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Old 16-09-2014, 13:02   #1
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Windlass Control Options

Hello All!
I have never had a powered anchor windlass. On our new boatbuild (Dix 43 Pilothouse)we have installed a 12v Maxwell RC12. It came with a free wireless remote (which I suspect will be of short life) and a manual up/ down switch for inside mounting.
My question to y'all is: Are deck mounted footswitches the way to go? If so, where should they be mounted: aft of the windlass? Probably. Close together or one to port and one to Sb?
Would a handheld wired remote be more useful? Seems like if one had to stand right at the bow roller to deal with something a handheld might be better... I am well aware of the dangers of getting tangled up in the chain with a powered windlass so standing fwd. of the windlass would be risky and to be avoided; still the occasion may arise.
I appreciate hearing from personal experiences with these types of controls.
Cheers
B
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Old 16-09-2014, 13:12   #2
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Re: Windlass Control Options

It took me only one or two ups and downs with helm mounted switches to decide to add footswitches on the bow. I pre wired for them so it wasn't much trouble to add them.

Put them wherever is convenient to use and to wire. I would put them near each other because sometimes when bringing the anchor up you have to let it back down a bit to rinse it or to clear the rode.
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Old 16-09-2014, 13:32   #3
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Hi Brian
I have enjoyed your building series. Great work

I am always reluctant to cut a hole in a good aluminium boat and the deck mounted foot switches are not very reliable. They are also a potential cause of stray current corrosion if when the rubber seal fails.

Wireless remotes are great. For things like Med-mooring they are almost essential if short handed. The only thing to check is some of them retrieve a reasonable amount of chain even with a brief click of the button. This makes it difficult and potentially dangerous to "park" the anchor on the bow roller unless you have the clutch adjusted just right.

As a back up I would have a cord remote in your forepeak. Industrial switch gear is cheaper and more reliable than marine units. (See the photo below) A couple of units are not a bad idea as nothing is truly reliable in the wet environment. There are also some very cheap wireless remotes on ebay that are an alternative back up.
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Old 16-09-2014, 13:56   #4
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Re: Windlass Control Options

I'm also against cutting holes in the deck. I have a controller on a wandering lead which I simply pass up through the hatch in the frd head. Lead is long enough to take it back to the cockpit but in the 12 years of mainly Med mooring ( two up) since fitting I have never felt the need to do that.
Just make sure you don't wind the lead into the gypsy.
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Old 16-09-2014, 16:02   #5
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Both cockpit and bow are needed, in my humble opinion. Cockpit, for powering up when working alone, and bow if you ever get a tangle or are working to recover a stuck anchor. A portable remote seems pointless, to me, but I have no expereince.

However, I do have one caution. I very nearly lost a finger, saved by heavy gloves that jammed the gypsy. I was squating near the windlass, reaching for something when a wake through me off balance and onto the windlass. My left hand went on the chain and my left knee onto the toe switch. I couldn't pull my hand (stuck) and I couldn't lift my knee (all of my weight was on it and I was jammed in an awkward corner) immediatly. Within a few moments I had my weight off the knee, but it seemed like an eternity. Fortunatly, the chain and gypsy just ground on the leather, but the lesson was stark; I had a very near miss. I've worked around heavy equipment pleanty--I just made a dumb mistake.

The leason is this; try to place the foot switch where you will not be thrown against it if kneeling. Better, perhaps out of reach, but I will listen to the comments of others. I've been temped to move mine; I'm ceraintly more aware of my body possition and never squat.
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Old 16-09-2014, 17:03   #6
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Re: Windlass Control Options

I can second Thinwater's caution about foot switches on the foredeck. If you go that way, be sure they are far enough from the windlass to avoid a similar accident as Thinwater experienced, but also put them far enough apart to minimize the possibility that you might step on both switches at the same time. That happened to me on the delivery of a large powerboat. When I was operating the windlass and had just broken loose the anchor, the wake from a passing boat caused me to move my feet to regain my balance. The result of stepping on both switches caused the windlass circuit breaker to trip and I had to return to the cabin and re-set the breaker. Because I was one of two crew on the delivery that didn't create a major problem, but if I had been alone in a crowded anchorage with a fresh breeze it might have been a bit more interesting.
Because of that experience, when I installed an electric windlass on my boat last year I elected to with two corded hand controls. One is normally connected in the cockpit and includes a chain counter (since I can't see the chain marks when deploying the anchor from the cockpit) and a simple up/down control on the foredeck.
Here's a link to the webpage I published on installing the windlass in general and the hand controls in particular (Installing a Quick Windlass)

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Old 16-09-2014, 17:20   #7
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
......
Wireless remotes are great.
.....
As a back up I would have a cord remote in your forepeak........ .
Big +1

Ive had a cheap garage door remote work fine for quite a few years now, very convenient.
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Old 17-09-2014, 13:04   #8
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Re: Windlass Control Options

We have a similar Maxwell Vertical windlass that I installed in 2006. As foot switches have proven unreliable due to weather exposures over the long term, I rely on a hand held controller that plugs into a weather proof fitting in the chain locker; and, a hand held "Quick" wireless controller I connect to my belt with a short lanyard when needed. Both continue to work well. Another option to the hand held is to install foot switches in a wedge shaped weather proof box with the control cable led to the same connector in the chain locker. With this one can have both hands free if necessary and yet not have the switches exposed to weather any longer than necessary.

FWIW...
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Old 17-09-2014, 14:20   #9
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
We have a similar Maxwell Vertical windlass that I installed in 2006. As foot switches have proven unreliable due to weather exposures over the long term, I rely on a hand held controller that plugs into a weather proof fitting in the chain locker; and, a hand held "Quick" wireless controller I connect to my belt with a short lanyard when needed. Both continue to work well. Another option to the hand held is to install foot switches in a wedge shaped weather proof box with the control cable led to the same connector in the chain locker. With this one can have both hands free if necessary and yet not have the switches exposed to weather any longer than necessary.

FWIW...
I don't know what sort of foot switches you have but mine have individual covers and have a rubber membrane over the actual switch. They seem to be working just fine after several years.
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Old 17-09-2014, 14:33   #10
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Re: Windlass Control Options

My experience with the Vetus foot switches is they do just fine playing submarine, until UV gets the membrane in about 10-12 years, and then they are toast. When you see the first crack, replace them both. Easy enough, just leave a little wire so that crimping new ends is simple.
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Old 17-09-2014, 14:43   #11
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Hi Brian
I have enjoyed your building series. Great work

I am always reluctant to cut a hole in a good aluminium boat and the deck mounted foot switches are not very reliable. They are also a potential cause of stray current corrosion if when the rubber seal fails.

Wireless remotes are great. For things like Med-mooring they are almost essential if short handed. The only thing to check is some of them retrieve a reasonable amount of chain even with a brief click of the button. This makes it difficult and potentially dangerous to "park" the anchor on the bow roller unless you have the clutch adjusted just right.

As a back up I would have a cord remote in your forepeak. Industrial switch gear is cheaper and more reliable than marine units. (See the photo below) A couple of units are not a bad idea as nothing is truly reliable in the wet environment. There are also some very cheap wireless remotes on ebay that are an alternative back up.
I did this same thing with a crane switch bought from Graingers. it was my main method not backup. It worked great and allowed you to move around on the bow (hosing off the chain etc) and not having to stand in one place and use the footswitch. It's a great way to go.
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Old 17-09-2014, 15:13   #12
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Thanks for the anecdotes-I'm getting the distinct impression that a hand control is more versatile, and possibly safer. I have found a decent looking pendant control on ebay for around 30.00 (including shipping). My industrial catalogs have them from 100-500.00, and the Maxwell is around 200. The Maxwell has a socket and plug arrangement, which I don't need, as I can place the control in the anchor locker in a secure position and then pull it out when needed. The anchor locker, by the way, is huge, I can stand upright in it, and there is a watertight hatch through the WT bulkhead into the fwd. cabin. I would imagine that I will keep the deck hatch into the locker open while deploying and retrieving the anchor so as to keep an eye on the pile. I'm installing a washdown fitting on the foredeck as well, one of those NFM flush twist-lock connectors. So not having more stuff on the deck up there is probably a plus. And, if we decide that deck switches would be useful the holesaw is always handy! Thanks again for helping me to think this through. What I lack in experience I make up for with imagination! (hmmmm....)

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Old 17-09-2014, 17:07   #13
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Re: Windlass Control Options

I have lewmar foot switches. They are original - 16 years old now - and still work and look just fine. never any leaks and never any stray current.

I also have an up/down switch back at the helm. I never used it when we were sailing double handed, but past couple years single handing I use it to drop the anchor. I still use the bow foot switches to raise the anchor. It is original also.

I personally don't like wireless controls (for anything), because their battery always seem to die just when I need them. I suppose that's my fault - not systematic about charging them.

Nice looking boat!
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Old 17-09-2014, 17:40   #14
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Re: Windlass Control Options

Don't laugh, these are brilliant provided you already have a solenoid with the winch:

50ft Wireless Winch Remote Control Switch Handset Kit for Jeep ATV SUV UTV 12V | eBay

I had a winch on my previous boat that I installed and never installed the supplied panel switch. Instead I added this wireless control and made up a hand pendant control with a socket at the helm and fore berth (passing the lead up through the front hatch). In all the time I owned the boat, I never once used anything other than the wireless control. By buying the pair combination, I always had a spare although I never needed to use it. The one modification I made to the controls was to coat the circuit boards of the remotes with polyurethane to prevent corrosion (one screw and easy to do). For the price I would highly recommend them. Another advantage, if you can swing a soldering iron, is that replacement remotes can be purchased for a few dollars and are "programmed" to frequency by soldering the pins of the IC on the circuit board to either on or off pads.
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Old 18-09-2014, 02:10   #15
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Re: Windlass Control Options

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Don't laugh, these are brilliant provided you already have a solenoid with the winch:

50ft Wireless Winch Remote Control Switch Handset Kit for Jeep ATV SUV UTV 12V | eBay
We've renewed our windlass this year and have gone from a foot switch to a hand held corded switch. It took a bit of getting used to! However we've just fitted the remote switch in the link above. It works well and gives us more options when med mooring (very useful as we have a centre cockpit and usually only two of us on board).

The only issue we've had is that the switch tends to allow a small amount of over running when you release the button. It's only a problem when bringing the anchor up into the roller, initially we jammed it a few times but we've got use to it now.
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