Over the past several days, I've been servicing most of the remaining winches on my boat (I have one left to do). You might recall from this post, I ran across some interesting things while cleaning and servicing that winch.
Well, the similar bad servicing was found on the other winches as well. I spent on average about 4 hours per winch disassembling and cleaning the assemblies. Most of the problems have come from the fact that there was way too much grease used in the assembly. This was compounded by the fact that the winches had apparently not been serviced in quite a while so some of the grease dried.
In the first winch, the dried grease glued in the collets so it was almost impossible to disassemble the winch without destroying the collets. The next two winches came apart easier, the only problems encountered there were that dried grease in the teeth off the gears took a lot of work to clean out. The following winch, the one I just finished and prompted this post, demonstrated yet another problem with failing to regularly and properly service a winch.
On this winch, the collets came out ok...well, they were gooey but they came out. The problem was that the main spindle wouldn't slide out of the winch housing like it should. I could pull it up maybe an eighth of an inch and then it would stop. I tried using a locking winch handle to pull it up but it wouldn't budge. Even banging on the handle with my hand wouldn't budge the spindle.
Given my recent experience with cleaning all the dried grease out of the other winches, I immediately grabbed some spray solvent and worked it into the mechanism. After 30 minutes or so, I was finally able to free the spindle. A few hours cleaning gobs of grease out of the mechanisms (sometimes using a pick to chip the dried grease out) and the winch is finally cleaned. Assembled correctly according to the Lewmar instructions, and the winch now has much less drag and seems to be working much better.
So, do me a favor. If you have a winch and can't remember when you last serviced it, please go do it. The sanity you save may be your own. If you aren't sure how to service your winch, there seem to be a number of videos available on Youtube to help.