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Old 06-15-2015, 08:44 AM   #1
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Angry Anchor windlass electrical switch issue.

I was hoping this may have occurred to someone else that might have some insight?

Weekend raft up.

Arrived at location early and decided I would put out the anchors for this weekend. I turned my Windlass control rocker switch at helm to the on position. I used the up / down rocker switch at helm to drop anchor. I asked the Admiral to use the foot switch on bow to pull up some slack on line.
The next thirty seconds were unbelievable.
She hit the switch and released and would not stop. I told her to let off on the foot switch at the bow and she said I did? I looked while the Windlass continued to wind in and I hit the up down switch at the helm. I hit the down on the helm switch and it temporarily stop the motor but as soon as I let off it continued to wind in. I than hit the on / off power switch at helm and nothing. The windlass continued to pull in until the anchor had hit the pulpit. I ran down below and used the main 12V cutoff switch to kill power for the entire boat. Just in time for my brother in law to show up in his boat and watch?
Now Iím dead in the water and shaking my head thinking, WTF? I ask him to throw me a line and pull me away from another party of boats until I could disconnect my Windlass and throw the main switch back on. He ties me off and Iím looking at the chain locker, motor and solenoid valve for the motor. The Admiral looks at me and says I didnít do anything? Everything looks fine. I pull the three Amp fuse in locker for deck switches and turn power back on and the motor takes off. Finally I cut the red wire going to the windlass motor. Turn main switch back on and start engine. Since I have limited tools and came out to relax I do not look at it until I got back to the marina the next day.

So I start pulling switches and looking at them thinking Iíll find a bad wire or something obvious, not? So I break out the multi-meter and think to myself donít know if Iím going to figure this out? The specification sheet, electrical diagram shows two wires going to a 35 Amp 12 V breaker/ isolator switch. I do not have this switch at the helm. I have a on off rocker switch with five wires going to it, two red on one side and three yellow on other side of switch. The boat is a 30' Mainship pilot with Lewmar V700 windlass.

What would be the best way to test the switches?
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:43 AM   #2
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Where is your windless breaker? Everyone should know where it is and how to shut off the power to the windless (some folks shut it off whenever not using the windless). You must install a breaker (Lewmar says 35 Amp for your windless) in the main power feed to the windless first thing and as you cut the power cable you have perhaps a good place to start thinking about where to d the install.



Sounds like a short, corroded switch (check the one that started the mess, the deck switch your wife used) or an arced and frozen relay.

I have a protected toggle switch at the helm to shut off low current to the control box to prevent use of the helm control or deck switches when not wanted. This would not protect from a frozen relay like you had but does stop something or someone from accidentally bumping the windless into up or down.

Of course take the rode off the gypsy while testing.
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:57 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jskinner30PII View Post
I was hoping this may have occurred to someone else that might have some insight?

Weekend raft up.

Arrived at location early and decided I would put out the anchors for this weekend. I turned my Windlass control rocker switch at helm to the on position. I used the up / down rocker switch at helm to drop anchor. I asked the Admiral to use the foot switch on bow to pull up some slack on line.
The next thirty seconds were unbelievable.
She hit the switch and released and would not stop. I told her to let off on the foot switch at the bow and she said I did? I looked while the Windlass continued to wind in and I hit the up down switch at the helm. I hit the down on the helm switch and it temporarily stop the motor but as soon as I let off it continued to wind in. I than hit the on / off power switch at helm and nothing. The windlass continued to pull in until the anchor had hit the pulpit. I ran down below and used the main 12V cutoff switch to kill power for the entire boat. Just in time for my brother in law to show up in his boat and watch?
Now Iím dead in the water and shaking my head thinking, WTF? I ask him to throw me a line and pull me away from another party of boats until I could disconnect my Windlass and throw the main switch back on. He ties me off and Iím looking at the chain locker, motor and solenoid valve for the motor. The Admiral looks at me and says I didnít do anything? Everything looks fine. I pull the three Amp fuse in locker for deck switches and turn power back on and the motor takes off. Finally I cut the red wire going to the windlass motor. Turn main switch back on and start engine. Since I have limited tools and came out to relax I do not look at it until I got back to the marina the next day.

So I start pulling switches and looking at them thinking Iíll find a bad wire or something obvious, not? So I break out the multi-meter and think to myself donít know if Iím going to figure this out? The specification sheet, electrical diagram shows two wires going to a 35 Amp 12 V breaker/ isolator switch. I do not have this switch at the helm. I have a on off rocker switch with five wires going to it, two red on one side and three yellow on other side of switch. The boat is a 30' Mainship pilot with Lewmar V700 windlass.

What would be the best way to test the switches?
Sounds like a possible problem with the foot switch on the bow (frozen in the closed position) or the solenoid. I start by checking the switch for continuity with a multimeter. Not sure how to check the solenoid.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:05 AM   #4
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Sounds like a possible problem with the foot switch on the bow (frozen in the closed position) or the solenoid. I start by checking the switch for continuity with a multimeter. Not sure how to check the solenoid.

It should click with power and move to and from the contacts and the contacts should be clean, the return spring should be strong and intact.

My guess is the foot switch is corroded and the spring in the switch is shot so when she stepped on the switch it closed but would not release. The deck switches live in a bad neighborhood for electrical stuff with only a thin rubber cover protecting them.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:24 AM   #5
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Thanks Scott and Carolena.

I did depress the up deck switch and it felt like it clicked? It was a real soft push though. The point about the on off switch at helm giving power to deck switches makes sense. I thought the control power switch controlled both the rocker up down at the helm and deck switches? Maybe I do have the 35Amp breaker / isolator switch on the boat. I have never noticed it before. I would think that they would mount the windless breaker at the helm. My brother in law has the same switch on his boat. Maybe they installed it under the helm? I need to do some more investigating. Regardless it was working before the malfunction. It could be the relay / solenoid also.
Iíll keep looking and see what I find out.
Jeff.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:27 AM   #6
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I have a Pilot 34 with the same windlass and this is how it works:


The main power to the windlass at the bow is supplied by the DC engine room panel which has breakers for windlass, bilge pumps, etc. This breaker does what the one pictured above does.


The control wiring I think but am not sure is supplied by the helm breaker on the inside panel. You turn on the helm windlass switch and then the helm up/down switch or the bow switches control the windlass by supply low current to the solenoid which is installed in the bow which pulls in a relay and supplies high current to the windlass.


So what I think happened is that the contacts on the solenoid froze shut. That is why it kept pulling in and even turning off the windlass on off switch did no good.


If the foot switch had frozen closed then turning off the switch at the helm would have stopped it.


So you most probably need a new solenoid. 95% of marine electricians would just replace the solenoid and hope that fixed it. If you want to be the 5% er then trip the breaker in the engine compartment (you have to use very small screw driver or something ponted to do this. That will block the heavy current to the solenoid/windlass. Then try the switch again and see if it sticks by measuring its voltage output.


If I am wrong and all of the windlass circuits- high amperage and control signals are controlled by that breaker then you will have to disconnect the heavy wire to the windlass motor to do the foot switch test.


My problem with the windlass was the opposite and neither the foot switch or the helm up/down switch would move the windlass. I was one of the 5% ers and diagnosed it by seeing voltage at the foot switch but no heavy current from the solenoid, ie the solenoid was bad. Since yours is the opposite problem you need to remove power from the windlass motor first by either tripping the engine room breaker or disconnecting the leads to it. Wrap them with electrical tape for safety.


I found it on line from some obscure marine chandlery by googling Lewmar solenoid and the part number at half the price of Defender.


David
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:01 PM   #7
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Holy cow...one thing at a time.


See how the solenoid is supplied power.


It can be done a couple of ways.


Possibly the panel switch is supplied by one power source and a lazy installer supplied the foot switches directly from the solenoid so there is no cutoff without cutting that wire or hopefully pulling the fuse that was installed.


Trace the wires...understand the flow of electricity before running around in panic...


Every used boat can be different...what anyone suggests might have little to do with what someone did to your boat.
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:32 PM   #8
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David,
(The main power to the windlass at the bow is supplied by the DC engine room panel which has breakers for windlass, bilge pumps, etc. This breaker does what the one pictured above does.)

This is my panal in the cabin. I don't have anything that has Windlass listed.I do have the generator switch but the rest are what is pictured. I have the manual, maybe it will list it or I guess I'll trace it out.
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:37 PM   #9
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Solenoid. They are the heavy current handlers and the contacts get pitted and arced from use. Solenoids can frequently be serviced by dismantling them and cleaning them, polishing the contacts but they are cheap; buy generic good quality, not necessarily branded by the windlass company and replace them.

The same goes for bow thruster solenoids.

But the important point has been made, know where the breaker is and be prepared to go for it in case of a runaway. Boats are not like cars where if something fails you just pull to the side of the road. You must KNOW how your boat's systems work. This important knowledge step is an important component of boating.
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Old 06-25-2015, 07:51 AM   #10
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Not this particular windlass issue, but

Related, but slightly off thread...
2005 MS34T. My MS manual says it's a 90 amp windlass breaker. My Lemar documentation says that I need a 90 amp breaker. So, why do I have a 50 amp breaker that pops most inconveniently?
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Old 06-25-2015, 09:41 AM   #11
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Longjohn,
I called the local Marlow/ mainship dealer in MD. They did say it was a 90Amp breaker under the sink and not on the main AC/DC panel for my 30' pilot. Some models had breakers installed in the engin room like my manual states.
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Old 06-25-2015, 01:56 PM   #12
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Related, but slightly off thread...
2005 MS34T. My MS manual says it's a 90 amp windlass breaker. My Lemar documentation says that I need a 90 amp breaker. So, why do I have a 50 amp breaker that pops most inconveniently?

If a 50a breaker was installed in a load requiring a 90a breaker then that is called a F@*% UP. It is no wander why you are having inconvenient pops. Oh well at least it's not a fire hazard.

Soon they will be even more inconvenient non-resetting breaker in the tripped position events.

Tripping breakers have a finite life, and it's not real long.
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:25 AM   #13
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It is a 50 Amp breaker under the sink at the main DC switch, not a 90 as I was told.

I replaced the contactor / relay (Item # 002640 from Defender marine), and the Windlass is operating by all switches.

The one remaining problem I noitice is the fifty Amp breaker. While I was operating the windlass my brother went down below and hit the red push button and, nothing. The Windlass did not shut off. I'm thinking the breaker switch is bad? I noticed it does not click when you push the button? So while the Windlass is working fine I still will need to shut off the main DC switch if I have another run away windlass issue.
This weekend I'll have a chance to open up the main DC panel and identify the switch and see why it's not working.
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Old 06-29-2015, 08:04 AM   #14
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Those style breakers don't make an audible sound when you push the red button and the yellow flag comes out.


Doubt it would fail in the continuous power mode...guessing something is hooked up wrong or the breaker isn't for the windlass...but I could be wrong...check it with a meter.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:06 PM   #15
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My undersized 50 amp breaker is under the stairwell next to the battery switches.
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Old 06-21-2017, 11:14 AM   #16
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Windlass solenoid problem

I have a slightly different issue. I have a Maxwell 1200, with foot switches at the bow and 2 newly installed remote switches at the up and down helm stations. I was on the boat the other night when the windlass self-activated trying to deploy the anchor (the safety line held it fast, but the chain kept spilling out. Neither the foot switch nor the remote switch would stop the windlass. I killed all of the battery switches and it stopped. My mechanic says he cannot find a short or any other problem. I can leave the windlass breaker in the off position which means the windlass cannot run, but am concerned that when I put the breaker into the on position it coulad start the windlass, and may continue to run which leaves me without control or it could continue to run even after I have stopped running it from the foot or remote switches. Has anyone else had this problem
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Old 06-21-2017, 11:39 AM   #17
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Same answer. Trace the system, find the breaker for the windlass motor and the breakers for the control circuits and test each one. If you recently had remotes added, look there first. You really need to you some research to understand how it all works. The switch circuits you installed should be fused or breakered to protect the wires, where are they?
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Old 06-21-2017, 04:46 PM   #18
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Same answer. Trace the system, find the breaker for the windlass motor and the breakers for the control circuits and test each one. If you recently had remotes added, look there first. You really need to you some research to understand how it all works. The switch circuits you installed should be fused or breakered to protect the wires, where are they?
Thanks. The windlass motor breaker I found. It's a push-pull on off, I would guess at least 90A, possibly 135A. It cuts the power to the windlass entirely.

As for the new switches, does it matter if they are separately fused in this scenario? The problem isn't that the switches don't work--they do work. They just didn't work to stop the windlass after it started on its own. It's that the windlass decided to work on its own, with no switch involved. When tested with a meter, there are no anomalies and we couldn't get the system to fail. Is it possible for the windlass solenoid to have an intermittent short of some kind? If so, how do you tell?
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Old 06-21-2017, 05:50 PM   #19
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It's common for solenoids carrying heavy amp loads to weld the contacts together or become so pitted to not make contact enough to allow electricity to pass. Nobody can trouble shoot a problem like yours without a wiring diagram including the owner added wiring.
Everything (wires, switches) needs a fuse/breaker somewhere in the line. Fuses/breakers are for safety. If a unprotected wire carrying power should short to a ground all the power of the battery will pass thru that line w/o a fuse. Eventually the wire will become red hot, burn off the insulation and start other fires.
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Old 06-21-2017, 06:18 PM   #20
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It's common for solenoids carrying heavy amp loads to weld the contacts together or become so pitted to not make contact enough to allow electricity to pass. Nobody can trouble shoot a problem like yours without a wiring diagram including the owner added wiring.
Everything (wires, switches) needs a fuse/breaker somewhere in the line. Fuses/breakers are for safety. If a unprotected wire carrying power should short to a ground all the power of the battery will pass thru that line w/o a fuse. Eventually the wire will become red hot, burn off the insulation and start other fires.

Thanks and I agree with your observations about wiring, fusing, breakering and safety and will triple check that.

I wanted to keep to the question of what possibly might cause the windlass to start running with no switch being thrown. Assume that the wiring is correct and that the switches operate the windlass normally, but that when the event I described occurred in which the windlass started trying to pay the chain out, the windlass switches would not operate to override the situation.

One of the other correspondents noted that the solenoid points could 'weld' shut. I understand that, but I don't understand the intermittence. Can a solenoid be intermittently in failure mode but then work correctly afterward?
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