Your Free ‘How To’ Guide to Ultimate Winch Servicing
Winch servicing – servicing your winches before the grease turns to grot, washes out, or the pawls start to stick is really important.
Makers recommend annual servicing, You should try to follow that guide but I sometimes forget and it becomes bi-annual servicing. If you go any longer you risk increased wear and even damage to your winches. If your winch pawls get hung up and the drum releases, parts will probably break, and your people close to you may get hurt as the winch handle goes into free fall.
Here is a quick review of the basics of winch servicing:
1. Read the instructions. Most winches come apart by loosening a single screw or removing a clip, with little risk of losing important parts. If in doubt, tape a cardboard box around the winch to catch any strays; the caged bearings can stick to the drum and fall out when it is removed. Take a photo of the orientation of the line stripper. Move the parts to a safe work area.
2. Work on one winch at a time. Seemingly identical winches a few years apart in age can have significantly different parts. I have wasted a few minutes figuring this out.
3. When disassembling your winch, keep track of the order you take things apart in; take photos just in case. Specifically, watch out for the pawls and pawl springs. If you are working on the boat in the water put a ring around your winch using cardboard or similar.
4. De-grease the winch parts with mineral spirits. A paintbrush, tooth brush, and lots of rags are helpful. Use some sort of bowl or similar to prevent getting the grot on your lovely superstructure.
5. Replace the pawls and springs if the motion is not crisp. Pawls and springs are lubricated with oil, not grease, since grease can thicken and cause them to stick. A manufacturer’s winch-servicing kit may contain special oil, but motor oil works as well.
6. Grease all of the gears and bearings before assembly. Lightly coated with good surface coverage since excess can run down into the pawls. Wipe a very thin coat of grease on all internal parts this reduces corrosion.
7. When reassembling the winch, make sure to face the line stripper in the correct direction.
8. Add canvas winch covers. They help reduce wash-out, and protect UV-vulnerable plastic parts. Have a look at Sailrite’s video on how to make canvas winch covers