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Old 09-09-2019, 07:16 AM   #1
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Sandblast windlass gearbox?

Hello all,

The motor on my Lewmar concept one windlass has failed and I am in the process of replacing it. If possible, I'd like to replace the motor and reuse the gearbox, which will save about $600. As you can see in the pic, the gear box has a lot of corrosion/caked salt under the anodizing/powder coating treatment but the gears still turn freely and the metal underneath is still very solid.

It really just needs to be cleaned up and repainted. Pretty sure it is aluminum.

What are your thoughts on the best way to do this? Maybe sandblasting? Should I paint it or leave it bare? I'm not a big fan of anodized or powder coated aluminum in a salt water environment.

Thanks
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:42 AM   #2
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Suggest you tear the gear box down and replace seals and inspect other internals. Once torn down the externals can be assessed for best way to clean up the housing. Preventing it from getting gunked up as shown should be high on your list.

What does your manual say for maintenance?
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:47 AM   #3
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Yes. Most of the gunk actually came under the powder coating treatment. It bubbled off, much like the powder coating did on my aluminum door fames, except even worse. While I hose it off occasionally, this unit lives under the deck in the anchor locker with two anchors, 100 feet of chain and 300 feet of line; all salty, all the time. It's a harsh environment and there is not much I can do to change that, unfortunately.


It's 15 years old, I'm surprised it has done as well as it has.



Good suggestion on the seals.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:08 AM   #4
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Aluminum and salt water are a bad combination.

I would try to find someone that does military grade anodizing, then paint it with Awlgrip per their process.

You need to find out if Awlgrip will stick to anodizing.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:49 AM   #5
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Agree with anodizing but note that any finish you put on will degrade once it is scratched or chipped so eventually it will return to it's current heavily oxidized state. Put a piece of EPDM on top of it to minimize scratched from dropped chain.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:25 AM   #6
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It is going to be tough to get every last bit of corrosion blasted off so any finish you put on will probably flake off eventually. But if you can get another 15 years out of it that would not be too bad.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:38 AM   #7
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You sure you can't find a good used unit in your area? I have seen many used windlasses for sale.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:10 AM   #8
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How about using a muffin fan to move the wet air out and improve the chances of any new finish surviving. My windlass is pushing 40 and though it doesn't look new any more, by comparison with yours, mine is under 2 yrs old. It is all about the wet, salty environs.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:23 AM   #9
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A commercial powder coating shop can take care of the sand blasting for you, which is part of their process anyway. I have good experience with powder coating; as with anything it's the quality of the application. But once sand blasted, than Awlgrip or Imron, to name two I have first hand experience with, can be applied with the proper primers.

Have you looked into just having the motor rebuilt?
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:38 PM   #10
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Took it to my local mechanic to see what he thought, he recommended Vic's DC electric so I brought it over there. Vic is going to head blast it, prime and paint, service the gears, replace all seals for $250.00.

He's done quite a few of them in the past.

He showed me some of his other work, it looked good. I discussed rebuilding the motor, but he felt like it wasn't worth it, since the motor can be replaced for under $300. I agree.

He felt that sandblasting would be too aggressive and might compromise some of the mating surfaces.

$500 or so all in, seems pretty good to me. I wasn't ready for a new windlass. If I can get four or five years out of it I will be happy.

I really think the corrosion is partly a result of a bad powder coating job, along with where it lives. The chain doesn't hit the gear box when it falls. And the entire coating is bubbling up, not just one area. If you notice, the motor, which is just painted steel, is no where near as corroded as the gear box. The new gear boxes from lewmar are black, not white and look a little different in the photos. I suspect they had some coating issues.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:49 PM   #11
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Good deal! Any chance you can fresh water rinse your chain as it comes in? Sadly a rope rode holds moisture, salt laden at that so not sure if rinsing would help that section of rode.

We fresh water rinse our all chain rode during retrieval. After 16 years the gear case looks pristine, even though hidden away in the anchor locker. Time for new seals though.
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:20 PM   #12
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I would blast it to bare metal, passivate it, paint with zinc chromate primer (twice) and then coat it with automotive undercoating out of a spray can. Have had same problem with powder coating AL, never again.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:25 AM   #13
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A grinder with an stiff wire brush and Rustoleum aluminum primer , with an oil based paint (auto rattle can?) should have it looking good for years, cost under $25.00.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:17 AM   #14
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However it gets cleaned and primed I would use a 2 part epoxy paint.
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