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Anchor Winch

Early in the season the ketch sailed around to Gorey and was comfortably anchored outside the harbour wall while the crew had lunch on board. When the time arrived to " weigh anchor" it was hauled up by a combination of delicate footwork on the footswitch that is located beside the electric winch and some hand hauling. Later in the season it became necessary to haul up the anchor entirely by hand and it became obvious that something was wrong with the electrics to the winch, sometimes referred to as the windlass.

A voltage check revealed that at least 11.5volts was getting to the terminals for the 12 volt electric motor and it became clear that the problem lay somewhere inside the white plastic coated "Tiger" windlass. Seen here on the right left.

Now, the windlass is situated in a customized locker in the bow of the ketch and you would hope that it would be big enough to remove the motor housing to get at the electrics.. not at all!!

The whole 25kilogram unit had to be un bolted and cut loose. But worst still the bolts had somehow become bonded to the fibre-glass compartment.

The actual age of the Tiger Windlass is not yet established but it was manufactured using a white powder coating that is bonded to the metal in an oven. That is beautiful when its in the showroom but after 25years the underside of the plastic had swollen and the coating had been forced away from the metal by the years of corrosion from the salt/sea atmosphere.  The diagnosis seemed to be getting worst and the prognosis was getting expensive.

Eventually the windlass was sitting on the workbench. All the white plastic cover was prized off, the motor housing was detached, the 12volt motor was dismounted and all exterior surfaces looked highly corroded. The interior, however, appeared to be reasonably servicable and the 12 volt motor was sent off for examination.

The local agent diagnosed that the frame holding one of the graphite brushes was badly corroded and was preventing the graphic component from keeping contact with the part of the motor that should rotate. However, they had no access to replacement parts.

A week later having dredged the internet for a supplier of parts for our Tiger Windlass during which it was discovered that the manufacturer had closed the factory that very week, a set of oversize graphite brushes was bought from a local automobile accessory shop and with some delicate filing a new graphite brush was manufactured and installed. The reassembled motor was returned to the local agent for testing.

Meanwhile the formerly white coated housing are due to be "shot blasted" to clear away all traces of the corrosion and a new protective coat is planned to protect whole of the windlass and hopefully extend the life of the Tiger a few more seasons. Eventually, however, it is likely that a replacement for the Tiger Windlass will have to found and that could be in the region of 990.

The replacement carbon brushes in the electric motor were successfully refitted and the unit temporarliy installed on the winch while it was connected to the 12volt supply on the workbench. It worked and the restoration work could commence.

The entire metal casing was treated for corrosion and the various ratchets and catchets were systematically removed and cleaned. Some had to drilled and tapped so that a new stainless steel thread could be inserted. After seven days of anti-corrosion treatment the surface of the entire metal casing was sanded down to bare metal and given three coats of silver enamel.

The winch drum and the chain "gypsy" were brushed with a heavy wire brush to reveal the original bronze base metal and even some chrome components became exposed. The latch that prevents the "gypsy" ( the contoured drum that conveys the chain) from running back to the sea was stripped, greased and refitted so that it swings freely into contact. The fitting that strips the chain off the "Gypsy" so that it falls into the anchor locker was repositioned it having fallen off due to a corroded holding screw.

After a period on five weeks it was clear that reassembly could begin. The windlass was pre-assembled without fitting the exterior seal and the oil would be topped up once the unit was fully installed.

The 12volt power leads were checked and one of them seemed to have weak point where it flexed very easily and so it was replaced. A quick bit of footwork to operate the footswitch proved that the connections were all good and progress continued.

The anchor chain was rethreaded through the base of the windlass and re-connected to the anchor. A new shackle was fitted for this purpose and the pin was additionally wired up for security.

Four, new, stainless steel bolts of the correct length were purchased to fix the Windlass into its original position and almost a tube of marine sealant was used to bed it down and prevent water from entering the base of the unit and seeping into the anchor locker.

A Parts List and Operating Instruction Manual are now held onboard and both skippers and crew are asked to read about the several safety devices that are fitted to the Windlass to prevent injury to hands and fingers.

Right then. Where shall we drop anchor and try out the restored Windlass?





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Last modified: 06/21/16


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