Cleaning a winch

After a month of sailing around, it was back to my job *cue sad trombone noises*

Also, as if to emphasise that summer and fun is over for the foreseeable future it began to rain. A bunch. This meant I couldn’t do my inital plan of re-coring the deck, replacing chainplates or rebedding portholes, so that left me the option of either (re)(re)repacking the rudder stuffing box or doing something else. As the stuffing box is a real pain to reach and I am v lazy, I went with cleaning out a winch.

Now I hadn’t ever done this, and I don’t know the last time they were done at all, so they were feeling… gummy. I was slightly worried about all the tales of expensive pieces flying off into the ocean never to be found again so I’d avoided doing this but as it turned out those stories seem to be exaggerated. It was actually pretty simple (yet messy)

The whole thing is held together by a split ring, and removing that was easy


Then it was just a matter of pulling the drum up and off


It’s actually a very simple piece of equipment, consisting of a main shaft that’s geared at each end, two circlets (not sure thats a word) of bearings and then two gears.

I soaked everything to clean it, originally in diesel and then I bought a degreaser which worked a lot better (and took some paint off the drum)


All clean!


The objective was to get all the old grease off, which took a while as whoever did this last had obviously decided to go with the ‘JUST FILL ‘ER UP BOYS’  method and everything was covered with a very very thick layer of grease. Eventually it came off, and I had to reapply a thin layer of new grease.

Except the pawls (little bits that stop the winch going the wrong way) which got a layer of machine oil.

Then it was just putting everything back together and then spending a huge amount of time cleaning up the grease and oil that seemed to have found it’s way into every crack of the area (including me). I need to get less messy! I also managed to get my new jeans covered in grease. RIP.

Once everything was back, I tested it, and it made a very satisfying CLICK CLICK CLICK and spun a lot easier, than the rather gummy action of before. Now I just have to do the remaining 3! (sigh)




  1. Ah……. the skills we learn by owning a boat. Glad you are having a great as an owner. The new jeans are not meant for boating as I can attest to after, like you, ruined a pair.

Leave a Reply