Servicing Winches

WinchBefore
Starboard jib sheet winch on Zia, a Lewmar 44ST self-tailing winch

Winches are quite important on sailboats, but they seem to be often neglected. <sniff>

When I ask around my sailing buddies & boat owners,  winch maintenance seems to be a mixed bag.  I had a couple of long-time boat owners tell me they didn’t realize they were supposed to service their winches, and at the other end of the spectrum there are OCD sailboat racers who do it before every race.

After taking our winches apart, I’m pretty sure Zia’s last previous owner fell into the former category.  I think it’s been at least 8 years since they were serviced.

There was either no lubrication or a thick, gritty, black goo that had no resemblance to the light grease recommended by Lewmar.  There were also two broken ‘prawls’, which are the little teeth that stop a winch from spinning in the wrong direction.

We’ve decided that we’ll be servicing the winches on Zia annually, probably in the winter.

On the Lewmar 44 ST, after removing the 4 hex bolts, you need to remove these circlips, then the outter drum lifts off
The only tricky part of taking apart  the Lewmar 44 ST:  after removing the 4 hex bolts on top, you need to remove these Colletts, then the outter drum lifts off

On Zia (Morgan 384) we have the following winches, all circa 1982:

  • 2 each, Lewmar 44ST for jib sheets
  • 1 each, Lewmar 16ST for main sheet
  • 1 each, Lewmar 8C single speed on starboard side of mast for halyards
  • 1 each, Lewmar 16C single speed on port side of mast for halyards
Lewmar 44ST partially disassembled. You can start to see the goo. After those hex bolts are removed the entire unit lifts off, leaving only the bottom plate with the big slotted screws.
Lewmar 44ST partially disassembled. You can start to see the goo. After those hex bolts are removed the entire unit lifts off, leaving only the bottom plate with the big slotted screws.

 

When the 44ST is fully disassembled, only the base plate remains.
When the 44ST is fully disassembled, only the base plate remains.
When the #8 and #16 winches are fully disassembled, the post is still on the plate.
When the #8 and #16 winches are fully disassembled, the post is still on the plate.

 It is pretty chilly out, so I put each of the disassembled winches in a bucket and brought them home to clean.

There was a thick black, gritty goo coating everything.  To remove it, I poured minieral spirits (from Lowes) in the bucket and let things soak to soften them up.

Then I used a nylon brush (from Lowes) and mineral spirits, and lots of those tough blue paper towels (from Lowes) to clean each part individually.

WinchCleaning

I bought Lewmar Gear Grease and RaceLube (oil).  In a nutshell,  after cleaning everything, you are supposed to lightly brush Gear Grease on the bearings and gears, and use only oil on the prawls.  No grease on the pawls.

Our port jib winch had two broken prawls, which I replaced with new ones.  I also replaced all of the springs on all of the prawls.  There appeared to be some old grease on the prawls, and I reckon this might have been a factor in the breaking of the prawls.

Here are some excellent videos about servicing winches made by Lewmar featuring the talented and fascinating Lia Ditton.   Oh yeah, Roland is probably fascinating too.

[youtube id=WZr_NuCmB64 width=”560″ height=”315″]

[youtube id= r3Co76KqF-4 ]

 

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