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post #1 of 13 Old 07-01-2008 Thread Starter
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Installing Windlass

I'm installing a Lewmar Pro-1000H windlass and want to go off the reservation a bit when it comes to how it's wired. The standard wiring diagram in the manual shows the lead from the battery going thru the supplied 70A breaker to something they call a "contactor", which I think is simply a switching relay. The common lead from the switch circuit (a 3-way circuit since it controls up vs down) then connects to the same positive line. It looks like the same lead to the battery powers both the winch itself and the switch side of the relay. I would like to control when the windlass will be operational. I am concerned about someone inadvertently activating it. I could use the the circuit breaker provided with the kit to do this by using its test and reset buttons, but this seems rather inelegant. We control everything else on the boat using breakers on the main 12v distribution panel, so this would be my preferred solution to this requirement. My panel will not accept a 70A breaker, so that option is out. I am assuming the contactor is a switching relay that controls the power sent to the windlass (and its polarity for direction control). I was thinking I could use the provided breaker to protect the circuit powering the windlass and use a circuit from my distribution panel to control the switching circuit in the contactor. From looking at the wiring diagram provided with the installation instructions, it looks if what I'd like to do would be feasible if:

- I wire the positive and negative leads to the contactor with the positive lead going through the 70A circuit breaker provided with the kit. This way the 70A breaker is protecting the current to the windlass.

- I power the common lead in the switch circuit through a breaker in my 12v distribution panel.

Has anone any experience with this? I've contacted Lewmar but have yet to get a response. Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-01-2008
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jbondy-

Based on the manual i found here, that should work reasonably well, but i would recommend you buy a small 3 amp breaker for the circuit, since you're effectively going to be replacing the 3 amp fuse shown in the wiring diagram with a breaker on the DC panel.




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post #3 of 13 Old 07-01-2008 Thread Starter
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SD - Thanks. That's the diagram I was looking at. It's the fused 3A lead that I would run to the breaker panel instead of where they show it connecting on the "contactor". Since I already have spare breakers (15A), I thought I'd put a 3A fuse in the line. Is that tacky? I figure i could add a 3A breaker later if I find another use for the 15A spare.
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JMHO, but I think that circuit panel breakers should ideally be sized for the load they're dealing with.

If you can't do that, then the circuit breaker should be feeding a fused panel that has appropriate size fuses for the loads.

One thing you might want to consider doing is setting up a foredeck light and possibly hull-mounted lights, that are connected to a fuse panel that supplies the control line to the anchor windlass, so that these lights would come on when you're working with the anchor and windlass. Having hull-mounted lights pointed into the water makes working with the anchor a lot simpler, especially at night or in bad weather.

The fused panels I prefer for wiring are the Blue Sea ones that take the ATC fuses and look like this:



Or you could add a switch panel to the setup and run the breaker to that and run the windlass as a single fused-switch off the panel. I use these panels on my boat, because they're water resistant in design, use standard ATC blade fuses and the switch panel prevents the switches from being easily hit accidentally since it extends past them a bit. .



I recently added several of both to my boat to clean up the mess that the electrician who commissioned my boat made of the DC side of things. It also allowed me to reduce the types of fuses that I have to carry as spares to just ATC, MegaFuse and MaxiFuses. The ATC are for individual instruments and devices, the MegaFuse is a 250 Amp fuse for the Inverter-to-house bank connection and the Maxi-fuse protects the main DC panel.




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Last edited by sailingdog; 07-01-2008 at 09:58 AM.
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It would be easier to just replace one of the spare 15A breakers with a 3A. I recently installed a Blue Seas distribution panel (see below) next to the original panel and reired the whole DC system to ABYC specs. Thanks.
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One last point. DON'T MOUNT THE FOOT SWITCHES IN A POSITION WHERE YOU CAN PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE CHAIN WHILE STEPPING ON THE SWITCHES.

This is a common mistake people make, and it leads to mangled, crushed or amputated fingers and hands, since they often decide to try and work on the rode and step on the switch by accident, and their fingers get caught in the windlass gypsy. You should never, ever have anyone near a windlass switch when you're working with the anchor rode.




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post #7 of 13 Old 07-01-2008
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I wired my Lewmar 700 windlass using a contactor (idea of running 30 amp wires into the steering post didn't sit well with me). I thought about similar setup but ended up using provided breaker instead (btw Lewmar provides a good-looking face plate for the breaker that makes installation look like it belongs there ).

One advantage of that is that turning off the breaker removes power both from the relay cirquit and from contactor itself. If not - contactor is always powered, and who knows what can short inside that box (the one I bought *new* from Defender seems to be made back in 90s, so beware - Lewmar may be selling old stock ).

BTW, amperage was the main reason I selected 700 over 1000 - the wiring for 1000 is just way too thick to properly lead around the boat, plus my alternator only puts out 50 Amps which is sufficient for 700 but not enough for 1000 (and draining another 30 amps or so out of the batteries is a good way to ruin them methinks)

Last edited by brak; 07-01-2008 at 10:34 AM.
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Thanks all.

SD - Now you've got me thinking. I'm installing the wired remote rather than the foot switch so that the foredeck crew will have at least one hand busy using the switch and the location of the jack (just inside the forward hatch) will keep them away from the windlass. But I was laso planning to mount another switch back near the helm as a backup, in case I was singlehanding or otherwise needed to operate the windlass from back there. Now I'm worried about accidental activation. Maybe I'll install a switch that disconnects the helm switch so that it will only be able to be used when intentional.

brak - Tell me about it! I ran the wires this past weekend. They're as thick as a finger and a PITA to support. I've got a Balmar 90A alternator, so I figure I'm OK power-wise. What is the concern about the contactor being powered? The switch circuitry only draws current when a switch is activated. The windlass side of the contactor only draws currrent when the switch side is closed. There should be no draw except when in use.
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Either put in a cutout switch or a safety cage over it. One guy I know installed a momentary-type switch as the safety switch—I guess he was figuring that you would press it with one hand and use the other to operate the windlass. I asked him... what happens if you need to have a hand free, say to steer the boat.. he's since replaced it with a real switch. It was a good idea in theory, but lousy in practice.




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post #10 of 13 Old 07-01-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbondy View Post
brak - Tell me about it! I ran the wires this past weekend. They're as thick as a finger and a PITA to support. I've got a Balmar 90A alternator, so I figure I'm OK power-wise. What is the concern about the contactor being powered? The switch circuitry only draws current when a switch is activated. The windlass side of the contactor only draws currrent when the switch side is closed. There should be no draw except when in use.
Well, contactor still has power on the "input" connections if it is not cut from the battery. I don't know what the relay looks like and whats inside that thing, but I don't trust it all that much. I can certainly imagine something shorting inside the relay or activating simply because the boat is pitching and yawing and what not. I prefer to keep it disconnected at all times


These are nice windlasses for sure, though. Mine has excellent pull - the only issue so far was with chain to rode splice, which occasionally slips on the gypsy when wet. Gotta go to the bow to take load off the chain while someone else cycles windlass (my windlass switch is on the wheel post). As dog said - this is not a great idea, if your hand gets caught in the chain, while the windlass is running. I have not been able to come up with better procedure yet, though.
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