SailNet Community banner
1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,832 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I posted recently about two new (to me) winches that I planned on adding to the doghouse. I thought it pertinent to pull the winches that were on the boat for maintenance. What I found was not pleasant. It looks like the PO used bearing grease in the originals, and they are completely gummed up.

Question: What can I use to clean/remove all this grease? I don't yet know if these are even salvageable until I get all this 30 year old grease off.

 

·
Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
Joined
·
4,525 Posts
From the picture I can't see any reason why they cannot be used again. Better to see lots of grease in them rather than none. You can clean them up with a bunch of paper towels and some solvent (whatever you have or this is cheap to buy. I would do one at a time so you can use the other as a model for reassembly. Take them apart - just looks like pawls and one or two roller bearings for each. Be careful with the springs on the pawls, when you take them out they have a tendency to shoot all over. Since they are all greasy best to avoid the mess. Clean off as much of the old goop as possible with paper towels and then wipe, or soak everything in solvent and then more paper towels until they are clean and you can't feel any grit when you roll the bearings. Also clean the inside of the winch drum. When everything is nice and clean lube the bearings with winch grease and the pawls with oil only and reassemble. On some winches the winch springs have different shapes on either leg. If you have these make sure they go back the right way. On other winches it does not matter which leg goes where.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,262 Posts
Actually I have seen worse. The easy way is to soda blast the inside clean which will take a few minutes but requires the right equipment. The normal way is to grab some kerosene, rags, and a brush and go at it. It will take a while but isn't hard.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,446 Posts
We used to see bicycle free wheels that looked like that. We had a parts washer in which we used a citrus based solvent. We used a citrus based solvent because it really worked dissolving old grease, was water soluble, had a nice smell and was not flammable.
John
 

·
Member
Joined
·
599 Posts
I use mineral spirits. Kerosene and diesel work well, but my local hardware store just had mineral spirits. An old toothbrush is useful, as is a wooden popsicle stick for getting in to the gears. Careful with the toothbrush - they splash!

You can never be sure from photos, but I have seen and cleaned much worse, and put 'em back into service. They look fine. Remember, grease the gearing - but oil the pawls. Grease on pawls make them stick. Which would be bad.
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
those are fine...the key is to male sure the pawls dont stick from the old grease and that you respring them or rextend them if you will

I just did all my winches the quick and easy way basically with a solvent soaked rag and a screwdriver scraping off all the old dried grease

I used a lithium based waterproof grease that I used on my motorcycle and works great

again the key is getting the bearing races free and clean as well as the pawls...as well as the gears
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,063 Posts
Question: What can I use to clean/remove all this grease? I don't yet know if these are even salvageable until I get all this 30 year old grease off.
eric-
If you visit the blog sundownersailsagain.com (restoration of a Westsail 32) Tate just posted a detailed discussion including a video of maintenance on a set of Lewmar 43s...and included a link to mainesail's excellent tutorial on servicing winches. Both are detailed visual guides to servicing winches including cleaning.

Good luck. (Mineral oil...odorless and effective.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: ericb760

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,832 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
eric-
If you visit the blog sundownersailsagain.com (restoration of a Westsail 32) Tate just posted a detailed discussion including a video of maintenance on a set of Lewmar 43s...and included a link to mainesail's excellent tutorial on servicing winches. Both are detailed visual guides to servicing winches including cleaning.

Good luck. (Mineral oil...odorless and effective.)
Thank you, I'll check it out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Brake clean is nice but sure is horrid on the hands and any gloves you try to wear. Then it splashes into your face and it burns on a nice hot day.

I am all for gas, diesel, or kerosene with a tooth brush. Let soak a day to rehydrate and losen up the grease. Its just bearing grease.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,832 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
UPDATE: This was the first level of cleaning with brake cleaner and a roll of paper towels:


This was as clean as I could get the bearings with the cleaner and a toothbrush. All the bearings are spinning freely but they are still quite dirty. Can I use a wire brush to clean the rest of the gunk off?


And finally, two of the four pawls seem to have been worn away on one side. The two on the right were from one side of the winch. I'm assuming that this is not normal and that they will need to be replaced. Can someone confirm this?
 

·
Senior Moment Member
Joined
·
13,300 Posts
Replace the pawls - springs too probably. Use a brass brush on the roller bearings - they must be bright & shiny - keep working until they are.

Try soaking them overnight or longer in brake cleaner.

Polish up the races inside the drums with some 1000 grit and WD40 or kerosene.
 

·
Registered
Corsair 24
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
I cant remeber how mine looked...but Im almost sure they were flat all around...

I just rebent the springs out a bit and that will give them more resistance...I usually do that on all mechanical engine springs and the like...

or just buy new ones since you are getting new pawls...

I would soak those races and then mechanically clean them up and or polish

looking good btw...

those winches will be back in business in no time...
 
  • Like
Reactions: ericb760

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
I've used kerosene, diesel, WD40, mineral spirits, alcohol, lacquer thinner, whatever is at hand. Mineral spirits would be my first choice though. I'll have to try some citrus solvent and see if that works as good, it's be nice to move away from petroleum solvents.

I've also wondered if Carb dip that comes in the 1 or 5 gallon cans wouldn't be an easy and effective way to clean them. I've used the carb dip to clean up some seriously gunked up carbs, leave it in over night pull out and rinse off and they look like new. It might be easier than going at them with tooth brushes. Just a thought.

I don't think you can blame or even guess as to what the last guy used. If it hasn't been done in 30 years any grease is going to get gunky after that long. Besides waterproof wheel bearing grease is probably a great option if not the same stuff you buy in the little tubes at 4 times the price at West Marine.
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top