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Old 03-09-2013, 06:36   #1
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Windlass Might Be Dying -- Need Help

Some background first, it is a Lofran Tigres our original anchor was 45# Delta with 200-feet of 3/8" galvanized chain.

In December, we upgraded the anchor to a 55# Spade anchor. In July we changed the chain to 250-feet of 3/8" stainless steel chain.

Everything was working until about 10-days ago. We were having trouble setting the anchor and dropped and pulled it up 3 times before we got it set. During the course of this the windless kept getting slower and slower until it finally stopped altogether. After a short break I was able to bring it the rest of the way up.

When we set it next we had no problems, but when we pulled it up we had the same problem. The best way to describe this is that it sounds like trying to start a car with a nearly dead battery. But the batteries were fully charged and the engine running.

We have checked the oil which was in good shape, but changed it anyway. Before we start tearing everything apart, has anyone had a similar problem or an idea of what the cause may be to give us a starting point?

Thanks,
Robyn
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:41   #2
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

The first thing to do is to check the voltage at the windlass with the windlass running.

Keep your fingers crossed that the voltage is low because these problems are cheap and easy to fix.
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Old 03-09-2013, 06:53   #3
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

Servicing a Lofrans Tigres windlass
Servicing your electric anchor windlass - Ocean Navigator - November/December 2010

And, you can go to the Lofrans website, which has all sorts of service manuals you can download
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Old 03-09-2013, 07:03   #4
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

no. the 1st thing to do is check the ground wire connections at both ends.
make sure you have no corrosion at either end of your wires leading to & from your winch.
0nce you have determined that your hook ups are satisfactory, then check your voltage while running the winch. If you experience a large voltage drop, chances are you have fried the motor and you will need a new one. Make sure your wire size is big enough to handle the load. make sure ALL your wire connections are clean and tight.
Dont use your windlass to break out the anchor. Use the engine and drive forward to break out the anchor. The windlass is only designed to lift the load of the anchor and its chain. When you are winding in the chain, dont keep on grinding untill it stops, take it in untill the boat is over the top of the anchor and use the boats motion to break out the anchor, then lift it.
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Old 03-09-2013, 07:22   #5
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

I had a similar problem and it turned out to be the carbon brushes were heating up and causing them to bind in there sleeve. When I opened the motor for inspection the bushes where stuck in place.

I carefully pried them out and sanded all the sides to give a bit more clearance and then the windless worked flawless for the next five years that I owned the 38 foot boat.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:29   #6
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

You might also check the resistance in the wires from the battery to the motor.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:32   #7
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

Quote:
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I had a similar problem and it turned out to be the carbon brushes were heating up and causing them to bind in there sleeve.
Same here. A new set of brushes solved the problem.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:47   #8
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

ditto . . . dirty brushes.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:59   #9
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Re: Windless Might Be Dying -- Need Help

An alternator shop can rebuild the electric motor for a pretty reasonable price. In your situation I would take the windlass apart and inspect everything in the windlass for broken parts etc. I wish I would have done this before having the motor worked on. When I took the windlass apart after sending the motor in to be fixed I found lots of cracked and broken parts. So many that it was more cost effective for me to buy a new windlass then to repair the old one.
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Old 06-09-2013, 04:40   #10
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A short update. First thanks to everyone who responded!

All electrical connections looked good, no corrosion at all. In our opinion, the wire is sized right, #2 wire I believe. We tested the voltage without the engine running and saw a drop to 11.6v while running the windless. We didn't feel this was a significant drop.

We had previously changed the oil, and as I mentioned, the old oil looked pretty good. But we put new in, worked it around, and changed it again.

Finally we took everything apart. Everything inside looks great. The brushes look very good and move easily. Even the seals look good, but we got new seals for it. We could find nothing broken or that appeared to be suffering from wear except the gypsy. We got a new one (in Grenada from Budget Marine), but the new stainless steel chain (bought in St. Martin at Island Water World) doesn't lay in it well. It is as if the links are just a little to long. We have sent an email to Island Water World asking for help matching a gypsy for our windless to the chain. You would think chain would be pretty standardized by now, but the 3/8" stl.st. at Budget Marine clearly fit the new gypsy here.

So for the time being, we have just put everything back together with the old gypsy. One solution (?) I came across on the Internet said to keep your foot on the gypsy while operating the windless (with a sturdy soled shoe) -- I not so sure I'm keen on that idea. I don't really know that the gypsy is the problem, but it is the only that we can point to that isn't 100%.

Still scratching my head!
Robyn
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Old 06-09-2013, 05:07   #11
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Re: Windlass Might Be Dying -- Need Help

Problems with the gypsy won't cause the motor to run slow but the gypsy is a problem that needs fixing. I don't like the boot idea.(although I must admit I have used it on a worn gypsy)

If the chain jumps out and the anchor plunges down in deep water the result is quite frightening and dangerous.

One of the problems is that there is 3 marine grades of chain that are similar 3/8 and 2 types of 10mm chain.
You can find out what you have just by measuring the links with some calipers. Some gypsys are quite forgiving others require an exact match.
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:00   #12
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I agree that I do not believe the gypsy is the cause of the motor slowing down, but we are stumped for the moment.

I really believed it was a power issue, but we can not find an obvious problem with that either.

Wow, I would never believed there could be so many variations in chain. When I measure it, what am I measuring exactly?
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:08   #13
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Re: Windlass Might Be Dying -- Need Help

When you measured 11.6v, was it at the terminals to the motor, or as close as you can get??
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:29   #14
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Quote:
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When you measured 11.6v, was it at the terminals to the motor, or as close as you can get??
At the motor terminals.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:02   #15
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Re: Windlass Might Be Dying -- Need Help

Quote:
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When I measure it, what am I measuring exactly?
This is a good website on chain:
Chain

The measurements are
... .... .............. A..... B. ... C
10mm Din 766. 10. .. 28. .. 14
10mm ISO. .. .. 10... 30... 14
3/8. ..... ....... .. 10... 31. ..15.8

(All in mm)
You can see all the above chains have the same thickness of 10mm, or 3/8 inch.

Worldwide all three types are used and are about equally popular.
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