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Discussion Starter #2
Even though I didn''t find anything in this thread it reminded me of a question that I have about wire halyard winchs. I sailed with one on an old classic sloop in years gone by. I now have a classic again and would like to find out if anyone knows any reason not to return to a wire halyard winch. I aleady know about the fact that as the halyard is raised the purchase gets weeker. This is because the wire winds around the winch and makes the drum larger. The winch handle also can be scary if you don''t keep a good grip on it. I really like the fact that you can wind the halyard up and it doesn''t end up on the deck or cockpit. A nice bronze wire winch looks good attached to the mast where the sail should be raised not from the cockpit where it takes a minimum of two people to do a simple single handed job.
I would just like to have some other input. I may be missing something.
 

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Suedebriar, I was looking for a wire halyard winch this month and got no responses on this net. If your boat is a classic and had wire winches to begin with try [email protected] I obtained 2 number 4 barlow wire winches and I know he has at least one Barient #3. Safe or un safe I really dont know my Cal 43 has had a wire main halyard winch for 30 years and it only had to be replaced when the base cracked. Classic boats need orginal gear
 

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Classic boats also often lacked lifelines- look at the pictures in the Rosenfield Collection at Mystic. Wire reel halyard winches - if that is what you''re discussing- are DANGEROUS, just like not having lifelines. Wrapping the wire on a tight radius where it can chafe against itself helps promote ''soldiers'' in the wire that cause painful and bloody cuts, because unless the wire is guided onto the reel by hand it bunches and gets kinked. The brake can be left off while hoisting, or released by accident so that the winch handle ''kicks'' back, surprising jaws or other bones to the breaking point. This can also bloody the nearby deck and/or sails. The brake is not easily controlled, so sailors are tempted to put the winch handle in before releasing it for a reef. This again leads to the ''surprised bone syndrome'' discussed above. A winch that is dangerous to start with means servicing it to keep it operating properly is all the more important, and it isn''t getting easier to get parts. Beyond the safety issue, all-wire halyards are also heavier, weaker, and more expensive than modern synthetic line. They don''t use them now for good reason. They didn''t have blowers in the ''good old days'', but you wouldn''t sail with a gas engine without one now. Rigging something different will provide one less thing to worry about when you''re sailing, and isn''t sailing all about leaving our worries behind?
 

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I am in the process of servicing my main halyard winch for the first time. I have broken it completely down and all of the parts including pawls, springs, gears and brake ring appear to be in fine condition. I suspect that (as with many other aspects of operating a good-sized boat) the relative safety of this device is more dependent on the user rather than just being "worthless" or "crap" as I have seen them described in other forums. This winch has been used many times to haul personnel (myself included) to the masthead with zero mishaps. I have replaced the halyard with a new length of 1/4" Krypton-D line and it seems thus far to be quite reliable. True, you gotta crank the sail all the way up but it only takes a few minutes and there are no line management issues. BTW the new line is very smooth and quiet rolling through the sheaves.
 

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How did you enjoy the ride down from the masthead using a wire-reel halyard winch? Easing off the brake to allow a controlled, slow descent must have been interesting for both of you. Using a synthetic line does avoid the problem with wire soldiers, but with at least one caveat: a weaknesses of many modern lines is that despite being very strong, they often do NOT like being turned over a short radius. The sharp bends tend to crack the fibers and can result in the line's breaking. We had this happen to us with a 1/2" kevlar genoa halyard parting where it went over the sheave in the mast. Depending upon the specific fiber being used, wrapping essentially half the halyard's length on a tight spool might shorten its expected lifespan considerably. Krypton-D line may avoid this problem by having a braided core, which would be less susceptible to the compression/elongation issues of going over a sheave than a parallel-fiber line. Dyneema (Spectra, et al) may also perform better in this application than Kevlar would. Raising and lowering the sail with a reel winch is still a hassle, however, and the winch handle/brake combination is still dangerous to use.
 

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The Lewmar winch I have has a very sturdy braking band and it allows for a nice, controlled descent if you keep it tight enough to maintain friction. As with any time you go aloft in a bosun's chair, you help the person winching by taking up your own weight when possible, and ALWAYS use an extra safety line. The Krypton-D rope has a very good bend radius and I would trust it both for its main purpose and also for the occasional person-lifting task. I concede that the casual user might very well get caught unawares and end up with an injury caused by the winch handle, but if you know the equipment and its possible hazards I maintain that it is safe.
 

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Though many I have spoken with feel wire winches to be quite dangerous (I saw no such danger when I sailed with them in the 60's and 70's??), with today's roller furling sails, I can't understand why the are not coming back into use. After all, it's not like we are putting our sails up and down very often (once or twice a year perhaps, to check things, for us) and I for one am sincerely tired of having a coil of line at each winch that is basically useless and a pain to keep looking shipshape.
We have two spinnaker halyards for getting aloft so that isn't a problem.
I have been unsuccessful in my search for a pair for the main and head sail, but should I find a pair of suitable size at a reasonable cost (they are not objects de art or collectable antiques for heaven's sake, they are obsolete boat gear), I'd grab them in a heart beat. Anyone got a pair?
 

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--- I can't understand why the are not coming back into use. After all, it's not like we are putting our sails up and down very often (once or twice a year perhaps, to check things, for us) ---
I guess if you have all roller furling that removes a lot of objections. I used to have wire winches on a boat years ago and once I learned to respect them they functioned ok, but I much prefer rope winches.
 

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I am interested in this discussion as I have a wire halyard winch on my centerboard.

I have yet to service it but it is a worry as I have no clue as to how it comes apart and am sure that spares are not available.

<table style="width:auto;"><tr><td><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/i7IidAUR32IahDEMWJ2zo9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-YoUbZiI-5kY/TDPReDBt9UI/AAAAAAAAC18/GkyKeIJxwAs/s144/Bequia%25202%2520013.JPG" height="144" width="96" /></a></td></tr><tr><td style="font-family:arial,sans-serif; font-size:11px; text-align:right">From <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/john.duncker/HootMon?authuser=0&feat=embedwebsite">Hoot Mon</a></td></tr></table>
 

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TQA - that looks like a real beast for sure. Technically, of course, it is not a halyard winch (unless the cable operating the centerboard is referred to as a halyard) but bear in mind that it is always under the load of whatever the weight of your centerboard is when it is being operated. Do you have a brake lever that you must tighten and loosen (or engage/disengage) to operate the winch? It looks like there is a gear reduction involved based on the location of the handle socket. You might try around the various sailing forums to see if you can locate a schematic if you can see a make and model number on it. Either way I would strongly recommend you find a sure way of taking the load off of it and making sure the centerboard is properly secured before you attempt to work on it.. Good luck!
 

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The brakes fail on them and the handle ends up bashing someones skull in. They are dangerous, and went extinct for good reason.They also make raising a sail, and reefing , painfully slow.
 

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One point in their favour - you can buy them REALLY cheap at consignment shops.

If you get a later model Barient or Barlow you don't have to worry about feeding the wire - they have enclosed reels. Maintenance is more important because there is a safety factor to consider with them. Keeping the brake band clean & free of oil or grease is critical to their proper functioning.
 

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I am in the process of servicing my main halyard winch for the first time. I have broken it completely down and all of the parts including pawls, springs, gears and brake ring appear to be in fine condition. I suspect that (as with many other aspects of operating a good-sized boat) the relative safety of this device is more dependent on the user rather than just being "worthless" or "crap" as I have seen them described in other forums. This winch has been used many times to haul personnel (myself included) to the masthead with zero mishaps. I have replaced the halyard with a new length of 1/4" Krypton-D line and it seems thus far to be quite reliable. True, you gotta crank the sail all the way up but it only takes a few minutes and there are no line management issues. BTW the new line is very smooth and quiet rolling through the sheaves.
I've documented my work on my mast and rigging for my Ericson 25 on the links provided below. When I bought the boat, it had a wire-to-rope halyard that had caused some serious scoring of my mast winch. Unpleased with this set-up, I converted to an all-rope halyard.

Regards,
Roscoe

The Ericson 25, a Trailerable Cruiser: Rigging - a Tutorial

The Ericson 25, a Trailerable Cruiser: Winch, Barlow 16 Top Action Ratchet

converting from wire-rope halyard to all-rope
 

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I sailed my first boat to New Zealand with an all rope halyard. It stretched every time I shook a reef out of it. It chafed thru and forced me to go aloft in a bosuns chair singlehanded at sea. Converted to wire in New Zealand and wouldn't consider anything else. I put a hard eye on the ends of the wire, and put the rope tail thru the eye, with a knot in the end of the rope , and made it just long enough so it ends just above the winch, making for no wire around the winch, only rope. I have thus had no need for a rope to wire splice. Works well.
 

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I am interested in this discussion as I have a wire halyard winch on my centerboard.

I have yet to service it but it is a worry as I have no clue as to how it comes apart and am sure that spares are not available.

<table style="width:auto;"><tr><td><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/i7IidAUR32IahDEMWJ2zo9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-YoUbZiI-5kY/TDPReDBt9UI/AAAAAAAAC18/GkyKeIJxwAs/s144/Bequia%25202%2520013.JPG" height="144" width="96" /></a></td></tr><tr><td style="font-family:arial,sans-serif; font-size:11px; text-align:right">From <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/john.duncker/HootMon?authuser=0&feat=embedwebsite">Hoot Mon</a></td></tr></table>
We have the same winch for our board as well. I'm not at all interested in trying to service it as I agree that parts are probably not available. I lubricate it periodically with PB Blaster and that seems to keep it working well. I do not believe it has a brake, only the reduction gear. Our board is somewhere around 2500# and the winch holds it fine in every condition we have so far encountered
The only saving grace is that should it be necessary to disassemble it, being bronze, with patience, heat and a touch of luck the job could be done without damaging anything.
You might want to get a cover for it?
 

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Because of the short travel distance and the lighter loads , a centreboatrd winch may be the only practical use for such a winch. Otherwise, their scrap bronze value may be greater than their use value.
 

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Brent, you should try some of the newer, low stretch ropes with cores of Dyneema or Spectra. They basically don't stretch until they are loaded to the breaking point.
 

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They are far less chafe resitant than wire. Dont like going aloft single handed in mid ocean, to replace chafed thru halyards.
 
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