Monday, December 10, 2012

Windlass Installation

 A few weeks ago I mentioned that the windlass was severely corroded and that I was planning to repair or replace it. When I removed it from the boat and got a look at the underside of it, the corrosion was as bad as I feared it would be. The screws that hold the gypsy assembly to the cast aluminum housing were completely frozen and no amount of PB Blaster could loosen them, and the corrosion around the mounting studs was severe enough to give me doubt about the entire base of the casting. One thing you don't want in your ground tackle is doubt, so last weekend I replaced the entire unit, and while I was at it I built a spacer out of StarBoard to raise the windlass up so that whenever there is water standing on its shelf in the anchor locker, it will not be sitting in it.

Using the paper template that came with the new windlass as a guide, I made a base plate out of StarBoard. 
It would have been a simple matter for Beneteau to mold a riser into the windlass shelf, or perhaps make the shelf slanted enough that water would run off, which might have made this project unnecessary. Anyway, once the plate was made I check-fitted it on the windlass. I also took the opportunity to back all the screws for the gypsy and back cover out and give them a liberal coat of Tef-Gel before re-tightening them, and did the same to the mounting studs before installing them. As far as I know, nothing beats Tef-Gel for preventing seizing of mating parts, including dissimilar metals.

This is what the base of the windlass look like. The housing that holds the gypsy and mounting studs is cast aluminum and the back cover, where the Lewmar sticker is located is composite material.
The unit comes with a rubber gasket that is about 2 mm thick, which isn't enough raise the unit up clear of any water on the shelf. On the old windlass, water had seeped between the gasket and the aluminum housing and worked its corrosive magic across the entire area of the base, especially around the stainless steel mounting studs.

Windlass with the gasket installed.

Woody checks the fit of the new base plate on the windlass.

After making sure the base and windlass fit together, it was time to mount the base plate into the anchor locker. I applied a bead of 3M 4000 around the perimeter and the holes, carefully pressed it into position and allowed it to cure.

Base plate is bonded in place with 3M  semi-permanent adhesive.
Now all that's left to do is bolt the windlass in place and connect the wiring. Of course it's never as easy as you'd think. The back cover of the windlass must be removed in order to make the connections, and there isn't enough clearance in the locker to do that with the windlass bolted in place, so that work has to be done before the windlass is bolted down.  If the windlass was mounted a couple of inches further forward you'd be able to get it off without removing the windlass.

Windlass installed.
The last step was to test the windlass. It worked like a champ. Now I can finish the job of rigging the boat with proper chain and rode and try out the new Rocna 55.


  1. Best photo so far, Woody checking out the windlass! Not really, but he's sooo cute.

  2. How did the StarBoard hold up? My installer is saying it is too compressive and bolts become loosened continually.

    1. The Starboard is holding up very well. The compression strength of this material is greater than that of plywood (perpendicular to the face). However, it is very slippery material and will not retain screws well. That is probably what your installer is referring to. The windlass is thru-bolted through the Starboard and fiberglass shelf so there is no issue with screw retention and the bolts are as tight as when they were installed.
      I like Starboard for many applications, but not where I would have to rely on it for screw retention or adhesive bonding.