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Old 24-03-2010, 18:22   #1
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Question About Winch Lubrication

The winches on my boat are getting hard to turn, so I took the drums off to clean and lube. The problem is I don't know what to lubricate them with. The drum is metal, but the part the drum rides on is some sort of composite or plastic, there are no bearings. What would you suggest?
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Old 24-03-2010, 18:24   #2
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Any waterproof boat trailer wheel bearing type grease will do just fine
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Old 24-03-2010, 18:25   #3
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P.S. Winches should be cleaned and lubed at least once a year
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Old 24-03-2010, 18:49   #4
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I seem to recall that Lewmar recommends that they be lubed TWICE a season(!) I use Lewmar winch grease, but probably any wheel bearing grease from an auto parts supplier would suffice.
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Old 24-03-2010, 18:57   #5
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Be careful about the type of grease you use. I had a barlow winch once with the drum turning on a plastic spindle. I don't remember the kind of grease I used, but the end result was the plastic spindle swelled up in diameter and became impossible to turn. Ever since I've avoided this kind of winch.
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Old 24-03-2010, 19:51   #6
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Use a grease designed for winches. It isn't that expensive, and winches are. Especially when you look into the expense or time to install them.

Yes, the recommendation is once a year. A 5 gallon pickle bucket, a gallon of paint thinner, some rags and a toothbrush make quick work of it.
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Old 24-03-2010, 20:11   #7
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Well, I can simply say that I am a real fan of wench lubricants. Years ago I assumed they were all self-lubricating, but these days I know better, and believe in the liberal use of lubricants.
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Old 24-03-2010, 21:17   #8
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Thanks for the responses, I looked at the defender website at Harken winch grease and it said:

HarkenŽ winch grease is a non-aging, high-adhesive synthetic lubricant. It is resistant to both salt and fresh water and protects metal gears, roller bearings, and all moving winch parts from corrosion and wear. Note: Do not grease pawls, plastic rollers, or balls.

The spindle of my winch is plastic, so that is the reason for my concern. Lewmar winch lube does not mention anything about plastic, but it apears to be more of an oil rather than grease.

So I am still a little confused. What Ziggy said above is my fear.
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Old 25-03-2010, 01:17   #9
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It is important to not overdo the winch grease

Apply winch grease sparingly. It is much more important to clean & lubricate your winches AT LEAST once a year and more often if they are getting a lot of use. Only apply light machine oil or lanolin oil to the pawl springs. If you use grease they will jam up.

FWIW I made a word document giving instructions & photos for disassembling and cleaning a 2 speed Harken (46ST) winch. The basics apply to other winch brands. As it is 217 mb in size, I don't think I can upload it to the site. PM if you want a copy. OR does anyone know how I can upload such a big file??

Before you start pulling apart your winches make sure you download an exploded parts diagram from the manufacturers site or off CF's great manual site (thanks Gord). It is helpful to photograph all the disassembly steps as well and store for future reference.

Have fun with your preventative boat maintenance in exotic locations.
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Old 25-03-2010, 05:49   #10
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Ready2go,
If the winch manufacturer is still in business, why not ask them? Even if it isn't, you could still contact Lewmar and ask them about greasing the plastic spindle winches (#6 & #7). I suspect similar plastic may be used in all of them.

BTW, Lewmar winch lube is a grease, not oil.
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