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Old 12-03-2014, 17:24   #1
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Winch overhaul

I'm about to start servicing all my winches on board. They sound dry, Barbarossa winches mainly. I don't believe that I have to buy special 'winch' grease for them. Any suggestions on a general grease I can use.

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Old 12-03-2014, 17:39   #2
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Re: Winch overhaul

Lewmar markets an expensive grease. The marine stores also sell expensive stuff.

I use a low viscosity EP wheel bearing grease. Winches are so over-built relative tothe loads most of us apply - especially the older ones. I rebuilt all 17 on our boat when we bought it. They had not been well serviced in 30 years. Lewmars from 30 to 65. All old dry grease and lots of dirt. I removed them and disassembled each into a 5-gallon pale. Took lots of photos of the big ones so there would be no re-assembly mistakes. Each pile of parts spent a day in the soak tank in the shop where I work. You can have this done at an auto machine shop or just use mineral spirits. Use a tooth brush, rubber gloves, and dry the clean parts with rags. Do not over-grease as this will make the action sluggish. Especially go light on the pawls. Each winch left about 2 tablespoons of insoluble hard particles. I found an on line site for a few replacement parts such as pawls & springs. Some parts were obsolete & unavailable so I made replacements in the shop. Its nice to have a machine shop. Afterwards, We re-bedded all. Many cabin top leaks were fixed.

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Old 12-03-2014, 17:49   #3
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Re: Winch overhaul

I find it is better to use a light non-water soluble grease than the grease typically recommended by winch manufacturers. It will wash away quicker, but does not get filled up with salt and other particles as quickly. You will have to service the winches more often, but the service time is dramatically reduced by not having to spend as much time removing the old heavy grease. The other advantage is that they will work with much less friction than one loaded up with thick gummy grease.

Once you are practiced with how your winches are assembled, you can take them apart, clean them with some diesel fuel, re lube them and have them back together in about 20 minutes per winch.
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Old 13-03-2014, 08:49   #4
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Re: Winch overhaul

thanks guys! Looked on the harken website and thought ' I'm not bloody paying that for grease!' nicholason58...I'm very jealous of your access to a machine shop!!
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Old 13-03-2014, 09:02   #5
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Re: Winch overhaul

All excellent advice!!!

I use the "blue marine" grease for no particular reason... Go light as suggested...

LOTS of pics as suggested... And also maybe do 1 at a time with the drum off the other til you get the hang of it...

Diesel works great for soaking/degreasing too...
In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair...

Mai Tai's fix everything...
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Old 13-03-2014, 11:17   #6
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Re: Winch overhaul


I used to use Lewmar grease but the Superlube is a bit lighter viscosity, runs smoother, and lasts well between servicing every year or two. Go light with it, just brushing it on mating parts, and machine oil instead of grease on the pawls.

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