Winch stuck you broke me: now I’ll take you apart and clean you!


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With heavy use, cleaning the winches should be done at least once a year, especially if our boat is at sea all year round, attacked by salt spray constantly. it is important to perform the operation in an orderly manner, noting the sequence of the components we are going to disassemble from the winch. The following tools may be useful for disassembling and maintaining a winch: latex gloves, wrenches of various sizes, a screwdriver of the appropriate size for the screws we are going to work on, a hammer, diesel fuel, a bucket for storing the various components we disassemble, brushes, and a toothbrush.


The first, and obligatory, operation is to disassemble the central screw, usually a slotted one, that locks the bell.Once this is removed, the roller bearings must then be pulled out to check for wear and any play in action. At this point we can decide to wash the winch still attached to the deck or, much better, unscrew the locknuts below deck, detach it, and immerse it along with all its components in the bucket with enough diesel fuel to submerge them completely.


Once the various blocks are removed and the winch is completely disassembled, we can do the cleaning in the hidden corners of the gears with the brush and brush, removing the dirt and residue of the old grease. We can take the opportunity to clean the deck under the winch and
Check that the holes for the pins are in order. Once we start reassembling the winch, it is important to remember to line its base in contact with the deck with new insulation material to ward off seepage.


  • The tree is the central body. Made of bronze or steel, it is the element around which the winch mechanisms rotate
  • The main gears, are pinions that have to bear very high loads. They are made of steel
  • Disassembling a winch requires removing a few blocks located at the top.
  • Self tailing allows the sheets to be wedged between the circular cheeks and “spit out” the recovered line. Fits the diameter of the sheet
  • The bell, where sheets and ropes are furled, equipped with a non-slip surface
    “sandpaper” type. Is made of stainless steel or bronze.
  • Roller bearings are the element that allows the bell to rotate around the shaft without locking. The bearings are stainless steel, enclosed in a cage of self-lubricating material.
  • The base is attached to the hull with through pins and insulated with Sikaflex®. Should disassembly be necessary, it is important to restore the insulation with new silicone
The review we have brought you is taken from the
Brand New Dictionary of Boating
, a special publication of the Journal of Sailing with lots of useful information and a wealth of photographs to describe practical interventions:
– At, and you’ll receive it conveniently at home ($16.90 + postage)
– In digital version for Apple and iOS devices in the Sailing Newspaper App
– In digital version for Android devices in the Sailing Newspaper App 




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