Did you know winches need to be maintained? It's true! Shocking, I know. WTB Comprehensive list of maintenance.

NedZepplin

New member
27
5
SE USA
That winches are supposed to have a maintenance cycle once a year is one of those blindingly obvious things that I just didn't know when I had my first sailboat.  I was busy enough working 60 hours a week, maintaining a wife, and fixing the things I *did* know about on the boat.  If you are keeping count, that is 3 full time jobs.  Eventually sold the boat, and cut the wife adrift, and now I've cancelled the job... and its time for a new boat.

But this time around, I want to be the guy who does all the maintenance that really should be done, according to the manual, but that %90 of the people never do until the thing breaks.

I think that's called Preventative maintenance?  What a concept!

The challenge is, if you don't know it, you don't know you don't know it!

So what's your top maintenance items that people foolishly overlook? 

Even better has someone got a comprehensive, yet general list somewhere?  

Or, even better- software to track it all and remind me, and where me or my crew can check off when things are done, and store pictures of the item's internals last time we took it apart, with notes about tricky bits and what was replaced and the like.  That sounds like the ticket!

I have been compiling a list every time I come across an account of a boat repair or maintenance how-to video.  But this ad hoc method can't be ideal.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

BayRacer

Anarchist
613
95
Buy a gallon of propwash from the local airfield.  Works just as well anywhere on the boat.  

There's no good one size fits all guide, as far as I know.  Deal is, read, do youtube, cruise this forum, pay attention to what looks tired,  leaky, creaky or broke on your boat, and keep notes, preferably in a spreadsheet.  Every little damn thing.  Then research each question a bit, maybe googling [issue] anarchy as a starting point, and prioritize things.  I do that by safety risk and how badly a flaw impairs operations, but also figuring out what I can defer for monetary reasons or because it would put a crimp in my race season.  A delaminating bulkhead... had to do that more or less right away.  New lifeline covers?  That could wait.  

Top item I've always overlooked? Cracks and crazing in the gelcoat or nicks in the non-skid, and re-bedding all the deck gear that comes under strain.  Those are a couple of the top ways to get water intrusion in the core and to get core rot.  This year I started tackling core and glass repair.  I now have a dremel tool, some gelcoat resin, some tints, a ton of sandpaper, a half can of non-skid paint and some leftover 4200, and no good reason not to fix every damn wart on the boat's deck.  I guess a couple backing plates may be in order on a few of the stanchions too, based on where there's been some crazing.  
 

 
Winch maintenance was both my, and my wife's, favorite springtime boat work activity. It was at once both mechanically satisfying (wow - we can actually disassemble and re-assemble this intricate piece of machinery!), and rewarding - nothing like the sound of a smoothly rotating well- lubed winch. Yes, we also encountered the non-believers: we were doing our annual maintenance in the yard one year when the guy on the boat next door asked what we were doing. When we told him, his response was "Oh, are you supposed to do that? I never touch mine."

I still remember attending a Harken winch seminar at one of the old Atlantic City sailboat shows. Everyone got to dis-assemble and then re-assemble a Harken winch, and learned first-hand the basic rule of winch design - now matter how big or small, it only comes apart, and goes back together one way. You can't re-assemble it incorrectly using just your hands.

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
63,131
5,850
De Nile
Winch maintenance was both my, and my wife's, favorite springtime boat work activity. It was at once both mechanically satisfying (wow - we can actually disassemble and re-assemble this intricate piece of machinery!), and rewarding - nothing like the sound of a smoothly rotating well- lubed winch. Yes, we also encountered the non-believers: we were doing our annual maintenance in the yard one year when the guy on the boat next door asked what we were doing. When we told him, his response was "Oh, are you supposed to do that? I never touch mine."

I still remember attending a Harken winch seminar at one of the old Atlantic City sailboat shows. Everyone got to dis-assemble and then re-assemble a Harken winch, and learned first-hand the basic rule of winch design - now matter how big or small, it only comes apart, and goes back together one way. You can't re-assemble it incorrectly using just your hands.
Since my buddy helped me with my rebuild project, and he subsequently was willed his dad's GOB, I'm helping him. Winches that, to his knowledge, had not been apart in 53 years. I don't think that's quite right, but it's been a good long time. Looks like they used wheel grease on them. Funny thing is, damn things work like new now.  I think old Barients are impossible to kill.

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
70,170
13,315
Great Wet North
True. I regard my old Barients as the best bits of machinery of any kind that I've ever owned. It was a black day when that company was sold.

Speaking of which, the latest winches I have serviced were Lewmars and Harkens. They both rotate (the handle) ass backwards - counter clockwise for high gear and clockwise for low gear.

WTF is with that?

 
Last edited by a moderator:

BayRacer

Anarchist
613
95
Since my buddy helped me with my rebuild project, and he subsequently was willed his dad's GOB, I'm helping him. Winches that, to his knowledge, had not been apart in 53 years. I don't think that's quite right, but it's been a good long time. Looks like they used wheel grease on them. Funny thing is, damn things work like new now.  I think old Barients are impossible to kill.
My C&C still has original Barients for primaries (I added Lewmars for spin sheets decade ago as boat had none).  I have serviced the Barients 2x I think in 12 years, they always spin fine.  But boat has been in freshwater its whole life, so that helps.

 

Navig8tor

Super Anarchist
7,680
2,064
Hold my beer.
I once caught a guy reassembling his winches with a hammer "to nudge things" into place, my other favorite is those people liberally applying so much grease to everything that the pawls- stay closed- this works well- until the first time you load up the winch.

 

NedZepplin

New member
27
5
SE USA
View attachment 439275

Here is a pretty generic spring checklist I found somewhere years ago (I think, haven't tried to attach files before). 
This is great, exactly what I needed.  I just need to get started. Will of course add to it later, as systems get evaluated and I read the manuals. 

Excel doesn't work for me, I come from a software background and there are programs that are really good for keeping track of extraordinarily large numbers of things to be done.  Ok, well there are programs that do that which don't completely suck. 

I think I'll adapt one of those programs for this purpose.   I really like the idea of crew and me taking photos and putting them in the log fo service, so that when we need to go back we can see what happened when or understand how things failed. 

 

Bump-n-Grind

Get off my lawn.
14,982
3,808
Chesapeake Bay/Vail
Since my buddy helped me with my rebuild project, and he subsequently was willed his dad's GOB, I'm helping him. Winches that, to his knowledge, had not been apart in 53 years. I don't think that's quite right, but it's been a good long time. Looks like they used wheel grease on them. Funny thing is, damn things work like new now.  I think old Barients are impossible to kill.
damn near .....

 
Ok, as long as we’re on winch rebuilds—I have a pair of Harken self-tailing winches on my cabin top that I cannot keep functional.  I tear them down, clean all the parts off (WD-40 and paper towels) get everything shiny, lube moderately with Harken winch grease on the bearings and machine oil on the pawls.  The winches start to freeze up within two months, and when I take them apart again they are caked with salt goo. I wash the damn things down after every sail, too....

Any ideas?  I’m in Hawaii—is there a better winch grease for tropical weather? Or do I just have to strip winches down every 8 weeks?  Seems unfair, what with people above getting 50 years between overhauls on their Barients!

 

LionessRacing

Super Anarchist
4,364
598
Myrtle Beach,
A generic list is going to fail relatively quickly if it becomes specific enough to be useful:

This is stuff I should be doing, but likely won't apply to your vessel...

  • Mizzen rigging and sails inspection
  • Storm sail inspection and test rig
  • Eberspracher heating system
  • Bonding System continuity
  • Lubricate Centerboard lead screw, inspect lifting strap when hauled
  • Forward Scan Sonar functionality
  • Synchronize "CMAP" social map charts and review ACE soundings to get most recent soundings in Silting areas of AICW

probably general enough but not necessarily done...

  • Fire extinguishers, flares and horns in service dates and accessible
  • PFD count and check for inflation cylinder date
  • Life raft repack
  • Emergency Steering gear located and tested
  • Steering gear inspected and lubricated
  • Man overboard gear inspected, repaired, replaced
  • PLB and EPIRB battery replaced and functional check
  • VHF: both 25 Watt and handhelds


    masthead and emergency antenna tested transmit and receive
  • DSC tested both transmit  and receive

[*]Autopilot functionality, battery in remote

[*]Radar functionality

[*]AIS warnings displayed on Plotter/ Audible

[*]Thru hull valves cycled, hoses clamps and plugs inspected

[*]Fuel strainer drained of water/Sediment


  • if water and sediment found, Fuel polished

[*]Battery Water level, voltage/State of charge/posts & clamps cleaned and tightened.

[*]Alternator belt

[*]Engine hoses and scan for leaks of oil or coolant

[*]Oil sample for analysis

[*]Bilge pump sensors and pumps

[*]Propane tank pressure test date, fill level

[*]CO detector tested

[*]Documentation:


  • Registration upto date and on board
  • insurance
  • current NOTAM reviewed and charts updated



Not equipment but should be done:

  • MOB Training: dockside, under power, Under sail
  • Picking up a buoy (if your race) or other flotsam with boat hook.
  • Crew trained for Skipper/owner's unavailability


    to return vessel to dock/mooring
  • Recover MOB


    spot MOB,
  • Return and heave to...

[*]Make VHF call with appropriate information or DSC button

[*]Use Radar/sonar/plotter to pilot an entrance and channel as needed in bad weather at night




 

CaptainAhab

Anarchist
876
250
South Australia
winches are like automobile engines. There is no fucking point in changing the oil in a car if you rarely drive it. Cabinhouse winches that are used for halyards would never get serviced. They just sit there and get used for 5 minutes every time you sail. If you don't use the spinnaker much, then those rarely need service. The main jib wiches are the ones that deserve some attention. If you are a racer. Weekends, mid week races, then they should be done annually. That's if you are serious. If you are a cruiser(rarely adjust ones sails) then we are talking something like 5 years  or when they start getting noisy. It's one of those common sense kind of situations. I wouldn't be too concerned about damaging them.

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
70,170
13,315
Great Wet North
Ok, as long as we’re on winch rebuilds—I have a pair of Harken self-tailing winches on my cabin top that I cannot keep functional.  I tear them down, clean all the parts off (WD-40 and paper towels) get everything shiny, lube moderately with Harken winch grease on the bearings and machine oil on the pawls.  The winches start to freeze up within two months, and when I take them apart again they are caked with salt goo. I wash the damn things down after every sail, too....

Any ideas?  I’m in Hawaii—is there a better winch grease for tropical weather? Or do I just have to strip winches down every 8 weeks?  Seems unfair, what with people above getting 50 years between overhauls on their Barients!
I don't use that grease the manufacturers sell for insane prices - the last time I did I got a $20 tube of Lewmar grease the size of a tube of hotel toothpaste - it was good for two winches.

For the last few decades I have exclusively used white lithium grease - Gunk & Kleen-Flo both make it. It's much lighter than "winch" grease but boat winches are specifically listed for its use.

It's light enough that you can lube the pawls with it - no stiction to prevent their movement and it quiets them nicely. They go tick tick tick instead of clink, clink,clink. It doesn't hold dirt & grime so it may help your salt problem. Since I started using it I've never had a failure of any kind, not even a pawl spring.

It rinses off at the next service - no stiff brushes, scrapers etc. Well, maybe a bit of toothbrush scrubbing on the nasty bits.

I'm convinced the manufacturers sell that overpriced wheel bearing viscosity stuff because they know the majority of their winches get serviced once every third owner, whether they need it or not.

This pic shows what it looks like - cream coloured and about the texture of stiff yogurt.

DSCN0633 (2).JPG

 


Latest posts



Top