Alas, Poor Windlass

Thirty four years ago, the Ideal Windlass Company manufactured a nice little windlass. Serial number 937. Since that time, that little windlass has been dutifully serving it’s masters on the bow of our boat. Last month, it finally decided to go on strike and refused to do the job it had been conscripted to do. It would pay out chain nicely when anchoring, but was just too tired to pull it all back in again.

Ideal claims that parts are available for 99% of their products manufactured since 1940. (I doubt most companies could make that claim about their products.) An email exchange with Ideal proved them right — at least for the part we needed. A quick call to Ideal when we got back from our trip and the exact replacement motor for our 34 year old windlass was on it’s way to us.

This weekend, Larry and I pulled the old windlass off the bow and brought it into the boat where we could replace the motor. The first step was to drain the lubricant out of the gearbox.

We tipped the motor up at an angle with plastic under it so I would make less of a mess than I usually do. Swapping the motor was straightforward. Just undo three bolts and pull the motor and gearbox apart.

Here is the old motor and drive gear. The new motor was available by itself, or with new bearing and drive gear. I chose to go ahead and get the additional new parts. What the heck. Thirty-four years old. Might as well be sure it’s going to work right. Reassembly was just as easy. We put some liquid gasket material between the two parts and bolted it all back together.

With the windlass whole again, we bolted it back on the bow and reconnected the wiring.

The windlass is back home with the new motor attached. I ran 200 feet of chain out and pulled it all back in without any issues. The motor ran strong the whole time.

Everything is put back together, tested and ready to go. And the good new is I managed not to get oil all over everything and there was no spilling of blood. That might well be a first for me.