Sailing by Karen Hale
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How to Service a winch

John Marsh, skipper of rebellion talks through the process of servicing a winch.


  • White Spirit
  • Grease
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Oil
  • Plastic bag to keep the parts in
  • Cleaning clothes
  • Tools such as screw drivers etc.

You need to service your winches at least once a year and ideally every six months.

At the top of the winch is either a covering plate or cap, this can be held in place by a circlip which needs to be removed and put into the plastic bag where all the parts will go prior to cleaning.

Removing the circlip will allow you to remove the drum or bell. Under the bell are two roller bearings, that need to be removed before you can access the gear spindle which keeps two cogs called the the ratchet gear and the gear in place. These two cogs are the speed controls allowing the winch to be turned quickly or slowly. Inside the cogs are pawls which are spring loaded, to keep the cogs in tight. Also under the bell near the top is a little plastic keep, which keeps the spindle in place.

Clean all the components with white spirit and cleaning cloths.

Once everything is clean, add grease to items such as the roller bearings, while items such as the pawls, only need a light oiling. Now for the tricky part, putting it all back together again.

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