I machined the old, worn bronze bush that is meant to support the windlass’ output shaft’s bottom end (and probably the most highly stressed part of the windlass…) to take a HK1512-B drawn cup needle roller bearing insert (I kid you not!). The output shaft was also machined down to 15mm diameter (from 16mm) to suit the new bearing. Once you measure something for machining, you really get a feel for the workmanship that went into it. It was a bit disappointing to find that the accuracy of the machining is not great, with the output shaft top bearing having an interference fit while the drive gear’s fit on the same shaft is a bit “loose”, to say the least.
I replaced the electric motor brushes and re-wired the brush holder. This bit really annoyed me, as it required a third removal of the windlass when it only turned about three revolutions under load… It would appear that the brushes had absorbed grease and, under load, the heat of the current flowing through the brushes would cause a film of grease to be deposited on the commutator – end of windlass! Further frustration was caused by the fact that South Pacific wouldn’t sell me the brushes. I was told to send the windlass in for a quote and repair (yeah, right, throw good money after bad?). When I showed the electric motor to my local auto-electrician (Paul Bagnalls in Mona Vale), he was not impressed with the small brushes, given that they had to carry higher currents than your average starter motor. He reluctantly sold me a set of starter motor brushes (thought I was wasting my time and money), which I then sanded down to the correct size using a belt-sander, holding the brushes in the vice! Not elegant, I grant you, but it worked! The brush holder was also re-wired with heavier guage wire.
Fortunately, it appears the windlass has now had a new lease on life, having picked up the anchor three times on the weekend. My next move was going to be replacement. The modification of the output shaft has removed all the slop and wobble from the capstan – let’s hope it lasts a bit longer than the original!