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Pro Tip: How To Maintain A Working Windlass

When it comes to your windlass, what you "don’t" see is what needs the most TLC.

It’s pretty obvious what you should do above deck to keep your windlass running smoothly. At least once a year, preferably during spring layup, discombobulate the mechanicals and apply waterproof marine grease to the appropriate parts, in accordance with your owner’s manual. Also check the oil in the device’s gearbox, and add more per instructions if necessary.

But hey, what should you do belowdecks, where your windlass electrics dwell?

The answer’s simpler than you’d think. After you’ve used rags or, better yet, a Shop-Vac to clean everything off—meaning all the cobwebs, dirt and detritus—spray the motor terminals, foot-switch terminals and terminals on the reversing solenoids with a good, aerosol-type rust inhibitor such as CRC Long Life Anti-Rust Lubricant. Alternatively, you might also go with a product such as WD-40. It’s a bit easier to find around the house, perhaps. And as long as you’re riding the rust-inhibiting trail, why not give your battery and isolator terminals the same loving treatment?

One last word of advice: Before you drop the hatch on that seldom-visited anchor locker of yours, check the electric motor hugging the overhead. It kindly does all the work, after all. Look for water leaks and intrusions in the way of the motor’s cooling ports, especially, and deal with problems immediately. Motor problems, sad to say, are the primary reason anchor windlasses fail when they are desperately needed. 

For more tips like this, visit the Passagemaker Pro Tips Archive

Capt. Bill Pike is deputy editor of our sister publication Power & Motoryacht.