. They might even be able to find something better - non-plastic races for example. Winch bearings aren't exotic, they are simple roller bearings - you just need the right inside & outside diameters and close in length - a LITTLE shorter can be shimmed between the top & bottom bearings.
Considering how much it costs to replace a winch, it's worth a fair bit of searching for parts first. My three speeders would cost me nearly $10K EACH to replace so needless to say, I'll move mountains if I ever need any "unobtanium" parts.
I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.