30 July 2012

Windlass Replacement Part 1 - Preparation

old system

As you might remember our windlass broke during the last anchor manoeuver just before heading to the marina here in Grenada for hurricane season.

In the meantime I discovered, that the old motor housing from the windlass sheared off. A repair was possible but since the model is not built anymore we did some further research: The brushes are on the edge (would cost 200 USD), we missed a manual retrieval (the needed part was not found on board) and spares are in general hard to find. This made me rethink a repair, I mean we use this piece so many times and the windlass was on the lower limit of power anyway. So we opted for a new one.

Our new windlass arrived a few weeks ago from Miami, some electrical parts are still underway though. We decided for a Lofrans Tigres. We went for a horizontal windlass as I prefer the second gypsy on the side and the Tigres is known to be among the most powerful machines in this size range (see the comparison on the bottom). They also have a very simple manual retrieval mechanism in case of an emergency. I could go with an even much more powerful windlass as Habibi already has very thick cables for the windlass. These 12Volt wires have 67mm2 - each! That's needed to transfer the immense power, over 100 Ampere, while it's running. Replacing the cables was out of question as you pay up to 50 USD per Meter and laying two cables in this size through the whole boat would be a nightmare, in terms of work and cost. Thanks Island Packet for not economizing on this!

But still, changing a windlass is a lot of work. BEFORE you even get started you find yourself measuring and checking sizes with paper templates all over the place. You want to make sure that the new windlass fits before you're spending the money. And did you know that there are at least 20 different chain types on the market? No? There are different sizes in Imperial US, Metric (to choose between ISO and DIN) and you have to order the right gypsy (chain wheel) for your windlass as well. Just in case, we have a 5/16 HT (High Tensile) chain. If you do that part wrong you'll have to order a new gypsy (250USD) or alternatively a new chain (1500 USD)! I know a guy who went through two gypsies before it worked out...

The existing holes will never fit (and our deck at the anchor plattform is unbelievably 60mm thick). So before we even could think of mounting the windlass we needed to do some preparation: Thanks god we found a great Swiss guy, René, to help us with the whole wood work!

First of course we had to remove the old, now grease spilling, windlass and all the associated parts. Plan a day for that as you need to remove most of the existing chain stoppers and so. It's lovely to work from below over your head in a cramped hot anchor locker while your wife yells from above turn left - ah, no right....but when you're finally done you can start with the real work:

Marco in his "work room"

the disassembled old anchor windlass motor

the existing hole

Day one: We moulded a piece of teak in epoxy into the existing big hole where the old windlass motor used to be mounted to ensure that we won't lose any stability. I mean at some point the boat basically will be hanging on to this windlass, right?

René at work

teak moulded in epoxy into the hole

Day two: We built a new teak platform above the existing one. This was done to cover all the existing cut outs and bad looking edges. You can call it cosmetic but it makes the whole thing watertight as well. Never forget to ensure your measurement and alignment is correct by moving the 28kg windlass around...

new teak platform layed out
Marco creates a template for drilling holes

Days three/four/five: When all the epoxy was dry I could apply the sealer into the edges of our new teak plattform. As soon it was dry I started to sand and used Cetol to paint the teak with multiple coats. I'm not a big fan of Cetol anymore... But it was used on the toe rails already so I have to keep on doing it.

painted teak

Happy with the woodwork and the painting the actual job starts. Fitting and adapting the electrical system for the new windlass....can't wait for that, really!

Simpson Lawrence Sprint 1500 vs. the new Lofrans Tigres:

Power                 1000 Watt vs. 1500 Watt
Weight                18 kg vs. 28 kg 
Max Pull              680 kg vs. 1500 kg
Recovery Load     100 kg vs. 190 kg

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