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sort of OT manual: brake winch

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  • sort of OT manual: brake winch

    Picked up a little sailboat a few weeks ago, it has a 600lb lifting keel on it with a brake winch.

    Took it out for a 3 day trip, and noticed that the winch is at -least- three times as hard to lower as it is to raise, both hands and a couple breaks to lower it when you can raise it at one shot without too much effort.

    Could someone with experience tell me if these things are rebuildable or adjustable? and is there a recommended lube for them? Or are they supposed to be that hard to let down?

    Been trying to find an owners manual or at least a parts break down of any brake winch at all but haven't been able to find anything on line unless I want to buy a whole new one.

    Thanks in advance

  • #2
    It's been at least 20 years since I dealt with one on a friend's boat, but I remember it had cams that released the brake when torque was applied to the handle. Normally, the cam surfaces and brake wear at the same rate, and the effort required to release the brake stays about the same. It sounds like the "down" cam on your winch has worn more than usual, and it's not releasing the brake all the way when you want to lower the keel.

    Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.


    • #3
      Reminds me of a McGregor 22

      A friend had a McGregor 22 with the swing keel. It was a nice trailer sailer. Would a worm geared winch be a better solution? Harbor Freight has one:



      • #4
        Tore into it

        Tore into it and didn't notice any real wear, but did notice some dried lube that looked and felt like moly, so put a little on. I'll see what it does this weekend when I head back out to the big lake.

        this must be a low-buck winch, it just has a couple friction disks on each side of the ratchet wheel/pawl assembly, so in order to lower the load you have to fight the friction holding the shaft in place. Doesn't look like a very safe design to me, if the friction disks go out it looks like there'll be nothing to hold the load other than the handle itself.
        Thinking the winch itself may be oversized for the load. The keel only weighs 600lbs, but winch seems to be a 1 ton. It seems that if it's designed for holding one ton, then with a 600lbs keel you would have to provide the difference to overcome the brake by muscle power.


        The boat is a clone of a macgregor 22, it's a Portager 22, almost identical just a slight bit heavier in the keel and made with slightly thicker fiberglass than the macs I've seen.
        Was never into drop keel trailerable sailboats always liked full keel leave 'em in the water boats, but got this one at a price I'd have been stupid to walk away from. (set of 4 good sails, 10 horse outboard, trailer, and new canvas pop-top tent for $400, at that price I figure I can play with it this season and sell it next year)
        Now I'm looking at that geared winch. I'll have to look it over and see how easily it could be mounted in the boat, seems like it would need nearly the same effort up or down.

        Actually thought of going to an electric one so I could stay at the helm to raise and lower it.