Category: General

Windlass Maintenance

Your windlass takes a lot of hardship over the course of the sailing season. Though designed to take a certain amount of punishment from the exposure to wind and waves, if you ignore the basic maintenance, it will eventually seize.

Maintenance is very simple, and will only take half an hour of your time.

Lofrans Tigres 

This is my Lofrans Tigres electric windlass which I have had for 5 years now and
 served me very well. Though the pictures and instructions serve for this
 windlass, they will also be relevant to all types of anchor windlass.

oil filler and sight glass At the front of the windlass is a sight glass for oil and an oil filler. Gives this a quick check (you
 may need a torch). I have never had to add any oil and it is not a requirement for general
 maintenance. Check the manual for the correct grade if required.





The main area to concentrate on is the 'gypsy', this is the roller that the chain runs over. This runs on a cone that allow it to either run free or be locked off depending on whether you are releasing or pulling the anchor. 

remove and replace the 'O' ring

 Remove the 'O' ring at the end of the shaft. This is to stop you unwinding the locking bar
 too far. The 'O' ring perishes every season, so I always replace it.







Now you can unwind and remove the locking bar to release the 'gypsy'. You can't remove the 'gypsy' yet because of the 'stripper' that is located underneath. The stripper is to make sure the chain doesn't wrap all the way round the drum, and means it gets fed back down the chain feed hole. Remove the 2 bolts holding the stripper and remove the 'gypsy'

If the 'gypsy' is seized in place, try banging in 2 wooden wedges between the 'gypsy' and the casing. Better still, use a 'puller' to remove it





grease the cone

Wipe the cone and all surfaces with a rag to remove the old grease. Check for any corrosion, and if necessary, gently abrade with some fine emery cloth. Give all surfaces a coating of marine grease and re-assemble.  









One common problem with windlasses's is the mixed metals used. Mine is no different, having an aluminium casing, but stainless steel bolts. This is a recipe for corrosion and seized fittings. When you replace the stripper, coat the bolts in an anti-seize paste. I do this as a matter of course each year just to make sure the bolts will always come undone. I also do the same for the swinging locking arm which also bolts into the alloy casing.

anti-corrosion paste

locking arm


align key and pistons

 The drum on the other side is simple enough. Remove the central bolt and withdraw
 the drum. Grease up the cams that allow manual operation of the windlass.

 Replacement just requires you to line up the key and sprung loaded cams. You can
 tell if it's lined up as you will feel slight spring pressure as you put the drum back on







That's it, another winter job done.

protect with a cover

  Finally, the best protection you can give your windlass is a cover! A waterproof canvas cover
  fitted over your windlass when not in use will protect is from the worst of the water,
    especially when you are beating. This is my winter cover, I have a fancier one for the
    sailing season!

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