Windlass Overhaul: Part II (Mod)

I’m now thoroughly bored with trying to fix the windlass

Having cleaned it out and re-fitted the windlass earlier, it worked perfectly, twice! I’ve now had a further two attempts and think I have it licked. This is what I ended up doing:

  • I fitted a sealed bearing to the top of the electric motor (replacing the original, shielded bearing) the part number for this bearing is 6201LLU/2AS. Read an explanation of the difference between open, shielded and sealed bearings if you’re into that sort of thing… This should hopefully prevent a recurrence of the inside of the electric motor being coated with grease. This was the only way of solving this issue as there is simply no room to fit a separate lip seal. You do have to wonder whether a sealed bearing might have been fitted in the first place?
  • I machined the old, worn bronze bush that is meant to support the windlass’ output shaft’s bottom end (and probably the most highly stressed part of the windlass…) to take a HK1512-B drawn cup needle roller bearing insert (I kid you not!). The output shaft was also machined down to 15mm diameter (from 16mm) to suit the new bearing. Once you measure something for machining, you really get a feel for the workmanship that went into it. It was a bit disappointing to find that the accuracy of the machining is not great, with the output shaft top bearing having an interference fit while the drive gear’s fit on the same shaft is a bit “loose”, to say the least.
  • I replaced the electric motor brushes and re-wired the brush holder. This bit really annoyed me, as it required a third removal of the windlass when it only turned about three revolutions under load… It would appear that the brushes had absorbed grease and, under load, the heat of the current flowing through the brushes would cause a film of grease to be deposited on the commutator – end of windlass! Further frustration was caused by the fact that South Pacific wouldn’t sell me the brushes. I was told to send the windlass in for a quote and repair (yeah, right, throw good money after bad?). When I showed the electric motor to my local auto-electrician (Paul Bagnalls in Mona Vale), he was not impressed with the small brushes, given that they had to carry higher currents than your average starter motor. He reluctantly sold me a set of starter motor brushes (thought I was wasting my time and money), which I then sanded down to the correct size using a belt-sander, holding the brushes in the vice! Not elegant, I grant you, but it worked! The brush holder was also re-wired with heavier guage wire.
Sealed bearing fitted to windlass with old bearing for comparison

Sealed Bearing Fitted

Bush machined to take new roller bearing

Machined Bush and Bearing to Suit

New bearing cartridge fitted to gearbox

New Bearing Fitted to Gearbox

Replaced the electric motor brushes and re-wired the brush holder

Brush Holder and (modified) Brushes

Fortunately, it appears the windlass has now had a new lease on life, having picked up the anchor three times on the weekend. My next move was going to be replacement. The modification of the output shaft has removed all the slop and wobble from the capstan – let’s hope it lasts a bit longer than the original!