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Old 16-08-2016, 15:58   #1
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Servicing Winches - Frequency?

How often do you service winches and do you do so it based on time or use?

e.g I have a winch that I almost never use as it is the one for the jib which is on the roller furler and a have my primary winches which I use all the time.

Thoughts?
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Old 16-08-2016, 16:49   #2
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

So, use it and see if it's rough, stiff, noisy, slips, or otherwise indicative of needing disassembly and new grease. Parts tend to complain when they've been ignored too long.
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Old 16-08-2016, 17:03   #3
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

Using the google custom search at the top of the page.

How Often Do You Service Your Winches?
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Old 16-08-2016, 17:26   #4
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

Winch servicing is not so much connected with use as with how much salt water lands on top of them. If you use the boat lightly you could probably grease every second year and oil the pawls every six months. If the primaries get heavy use their pawls might need oiling every 3 months.

You can see when the grease gets damaged by salt. It goes stiff and dry.
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Old 16-08-2016, 17:30   #5
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
So, use it and see if it's rough, stiff, noisy, slips, or otherwise indicative of needing disassembly and new grease. Parts tend to complain when they've been ignored too long.
Absolutely right, my wenches tend to complain when they haven't be serviced in a while. Flowers, a bottle of wine, dinner out occasionally tend to keep the noise down and any roughness away. Applying before the wench starts to make noise is key for smooth-running ship, though. You'll have to determine your own schedule, depending on age and amount of prior use, your wench may need more or less frequent servicing than others, each one is unique.
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Old 17-08-2016, 09:23   #6
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

Oil on the pawls? Everything I've read says just clean them so they don't attract & retain contaminants. I try & break them down every Spring, but I'm just cruising & lightly at that.
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Old 17-08-2016, 09:30   #7
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

Time. Salt, water, dust wash into the winch. Probably better if it IS used than not.
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Old 17-08-2016, 09:35   #8
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

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Oil on the pawls? Everything I've read says just clean them so they don't attract & retain contaminants. I try & break them down every Spring, but I'm just cruising & lightly at that.
You should put a few drops of machine oil on the pawls every 3 - 6 months. Maybe once a year if you don't use the boat much.
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Old 17-08-2016, 09:54   #9
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

I'm not recommending this servicing prriod as ideal, but I have just stripped down, cleaned, oiled and greased my main Anderson winches for the second time in 13 years. I feel very guilty.
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Old 17-08-2016, 10:16   #10
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

My guess is the respondents are the more maintenance-intensive that average. I would offer a bet that the average time between service for winches is closer to 10 years. I have also torn down many winches that were at 5-10 years on lightly used boats and they were still reasonably well lubed and without wear. But surely this depends on use, temperature, and whether the winches see a lot of salt (some boats are drier than others).

I imagine the lubricant products also make a huge difference. I've been doing some product testing for an up-coming article and the differences in corrosion protection and oxidation stability are startling to say the least. The number 2 product came from an autoparts store and was 1/8th the price of winch lubes. (Do you really believe winch lubes were developed for winches? Obviously billions have been spent developing vehicle and industrial lubes.) There is no question that some products will last 2-5 times longer than others.

It also strike me interesting that annual lube has been suggested for 30 years at least, while at the same time lube intervals for everything else have tripled. Could it be that winches use the same lubes they always did? I doubt that, as they all use synthetics now and I doubt they did before 30 years ago. Thus, is it plausible that annual lube is simply conservative advise?

As for machine oil, that has always struck me as a little light and poorly suited to a marine environment. In the days of conventional oils and grease there was a concern that the material would get gummy over time and things could stick, but with synthetics this has largely retreated to myth. I will have to investigate pawl oils in a follow-up.
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Old 17-08-2016, 11:06   #11
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

Much of the service period too will depend on the staying power of the lube, in conjunction with the winches use, along with environmental factors. As in serious racing programs, the primary lube is going to be much less viscous than what a cruiser would use. And be applied in lesser quantities. So that with those two things, more of the energy input goes into pulling in lines, vs. fighting the friction generated by the lube.

The environmental factors isn't just the winches exposure to salt water, but also how much dust & other grit is in the air, & makes it's way into the winches. As well as how hot it is, & the heat's affect on the lubricant. Higher temps tending to break things down, and also to thin them enough so that they'll slide out of where you need them to be.

And obviously, the higher performance (type) the winch is, & the more severe duty it sees, the higher the maintenance it'll requires. Just as with cars. With race & rally cars needing Lots of TLC. And a winch is a gearbox & transmission.



One caution on lubes, be sure that what you're using makes sense/is okay to use. As some lubricants are very conductive, or have "ingredients" which are very noble. Like the Moly in Never Seize. And you don't want to turn a winch into a bigger battery than it already is, nor puddle or embrittle it's plastic parts.

Also, when you strip your winches down for cleaning, ensure that the drain holes in the bases are clear & working. As the underside of the bases is one of the top places for corrosion onboard, especially if they're aluminum.
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Old 17-08-2016, 11:12   #12
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roniszoro View Post
How often do you service winches and do you do so it based on time or use?

Thoughts?
As often as she'll let me......................

you know someone was going to say it!
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Old 17-08-2016, 11:27   #13
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
Also, when you strip your winches down for cleaning, ensure that the drain holes in the bases are clear & working. As the underside of the bases is one of the top places for corrosion onboard, especially if they're aluminum.

Good point. Often these groves are filled with bedding compound.

I wonder what the effect of covers is on winches? I use covers based primarily on UV vs. plastic parts.
  • Less UV on the plastic bits.
  • No rain to washer the grease out.
  • No rain to wash the salt out. But on my boat the winches never see much salt spray (high cockpit, big hard top).
  • Slower to dry.
Re. galvanic corrosion, does it make sense to recoat ALL surfaces with something like Corrosion Block spray? Area = amps, and I'm guessing that corrosion is a major contributor to what looks like mechanical wear; even trace corrosion greatly weakens the surface and provides grit--after all, boats don't really see much grit in a marine environment, since there is no road dust.
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Old 17-08-2016, 11:29   #14
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

I've had my 47 year boat ten years now and I've not had any of them apart yet. I ought to think about doing that. Item 947 on the list.
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Old 17-08-2016, 12:02   #15
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Re: Servicing Winches - Frequency?

If you have aluminum drums be sure to coat the inside with grease. When they seize up it is a bear.

My prior boat had 30 year old Lewmar 3 speeds that were spotless inside - no sign of grease anywhere.

My current boat's winches were so neglected that that the mainsheet winch only worked in one direction. I tore down it and the primaries. The spinnaker winches settled for a shot of PB Blaster and new grease. The mast mounted winches won't get done until the rig is pulled this winter. I sspect the PO did nothing in the 7 years he woned the boat.
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