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Powering a windlass


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Good point. I really should keep a stash of dyneema onboard for such things.

I've made soft shackles before but it's been awhile. Splicing is like speaking a foreign language- If you don't practice often, you forget how to do it. I've done brummel splices and eye splices in sta-set and VPC but if I had to do any of it now, I'd be clueless.  I have Toss' book but I normally do it with Youtube videos. That's not going to work out at sea.

I have a pretty large chain locker. I think I have 250' of combined rode and it doesn't take up much space in the locker.  I could definitely stow 300-400' feet of 1/4" chain.

As I've mentioned a few times, my foredeck space is very tight. I don't see myself installing the foot switches as nice as they may be. I envision installing the remote control socket and plugging in/unplugging whenever the windlass is used. I'm certain that I'll carry a spare socket and remote because I know how the constant plugging/unplugging wears down components.

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14 hours ago, estarzinger said:

been away for a while, just back and scrolling quickly:

snubber - 8 plait nylon, make your own dead easy, use a soft shackle to attach it to the chain.

windless power - almost certainly direct from house bank in your size boat - keep it simple.

Have a great thanksgiving - hope you get a milder stretch here and a nice winter cruise, best times on the bay for me.

Hey Evans - welcome back; hope all is well.

Do you like 8 plait because of its elasticity?  (I feel like there was a discussion about this here at some point; just can’t find it!)  How to attach the soft shackle to the snubber?

(Our fall stretch here, when I also like to get out, is turning into a series of catastrophic “atmospheric river” lows bringing massive flooding.  I mean, I know this is the Rain Coast, but...)

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44 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Do you like 8 plait because of its elasticity?  

How to attach the soft shackle to the snubber?

 “atmospheric river” lows 

 

8-plait - yea better elasticity, but also better handling, does not get as stiff with age like 3 strand does and coils/stuffs better

I spliced at eye with a thimble in the 8-plait and just ran the soft shackle thru that.  There are other ways to do it - primary question is whether you feel the need for the soft shackle to be 'captive' to the 8-plait - In the end I did not.  Since you are working with it comfortably on deck I never felt like I was going to lose the soft shackle . . .  but some people want that and there are ways to accomplish it.

as a side note - it is helpful to make the soft shackle for this purpose reasonably long, and if you are using HT chain you want to use one of the 'stronger' (burried tails) designs.

I made up a design of the snubber with a dyneema section spliced in where it typically ran over the edge of the boat, as that is the most frequent failure point.  In the end I used that approach when expecting severe conditions but it was more fussy than I wanted to deal with day to day - just used a movable dyneema chafe sleeve over that area of the the 8-plait for day to day use.

For such a simple piece of gear, there are a surprising number of considerations and feasible alternatives.

And yea, sorry about your rain - but catch it and ship it to like sydney or cape town, there are so many places that would just die for more fresh water. It is a shame it is so unevenly distributed.

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1 hour ago, Ajax said:

Good point. I really should keep a stash of dyneema onboard for such things.

I've made soft shackles before but it's been awhile. Splicing is like speaking a foreign language- If you don't practice often, you forget how to do it. I've done brummel splices and eye splices in sta-set and VPC but if I had to do any of it now, I'd be clueless.  I have Toss' book but I normally do it with Youtube videos. That's not going to work out at sea.

I have a pretty large chain locker. I think I have 250' of combined rode and it doesn't take up much space in the locker.  I could definitely stow 300-400' feet of 1/4" chain.

As I've mentioned a few times, my foredeck space is very tight. I don't see myself installing the foot switches as nice as they may be. I envision installing the remote control socket and plugging in/unplugging whenever the windlass is used. I'm certain that I'll carry a spare socket and remote because I know how the constant plugging/unplugging wears down components.

On my last sailboat I just had a hand controller which plugged into a capped socket on the foredeck. It had tiny pins and wiring, but still apparently works 25 years after I built the boat.

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19 minutes ago, accnick said:

On my last sailboat I just had a hand controller which plugged into a capped socket on the foredeck. It had tiny pins and wiring, but still apparently works 25 years after I built the boat.

I looked into setting up a hard-wired hand-held controller on my boat last winter but in the end went with foot switches, heavy duty Maxwell ones (since I could easily fit them) - worth looking at the various marine/industrial-type corded up/down controller stuff available.  In Ajax’s case, since it seems like he won’t have foot switches, it may be worthwhile installing a wireless controller as well (i.e., not relying on it only).  They’re relatively cheap, and having one gives real flexibility anywhere on board, and in a hurry (I.e., without needing to plug something in), if ever needed.  I think I recall @SASSAFRASS and @IStream both providing details on these in my windlass install thread last year (which basic wireless controllers they’d installed, I think)

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30 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

In Ajax’s case, since it seems like he won’t have foot switches, it may be worthwhile installing a wireless controller as well (i.e., not relying on it only).

If a wireless controller (with a wired socket on deck as backup) is an option, I will gladly take advantage of it.

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29 minutes ago, Ajax said:

If a wireless controller (with a wired socket on deck as backup) is an option, I will gladly take advantage of it.

I think a wireless controller simply connects into the relay wiring/solenoid near your windlass (and it should definitely not be installed in a humid chain locker, no matter how well protected).

So, with mine, I’d wire it in to +/- (power) and u/d (control).  Your hard wired controller would be separate (on-deck connection, likely).  A wireless one would be a cheap-ish simple back up. (My back up, i.e., to my foot switches, is a simple double-throw switch near the helm.)  A wireless controller might occasionally be convenient depending on the situation - I’ve thought of maybe getting one if cheap, but I’m not 100% sure the signal would travel through the metal hull.)

E20EDE84-5AB9-4D2E-B79C-9FF05A6D41C0.jpeg

F47158EF-016D-493E-B7B3-79433F9498E3.jpeg

ECB57E1C-646C-49A8-9560-9B8F36D629C8.jpeg

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FWIW, I got my wireless controller from MarineBeam. It was about $100.

The nice thing about all these reversing solenoid setups for windlasses and thrusters is that they make it really easy to add various control switches. There are three terminals that control the solenoids: trigger, up, and down. An up switch momentarily connects the trigger and up terminals. A down switch momentarily connects the trigger and down terminals. If you dedicate a small bus bar to each terminal, you can wire as many different (normally open) momentary switches in parallel as you want and each will work. In my case, I've got foot switches, the wireless control, and a hand controller all wired up. 

EDIT: what Jud said and showed a msec before me ^^^

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54 minutes ago, IStream said:

If you dedicate a small bus bar to each terminal, you can wire as many different (normally open) momentary switches in parallel as you want and each will work.

You could even wire in a solar-controlled option that auto-raises the anchor when the sun starts to rise (just be sure you’ve set your alarm to wake up before the action happens).  Or, perhaps, one on a flow switch that responds to heads flushes - a night of heavy drinking and lots of flushes, switch is activated and solenoid kicks the windlass in down mode, releasing metres and meters more chain for the night,  as a safety measure... :-). Unlimited options...user-customizable :-) 

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I got my wireless remote from eBay.  It was, like, $12.  What could go wrong?  :ph34r::huh: Yeah, it has a little relay box that just wires in to the main relay in parallel to the hard-wired switch, using terminal strips as shown in Jud’s photo.

BTW, For the relay and terminals, I found a nice dry out-of-the way corner in the back of a V-berth locker.  Normal use of the locker won’t disturb it.  However I can’t actually see the darned thing and reach it at the same time, and all the wiring has to be done by touch.  *sigh* Shoulda just put it front and center, so it can actually be maintained.  Heck, it could make a natural “drawer divider.” Socks on one side of it, skivvies on the other side.  

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For my windlass long lead I used "cab cord" for the wire (basically tough extension cord wire). Then went to a hobby store and got an electronics project box a few inches square. Added a water resistant toggle switch, drilled a hole for the wire and switch, lots of silicone. The switch would fail about once a year and I'd just replace it cause they are super cheap and I carried spares. It lived in the anchor locker and regularly got doused with waves.

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5 hours ago, estarzinger said:

And yea, sorry about your rain - but catch it and ship it to like sydney or cape town, there are so many places that would just die for more fresh water. It is a shame it is so unevenly distributed.

I'm pretty sure Sydney (and NSW in general) have got enough ATM - some serious flooding going on.

Same here in Tasmania - been the wettest spring I can remember in maybe 20 years. We haven't been out on the boat much so far. OTOH I've got a lot of project work done.

Good info about snubbers - I use a 3 strand nylon with a chain grab/claw (not hook). Never been totally happy with the chain grab/claw, I do carry hooks, never used one because I can't see how they can be reliable under any sort of snatch load if things become slack. Used them a lot in the bush but that's different when you're dragging logs etc about.

A soft shackle makes sense, only downside I see is a bit more of a PITA to fit. But as you say, a knife would remove it fast in an emergency situation...

FKT

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4 hours ago, Ajax said:

If a wireless controller (with a wired socket on deck as backup) is an option, I will gladly take advantage of it.

That's what I've done. Cheap eBay wireless remote. Works fine.

I do have a hard wired deck switch for up only as I can free-drop the chain. The deck switch isn't set into a hole though, I wasn't cutting more holes in my thoroughly painted deck. It's in a HDPE block at the base of the foremast out of the way, wire goes through a snorkel type deck penetration.

FKT

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4 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

That's what I've done. Cheap eBay wireless remote. Works fine.

I do have a hard wired deck switch for up only as I can free-drop the chain. The deck switch isn't set into a hole though, I wasn't cutting more holes in my thoroughly painted deck. It's in a HDPE block at the base of the foremast out of the way, wire goes through a snorkel type deck penetration.

FKT

How do you know whether a controller and remote will work with a particular solenoid/relay?  I guess they’re multifunctional, and simply send a signal, so could interface with a number of different devices/circuit types?

Also - so, no issues with the signal from the remote being blocked by metal hull?  (I.e., you’re on deck with remote in hand).  I was wondering if that would be a consideration for a low power wireless signal.

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1 hour ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

How do you know whether a controller and remote will work with a particular solenoid/relay?  I guess they’re multifunctional, and simply send a signal, so could interface with a number of different devices/circuit types?

Also - so, no issues with the signal from the remote being blocked by metal hull?  (I.e., you’re on deck with remote in hand).  I was wondering if that would be a consideration for a low power wireless signal.

You just need to find one that claims to be a "windlass remote" (or trim tab, maybe) so that it has both an "up" signal and a "down" signal.  All they do is send a 12VDC signal when the button is held down, exactly like your hard-wired switch.  So you wire it to the relay in parallel to that.    

This looks like the one I have.  You can leave that remote puck in the wall-bracket or pop it out and stick it in your pocket.  As usual with budget Asian electronics, they seem to be sold under several different brand names at slightly different price points.  Obviously if you tap 12VDC off the windlass circuit, this thing would need an in-line fuse.  But if you've run a 3-wire cable all the way from your switch, you might already have an appropriately-fused positive in place.

s-l1600.jpg

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3 hours ago, toddster said:

You just need to find one that claims to be a "windlass remote" (or trim tab, maybe) so that it has both an "up" signal and a "down" signal.  All they do is send a 12VDC signal when the button is held down, exactly like your hard-wired switch.  So you wire it to the relay in parallel to that.    

This looks like the one I have.  You can leave that remote puck in the wall-bracket or pop it out and stick it in your pocket.  As usual with budget Asian electronics, they seem to be sold under several different brand names at slightly different price points.  Obviously if you tap 12VDC off the windlass circuit, this thing would need an in-line fuse.  But if you've run a 3-wire cable all the way from your switch, you might already have an appropriately-fused positive in place.

s-l1600.jpg

Mine is similar - control box looks the same, hand piece is different.

I did wonder if it'd work through a steel hull. All I can say is, it works with mine both back at the wheel and on the foredeck. There's an antenna wire (I expect it's the green wire in the pic above) and you could extend that to somewhere if you needed to. I didn't need to.

$40 on eBay. All it does is energise the appropriate solenoid terminal so not really a complex device.

How long a cheap one lasts...... ?? Guess I'll find out.

FKT

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/24/2021 at 6:19 AM, Ajax said:

Soft shackles are great but my experience is that they're difficult to undo in an emergency situation when they're loaded up.  I don't know how likely that is, or if I should be concerned about it.

Just cut the snubber with a knife.

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Realizing I am late to this thread I will comment on the electrical aspect only.

If you have a fantastic house battery system that you maintain and can depend on then running heavy gauge copper from the house bank is the clear deal.  On most smaller boats this isn't real world.

Windlass amp draws are proportional to load and the motors have short duty cycles at full load.  Automotive start batteries that deliver high amps for 30 seconds are ideal for this. Using a 12vdc-12vdc charger and lightweight wire and an automotive battery can be a solution with reasonable cost that does not depend on having a fantastic house battery system.  It is not only the cost/weight of the heavy gauge wire to consider but also the terminations, tooling for same, sleeving, clamps, bulkhead penetrations, and labor.  All of which is far simpler and cheaper if you are just running a 14 gauge charge line.

So if your house bank is 4 AGMs or is LFP or two large AGMs that you replace often then maybe copper cable is all you need.  On the other hand if you have a couple of 3 year old group 24 FLAs as is common on boats this size you might be better off with a DC-DC charger and dedicated battery.  Unless you are willing to upgrade your house battery approach not only on a one-time basis but in terms of ongoing maintenance.

My two cents

 

 

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13 hours ago, 2airishuman said:

So if your house bank is 4 AGMs or is LFP or two large AGMs that you replace often then maybe copper cable is all you need.

I have 2 excellent Firefly AGM'S. 

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On 11/24/2021 at 5:43 PM, toddster said:

You just need to find one that claims to be a "windlass remote" (or trim tab, maybe) so that it has both an "up" signal and a "down" signal.  All they do is send a 12VDC signal when the button is held down, exactly like your hard-wired switch.  So you wire it to the relay in parallel to that.    

This looks like the one I have.  You can leave that remote puck in the wall-bracket or pop it out and stick it in your pocket.  As usual with budget Asian electronics, they seem to be sold under several different brand names at slightly different price points.  Obviously if you tap 12VDC off the windlass circuit, this thing would need an in-line fuse.  But if you've run a 3-wire cable all the way from your switch, you might already have an appropriately-fused positive in place.

s-l1600.jpg

 

I actually tried that particular model pictured.  At least the one I received is not safe to use on a windlass.  On a couple of occasions it did not stop when I released the button and had to repeatedly smash the up/down buttons until it stopped.  If not going with the high dollar marine version I would recommend at a minimum using something from Warn or some other reputable and established company that has done some minimal due diligence to make sure their product performs, as well as will stand behind it if something goes wrong.   An anchor windlass has enough power to easily destroy boat and body parts, nothing here is worth saving a few dollars on a wireless remote.  

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Ajax said:

I have 2 excellent Firefly AGM'S. 

Then my advice would be to run cables from those and be done with it.  You will need a breaker.  Use the windlass manufacturer's chart to size the cable, but you should end up somewhere around #4 or #2.  If there isn't a manufacturer's chart then you can size it for a one-volt drop at rated max amps.  I would go up or down a size for reasons of availability or cost if necessary, you'll never notice the difference.  Run the cables 6" apart and through separate holes to reduce the likelihood of a short.  If you don't have a crimper then I would suggest terminating the ends using solder pellets as this is far less expensive than buying a crimp tool you'll rarely use and despite what you might hear the terminations will perform just as well as crimp.  Del city has connectors and solder pellets.  Their web site is down or I'd provide a link.

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Here's a link to the del city catalog page where they have a kit that includes terminals and slugs:

https://catalog.delcity.net/Del-City-Interactive-Catalog-2021/117/#

They also sell individual components on their web site so you only have to buy what you need.

With the slugs you start by stripping the wire and putting a piece of heat shrink on a good 24" or 36" from the end where it's out of the way.  Then set the wire aside and secure the terminal with the wire cup facing upward in a vise, clamp, or locking pliers, put in the prescribed number of slugs, and heat the cup with a propane torch.  Once the slugs melt completely, you shut off the torch and jam the (stripped) end of the wire into the cup of molten solder and hold it for 10 or 20 seconds until it cools and hardens.  Apply heat shrink and you're done.

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9 minutes ago, sailak said:

 

I actually tried that particular model pictured.  At least the one I received is not safe to use on a windlass.  On a couple of occasions it did not stop when I released the button and had to repeatedly smash the up/down buttons until it stopped.  If not going with the high dollar marine version I would recommend at a minimum using something from Warn or some other reputable and established company that has done some minimal due diligence to make sure their product performs, as well as will stand behind it if something goes wrong.   An anchor windlass has enough power to easily destroy boat and body parts, nothing here is worth saving a few dollars on a wireless remote.  

 

 

The only controllers I’ve ever cheaped out on are low-wattage PWM speed controllers for cabin fans.  (I installed Hella Jet fans some time ago and they’re either full on or off - and full on is relatively noisy, and I also wanted at least a bit of speed variation, I.e., just to circulate a bit air in the cabin when the diesel cabin heater is on.  Cheap Chinese DC speed controllers on eBay.  I don’t plan to leave those on when I’m not on the boat!  (Short/fire, who knows...)

If I pick up a convenience-enabling wireless remote for the windlass I installed last winter (powered off my two house batts), I’d probably go with the Marine Beam one.  $100... not cheap, but...

 

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