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Windlass Blues
Windlass Interface Display Windlass Blues

 

During the summer of 2005, Mary and I were taking day cruises on just to get some sailing in.  On one of these trips we had anchored for a couple of hours while we ate lunch and just enjoyed being out.  There was a small chop on the Pasquotank River that day (only a foot or so) but the wind was blowing ~15 knots, so were we swinging around on the anchor ( a 60 lb Sascot Plough on an all chain rode).  Every once in a while the chain would get slack and then tighten with a bang as the boat swung around.  It was annoying, but I did not think much about it.  When it came time to raise the anchor, the windlass hummed away when I pressed the button, but the rode did not come up.  I noticed that the digital readout was still working, which meant that the final gear was being driven but the final gear was not turning the final shaft.  I had sheared the hardened steel pin that held the final gear to the drive shaft.   I managed to eventually get the anchor up by hand.  When I got around to tearing the windlass apart, I could not get the rope drum off - even with a gear puller.  I eventually heated the drum with a propane torch for about ten minutes before again trying the gear puller.  It started to move, but it still took about two hours to get the drum off.  I had to fight for every 100th of an inch it moved.  With the drum off, the side cover came off and all the gears were removed.  As evidenced by the pictures below, I had sheared the pin.  The two pieces of the pin then proceeded to eat the bronze shaft away.  Replacement of a relatively cheap hardened steel pin ended up costing $255 for parts I had to replace.

Two important lessons were learned from this incident:
1.  It is recommended that you never leave a boats anchor attached to the windlass when at anchor.  In the right conditions even a short stay on the hook can break your windlass.  I now have a galvanized hook that hooks to the chain when at anchor.  This hook is attached to a short rope that is attached to the foredeck cleat,  I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
2.  Lewmar (the owners of Simpson-Lawrence) recommends that you remove the drum from the windlass once a year to clean any corrosion to grease the shaft so as to inhibit corrosion.  My windlass had been in place for 4 years without any service - opps.

I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.

     
Final drive gear and drive shaft
from a Simpson-Lawrence 900GD
windlass.  Hardened steel pin was
sheared due to shock loads between
the anchor and the windlass.

I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.
I will always use the hook and rope to take the tension off the windlass.


 


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