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Old 06-04-2009, 11:09   #1
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Windlass clutch lubrication

A recent comment by Nick of Jedi reminded me of an ongoing situation that I've encountered...

With my last 3 Maxwell windlasses -- one manual, one 1200 lb vertical and one 1500 lb vertical -- the instructions say to lubricate the clutch cones with various sorts of greases. My invariable experience so far has been that if I do not do this, the clutch will seize up and not want to release on demand. But, if I do lube it, it slips under load no matter how tight I set it up!

I wonder if anyone else has this problem, and if there is some nuance in the process that is escaping me ... it seems so bloody simple!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 06-04-2009, 16:43   #2
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I use an ordinary HP automotive grease - just a light smear (I use the same in winches as well).

It does sometimes result in the clutch needing to be quite tight to stop slipping under high loads but that only for the first couple of trips up and down after greasing. But is not a problem because for its own good I never let the windlass hold against anything other than light loads.

In my experience it takes a long period (order of weeks) of having the clutch done up very tight for the cones to jamb into the chainwheel. If it does happen I always find that loosening the clutch off and operating the windlass with the anchor hard up in the bow roller breaks the cones free of the chainwheel. But that is an infrequent occurance as when not in use I just lightly tighten the clutch and restrain the anchor on the roller with a strop back to the toe rail (which should be done for safety even if the clutch is done up tight).
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Old 07-04-2009, 15:34   #3
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Just a simple case of too much grease I think Jim. They only need a very small smear rather than a big dollop.

Greasing the cones (clutch) is a good idea. The number we have had to completely strip and get into with big tools to free the cones has been quite a bit. Usually no damage has happened but a couple of hours labour does cost when it doesn't need too for the sake of a small grease.

ML1 is lucky to go boating a lot so his more useage will keep things free longer. When a winch sits for a while that's when the problems get worse.
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Old 07-04-2009, 16:05   #4
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I had a similar experience with the Maxwell. I suspect you need to clean and lubricate regularly.
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Old 07-04-2009, 16:23   #5
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It applies to everyone winches, not just Maxwell. They all generally use the identical system. If anything we see more with Lofrans but that really is more 'Lofrans users'.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:54   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
I had a similar experience with the Maxwell. I suspect you need to clean and lubricate regularly.
As far as I have experienced what is important is that one doesn't leave the clutch screwed up tight unused for too long. For days seems to be ok, for months or even just weeks one is heading for trouble. But in the end, if the windlass is left with the clutch screwed up tight the cones will jamb. An annual clean and grease seems plenty for the cones and I think, from memory, that is what Maxwell recommend.

This cause could lead to the problem being more common on powered up and down windlasses where it is more likely that the clutch is left screwed up tight most of the time, rather than on regularly used free fall windlasses - but that is just a guess on my part.
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