Tuesday, April 18, 2006

First up: Winches

First piece of maintenance on Canopus this year, I need to repair one of the winches.

I am fortunate to have some great winches on Canopus; she has two Lewmar winches on the cabin top, and two more Lewmar 40 self-tailing winches on the cockpit sides. The self-tailing winches are great. Using a simple winch, you need to turn ("grind") the winch with one hand, and keep pulling the line ("tail") with the other hand. This is only done fast if you have two people; one grinding, the other tailing. A self-tailing winch keeps the tension on the line by itself, meaning you can concentrate on the grinding - it's faster, and much easier when sailing by yourself.

The self-tailing mechanism is quite clever - it's difficult to describe, here's an exploded view of one. There are two plates that grip the line sitting at the top of the winch. This pulls the line up... but something needs to strip the line out from between the two plates. That piece is called the "stripper ring" (part 17 in the previous diagram) - and the stripper ring in my starboard winch is broken.

I ordered a new one at the end of last year, received the part during the winter, and finally got a chance to install it last weekend - or rather, to try and install it. Sure enough, the ring I received is about an 1/8th of an inch too big. I'm not sure why, but it's big enough that it won't fit. Sigh. So, that's me back to the good folks at The Rigging Shoppe, who (as always) were great to deal with, and happy to take the wrong part back - but now I'm back to waiting for another ring. There's nothing simple (or cheap) about boat repairs.


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