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Old 12-28-2017, 12:40 PM   #1
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Windlass dragging

I am looking for ideas about what might be going on with my Maxwell, 12 volt windlass. When letting the anchor out, the windlass starts running well and then starts to lag. If I give it 10 seconds rest, it will again go fast and then start to bog down. Same thing when pulling up the anchor. We donít pull the boat with windlass. Sometimes, after a couple of fits and starts she will be fine.

The windlass electrical is supplied from the starboard engine and fed with 2/0 cables. This happens regardless of whether I use foot buttons! Switches at the helms, or the wireless remote.

Thanks in advance for thoughts on where I ought to look first,

Gordon
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Old 12-28-2017, 12:54 PM   #2
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High amp loads pull down the voltage on depleted or worn down lead batts.

Are you sure they're 100% Full when starting? Have you checked all connections for resistance?

If so, likely batts need replacing.

Some chemistries hold voltage higher under high-amp loads.

LFP is ideal.

But going to higher AH capacity helps if you stick to lead.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:07 PM   #3
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To expand a bit on John's post above, which I suspect is correct, remove the chain from the gypsy and see if it slows down with no load on it. If it doesn't then it is very likely to be the battery or the connections.

Check each connection from the battery, through the circuit breaker, the solenoids and to the motor terminals. If you are pulling up the anchor and it happens, put your hand on each connections. Tighten any that are hot.

Check the battery voltage at the motor terminals and the battery terminals when you are raising the anchor. Your battery should be at 12.0 (or 13 if the engine is running) and the voltage at the motor terminals should be no more than 1 volt lower.

If the battery is low then it is weak. If the voltage drop is more than 1 then you have a bad connection.

David
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:50 PM   #4
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does it make any difference if the engine is running or not?
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:12 PM   #5
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As David says, connections and solenoids. Your batteries are fine if your description of what happens is correct. If you are using the start batteries to power the windlass, that is probably a bad idea, they are not (or should not be) deep cycle batteries and a continuous load from a windlass is very hard on them. You might consider rewiring to the house bank?

First, check the grounds, clean them thoroughly, then go to the positive terminals. After all the connections are checked, the solenoids are the weak link. I would have at least 2 spares and be prepared to substitute them for trouble-shooting. The old solenoids will come apart with some coaxing and the contacts can be cleaned with an abrasive, washed with contact cleaner and then they can be reused. The inrush current of a strong electrical motor is very large and can pit them.

Remember when operating to start the windlass then let it run as long as you can. Starting and stopping will ruin the contacts faster. I've watched people start and stop a windlass motor a dozen times to get it "just right." Don't do that unless you have fun changing solenoids.

Also, many windlasses have under-spec'd solenoids, make sure yours are not too light-duty, are rated 'continuous' and can handle a large current. Many start solenoids are too small and can't handle the heat or the load. The big one also cost more but the bigger the better. Using a dab of dielectric grease on all the outside contacts and on the outer surfaces of the connection will help prevent corrosion.

Have fun!
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:59 PM   #6
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I'm not familiar with Maxwell units. But a similar thing was happening to me with my Ideal Windlass, and the issue was low oil in the gearbox, resulting in the thrust bearings loading up and binding. So, if your Maxwell has gears needing oil or grease then check that as well as the electrical aspects.
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Old 12-28-2017, 09:27 PM   #7
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No difference?

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Originally Posted by bayview View Post
does it make any difference if the engine is running or not?
I have done it only with the engine running.
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Old 12-28-2017, 09:41 PM   #8
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Have fun?

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Originally Posted by Xsbank View Post
As David says, connections and solenoids. Your batteries are fine if your description of what happens is correct. If you are using the start batteries to power the windlass, that is probably a bad idea, they are not (or should not be) deep cycle batteries and a continuous load from a windlass is very hard on them. You might consider rewiring to the house bank?

First, check the grounds, clean them thoroughly, then go to the positive terminals. After all the connections are checked, the solenoids are the weak link. I would have at least 2 spares and be prepared to substitute them for trouble-shooting. The old solenoids will come apart with some coaxing and the contacts can be cleaned with an abrasive, washed with contact cleaner and then they can be reused. The inrush current of a strong electrical motor is very large and can pit them.

Remember when operating to start the windlass then let it run as long as you can. Starting and stopping will ruin the contacts faster. I've watched people start and stop a windlass motor a dozen times to get it "just right." Don't do that unless you have fun changing solenoids.

Also, many windlasses have under-spec'd solenoids, make sure yours are not too light-duty, are rated 'continuous' and can handle a large current. Many start solenoids are too small and can't handle the heat or the load. The big one also cost more but the bigger the better. Using a dab of dielectric grease on all the outside contacts and on the outer surfaces of the connection will help prevent corrosion.

Have fun!
Thanks xsbank. Fun is what I have between projects. We are in the Bahamas and every day is an adventure.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:09 PM   #9
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Don't just tighten suspect connections, ensure clean bare metal, if you see corrosion, spray with Fluid Film, Lanocote, or Boeshield, tighten well then try to seal, maybe with heat shrink?

As stated check for voltage drop from one end to the other, hopefully your wire gauge is plenty heavy.
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I have done it only with the engine running.
If everything else checks out, temporarily substitute a known good newish batt for your existing bank see if that changes anything.
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Old 12-31-2017, 09:58 AM   #10
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If the windlass motor has removable brushes you might check them to make sure they are not sticking and losing contact. May need to clean brushes and holders.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:54 AM   #11
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as a follow-on to bglad's message, the brush contacts may have smeared conductive dust across the gaps in the armature and need to be undercut again.
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Old 12-31-2017, 11:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsbank View Post
If you are using the start batteries to power the windlass, that is probably a bad idea, they are not (or should not be) deep cycle batteries and a continuous load from a windlass is very hard on them. You might consider rewiring to the house bank?

I donít agree for several reasons:

1) If your house bank is depleted and near the end of its useful life, and you have to raise the anchor, you could have problems. Iíd rather have a capable starter bank at the ready with a near 100% SOC.

2) The amperage demand from a windlass is more similar to a starter motor and Iíd prefer to have the cold cranking amps from a battery better suited for a high amp draw.

The starter bank on our boat is for engine starts and the windlass is also connected to that source. After engine start, we typically combine the house and starter bank and bring the rpms up a bit at neutral to for the alternator to bring together all contributions to raise the anchor. It would be interesting to use a clamp meter to determine the relative contribution of each source.

Jim
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Old 12-31-2017, 12:47 PM   #13
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How old is the windlass? The older Maxwells use a starter motor, while the newer ones have an actual electric motor.


Agree clean the contacts and connections. If it is an older version the starter motor maybe getting ready to go. I have to replace my windlass this past summer. It 29 years old.


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Old 12-31-2017, 01:11 PM   #14
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I am on the side of windlass being a deep cycling load, if engine is not running should be powered by House.

IMO House should be replaced when State of Health reaches 20-25% as per 20-hour load test or before.

At a larger AH capacity it should be much more capable of carrying high-amp loads.

If running off 'Starter' then that should be a beefed up bank with the same type batteries as the larger House.

If joining engine/alt power and both banks every time windlass is used then it doesn't matter, all the above becomes moot.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:06 PM   #15
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I ran my windlass on the house side, but there were some unintended consequences. These DC motors are pretty "dirty" , like starter motors. I cringed when the windlass turned on and the chartplotter went into reset mode. The wiring was large enough, but the surge was not handled well.
If I were to do it again, I would have no issue using a engine start battery, and if the wiring run was too long, then it would be a dedicated battery. The savings in copper wire alone could easily pay for the battery.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:20 PM   #16
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I was wrong

I rechecked the wiring diagram and learned it its connected to the houses bank which is charged by the starboard alternator when under way.

The windlass is 15 years old.... Original to the boat in 2003 when she was built.
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Old 12-31-2017, 03:16 PM   #17
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Look at the panel ammeter while the windlass is running. If the current INCREASES when the motor slows, that points to a mechanical binding issue.
I would detach the chain for these measurements.
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Old 12-31-2017, 03:39 PM   #18
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You can do this at the dock:
Run the chain out 30 seconds then back in 30 seconds. Feel the the relay box for overheating and any other connection you can reasonably reach within a couple minutes. From what you describe, my guess is the problem is in the heavy cable connections, relay contacts, breaker, or the windless brushes, not the control circuit. The problem area will be hot unless its the brushes.
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