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Old 15-10-2017, 12:33   #1
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New Windlass - Questions

I am starting to look at replacing our windlass after an Albanian ferry snagged our anchor and pulled over 100 feet of chain through it. It is an old Lofrans and if the damage is too extensive, I will probably just replace it.

Meantime, I have two questions. First, many of the new models have some means installed to keep track of how much chain is lowered or raised. In practice, how well does this work? If you use gravity to rapidly drop the anchor and electrical power to raise it, does the counter do a good job of keeping track of the amount of chain? I guess the biggest issue would be making sure the chain doesn't jump off the gypsy, but are there other issues?

Second, the method most of the windlass vendors use to size a windlass seems flawed to me. They instruct you to add the weight of the anchor and rode and then multiply by some factor to come up with the maximum pulling power required by the windlass. We have 280 feet of 1/2" chain, which is quite heavy. However, I guarantee you that I will not be anchoring in 280 feet of water, so the windlass will never be trying to raise that weight. Using this method, a smaller windlass would be sufficient if I had 200 feet of chain. To me, this is crazy. Seems like it would be more reasonable to do this calculation based on the deepest water that we would reasonably anchor in, perhaps 100 feet.

Understand, I'm not trying to cheap out on the windlass sizing, but I am also well aware of the possible results of oversizing equipment based on unreasonable safety factors.

Cheers!

Steve
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Old 15-10-2017, 14:25   #2
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Steve, this may be cynical, but I kinda suspect that the maximum load ratings that are published are determined more by the marketing department than the engineering department. Example: I replaced a Maxwell VWC1200 (which fell apart from dissimilar metal corrosion) with a Maxwell VWC1500. The numbers in the model nomenclature represented the max pulling power, right? But upon inspection, they had the same motors and the same gearboxes, yet the new one had somehow gained 25% in power. Pretty doubtful IMO! And in practice, there was no noticeable difference in their performance (other than they had slightly redesigned the spurling pipe, and the chain jammed more frequently in the new one).

So, my thought is that they know that as installed, their windlasses will not meet their specs, and perhaps by a large margin. They know that folks will bitch if they can't get their gear up, and the "fix" is the three times the total weight advice that is so confusing to us. Shabby practice...

At any rate, if I were to now spec a new windlass, i'd go up one size. Wear and tear on the gearbox (the most delicate part of the system) will be less in normal usage, and having the extra grunt can be useful when the hook gets fouled.

I can't comment about the accuracy of the chain counters, for I don't have one. But, if you ever want to be able to do remote windlass operation (useful for single handed anchor drill) the counter would be very helpful. I wouldn't mind having both the remote and the counter for my own use.

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Old 15-10-2017, 14:49   #3
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Thanks, Jim

Yeah, I'll be sure and buy a windlass plenty powerful for our boat. The manufacturer's specs do seem to be optimistic to me. Searching on past threads on this topic, I noticed other posters over the years have made this same observation. The 25% magical increase in "maximum pulling power" is hard to explain, though!

The limiting factor for me is that we have 1/2 inch chain, and I don't want to replace it. At least from the websites, any windlass that is offered with a 1/2 inch gypsy is a pretty big unit with a 1200 to 1700 Watt motor. So we are going to wind up with a hefty windlass just based on the chain size.

The Maxwell is one of the units I'm considering (the VWC3500). How has your 1500 held up?

Thanks!

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Old 15-10-2017, 16:34   #4
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Quote:
The Maxwell is one of the units I'm considering (the VWC3500). How has your 1500 held up?
Sadly, not as well as one might expect. The bronze main casting has a central core part which forms the transition piece to the gearbox. That part is aluminium, and the top portion has succumbed to galvanic corrosion. I attempted to buy a replacement part to be pressed into the casting and was rebuffed: not available, even though the exploded drawing in the manual listed a specific part number for it. Representative's suggestion was to buy a new windlass. Not amused.

Fortunately I had retained the old 1200 which had died in Vanuatu. When I returned to Oz I was able to purchase the bits needed to completely refurbish it. (This was in the good old days before Vetus acquired Maxwell, and they were far more responsive to requests for help and replacement parts). So, I put it back in service and retired the 1500. The 1200 soldiers on!

The use of aluminium parts in the windlasses was the cause of both failures. Windlasses are by their natures exposed to salt water immersion and it isn't practical to keep them from getting it into their innards. Corrosion is inevitable, and in the case of these two units, caused failure.

Another factor is for the VWC line, the manual backup system is pretty useless. In event of failure, a line with a chain hook lead to a winch is much quicker and much more powerful than the pitiful system offered by Maxwell. To be honest, I'm not familiar with the 3500, and it may be different throughout.

I'm not sure if I would buy another one. Before failure as described above, they worked well and were adequate to handle my 10 mm chain and 60 lb anchor. However, the failures and the cavalier attitude towards customer support/replacement parts might well send me off looking elsewhere.

Jim
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Old 15-10-2017, 18:10   #5
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Hmmm...gonna have to inspect my newish Maxwell a bit more closely now!

Otherwise Ive been very pleased with it.

Didnt get the chain counter option. I just guesstimate the amount of chain and eyeball the angle of the final scope. Usually in shallow clear water so thats easy to do.
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Old 15-10-2017, 18:35   #6
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

A remote by the way is mighty handy. I have a manual up/down switch at helm and a wireless remote. This way I can be on foredeck, or anywhere else, as needed.
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Old 15-10-2017, 18:40   #7
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Your avatar says you are in Surrey, BC. We have an older (1999) Muir Atlantic windlass on our PSC 40. Chromed bronze and a good windless. It broke the pawl retainer this summer and we had to get a new part. North West Marine Distributors in Aldergrove (Vancouver area) BC is the Canadian distributor. They no longer carried our model, but Stu Blair knew exactly what I needed and it was on the shelf. I had it shipped to me in 2 days. Excellent customer service. If this one ever dies, I'm buying another Muir for sure. Their phone number and website are below

North West Marine Distributors - Muir Windlasses -

Tel: (604) 607-7901

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Old 16-10-2017, 00:56   #8
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokeys Kitchen View Post
Your avatar says you are in Surrey, BC. We have an older (1999) Muir Atlantic windlass on our PSC 40. Chromed bronze and a good windless. It broke the pawl retainer this summer and we had to get a new part. North West Marine Distributors in Aldergrove (Vancouver area) BC is the Canadian distributor. They no longer carried our model, but Stu Blair knew exactly what I needed and it was on the shelf. I had it shipped to me in 2 days. Excellent customer service. If this one ever dies, I'm buying another Muir for sure. Their phone number and website are below

North West Marine Distributors - Muir Windlasses -

Tel: (604) 607-7901

Ron - "Just Lucky"
Thanks, Ron. Actually, our boat was built in Surrey, but we bought her in La Paz, Mexico and I am now in Sicily.

I appreciate you passing on your experience with the Muir. It is good to know you were able to get parts with good customer service. Their Storm 3500 is one of the models I am seriously considering.

Cheers!

Steve
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Old 16-10-2017, 02:40   #9
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

It is rare, but if you drag into deeper water, in some parts of the world the sea bed can drop away very rapidly and you can find yourself in over 100m of water.

It has certainly happened to me.

If this occurs and your windlass is too weak, you can try to motor and drag the anchor into shallower water, lift a section of chain and repeat, or try and use the sheet winches to take some of the load, but if you have dragged it will probably be windy and in deeper water rough so the above is at best not much fun, especially with the chain scraping on your bow.

An anchor windlass pulling power is usually rated at stall (so it is not retrieving anything) and at a high voltage, often 13.8v. At stall, drawing full current even with heavy wiring, the voltage will be much lower. Electric motor torque is dependent on voltage so the delivered force in reality is likely to be significantly less than specified. Then you need to consider that this is a brand new windlass so even if the manufacturer's specifications are genuine, in practice there will be much less lifting power.

The second part of the equation is friction on the bow roller etc. Especially if you have a small bow roller, once the force is changed by 90 there will be losses.

So the manufacturer's recommendations sound very conservative, but I don't think they are in practice.

The other factor to consider is that a larger windlass will be less stressed and probably be more reliable, as well as having some reserve power if you hook a mooring chain or another anchor.

So in short, it usually worth spending a bit more and buying a slightly bigger windlass.

With your chain I would be looking at one of 3500 lb models (which is generally the largest size that will operate on 12v). The best mainstream windlasses are Maxwell and Muir. Lighthouse are also worth considering,they are beautifully made, but they don't make many models and are expensive.

Installation is very important. Do everything you can to keep salt water away from the motor and gearbox.
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Old 16-10-2017, 04:35   #10
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

+1!
undersized & "sized according to manufacturer's specs" windlasses caused much, much more grief than oversized ones...
if it turns out you oversized: so what, the pain of the expense will be forgotten by then.
if it turns out you undersizes: the pleasure of saving will be forgotten by then too - only the pain in the...will be very acute!
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Old 16-10-2017, 09:04   #11
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
With your chain I would be looking at one of 3500 lb models (which is generally the largest size that will operate on 12v). The best mainstream windlasses are Maxwell and Muir. Lighthouse are also worth considering,they are beautifully made, but they don't make many models and are expensive.
Thanks, Noelex. The 3500 size is what I have been looking at (see posts 3 and 8 above). Both for the size of my chain and what I believe will meet my needs with respect to pulling power.

Good observations as to losses from friction at the bow roller, etc. I guess this is all part of the multiplier that each manufacturer instructs you to use when adding up the weight of the anchor and rode.

From what I can see on the internet, Lighthouse only makes horizontal windlasses. If that is the case, it removes them from consideration. I have heard very good things about them, but I want a vertical windlass.

At present I like the Muir, but am still doing my research.

Cheers!

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Old 16-10-2017, 09:54   #12
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

You might look at IDEAL WINDLASS,s. They tend to under rate their sizes (not over rate) and they are very reliable, but also very pricey. They have been making windlass,s since WW2. Just a suggestion. ______Grant.
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Old 16-10-2017, 10:10   #13
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

Steve, we had our Lofrans fail in the gearbox last year. Vendor could not believe it and listened to it on the fone to be sure we were on the same page. As it was an original install on our 1990 GB, we elected to replace with the same unit. Cheap? No. Same rugged construction as the original - yes, plus a better cover in the aluminum over the painted original. Very happy with the unit.
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Old 16-10-2017, 10:10   #14
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

I have a Lighthouse 1500 with a slight leak on it I'd sell you but it is horizontal, which I think all Lighthouses are.

I have had great luck with Lofrans windlasses. They have a large range and an excellent reputation. They are also made in Italy and you might have them look at your damaged one. With 1/2" chain you certainly want more than a 1500 or 2000. This is one piece of equipment you want to work when you need it.
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Old 16-10-2017, 10:11   #15
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Re: New Windlass - Questions

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From what I can see on the internet, Lighthouse only makes horizontal windlasses. If that is the case, it removes them from consideration. I have heard very good things about them, but I want a vertical windlass.
I have only seen a few Lighthouse windlasses, and yes they have all been horizontal although I believe they will custom produce anything to order.

BTW if fitting a bigger anchor winch, don't underestimate the size increase. Measure and check you have room.

I replaced the anchor winch on our old boat with a Muir 3500 so I am familiar with the overall size. I specified the next size up, a 4000lb model, for new boat (this time a Maxwell). I was surprised how much bigger the 4000 model was over the previous 3500, for only, on paper, 500lbs more lift, although the manufacturer's specifications, when considering different brands, are not necessarily directly comparable.


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