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Old 12-13-2013, 05:08 AM   #1
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Windlass Problem

Hi All,

My boat originally came with a windlass only operatable with a switch at the windlass.
I decided to have a switch fitted at the flybridge, it was connected to the windlass solenoid. When the windlass is used to haul up the anchor under stress, regardless of switch, the depth reading on the GPS is lost and shows dashes, it can be reinstated by turning the GPS off then on.
My marine electrician thinks it could be deterioration of the batteries after a day of being out, but the windlass is connected to the start battery and not the house, and they both tested good.
The only thing I can think of was that the windlass was connected; 3core from solenoid to 7 core (3 wire for windlass and 4 wire for connection of UHF radio to GPS) then further 3 core to windlass flybridge switch. So the windlass switch is running close vicinity to the wires for the UHF to GPS.
But all connections seem to be good and no bare wires touching (AS best I can see).
Does anybody have any idea what might be happening here?
Regards Scott
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Old 12-13-2013, 10:52 AM   #2
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We had the same problem, discovered the windlass was wired to the house battery. Moved it to the start battery, a D8 and always have the engine running before using the windlass. Then removed the combiner switch(1/2/all) so our batteries are never combined except if needed thru a electric combiner that lives in the engine room. The windlass is a huge draw just like the starter on the engine while it is running and electronics don't like the huge load and voltage drop......
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Old 12-13-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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Check the grounds first.
Clean all the connections even if they look OK.
Corrosion can build up between the end eyes and post connections.
You just can't see it.
I find so many Gremlins at the connections.

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Old 12-13-2013, 05:00 PM   #4
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Scott, your problem is that the windlass and the GPS are drawing power from the same battery. When you hit the windlass switch, the GPS sees momentary low voltage and throws a wobbly. The solution is to power the windlass from the start battery, and make sure the GPS is powered from a different battery.
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:08 PM   #5
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Thanks for your replies,

The windlass is on the start battery(I will need to double check this) the boat is new so it should be to attached wiring diagram
I notice the ground for the windlass seems to be coming from the house battery, could this be sucking some current from it?
Both batteries are charged at once
I assume there would not be interference with the windlass and GPS wires grouped together?
Pls see diagrams attached
Regards Scott
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:12 PM   #6
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Measure the voltage at the gps and jog the windlass to see if you get a voltage drop. An analog meter works best for this. If the voltage falls you are either tied into the same battery as the gps or there is a poor connection on a shared ground.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:53 PM   #7
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When the windlass is used to haul up the anchor under stress
The "under stress" part of your comment I think tells it all. When the windless is pulling hard it will be drawing the most current which will cause the greatest voltage drop. As others have suggested, that voltage drop is likely what's killing the GPS.

First I'd suggest confirming that the windless and GPS are actually running off different batteries, and that there isn't some device joining the two batteries together. You said that both banks charge together? How? It sounds like either the devices are not really on different banks, or somehow the banks are joined. This wouldn't be the first time that wiring diagrams and the actual wiring are different. At least you have wiring diagrams - that puts you several steps ahead of many, I suspect.
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Old 12-16-2013, 04:45 PM   #8
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As above a too large voltage drop could be causing the GPS to wink out or a poor ground. Of course the heavier the load the harder the windlass works , the more current it draws and the worse the problem.

I think I would take the windlass ground to the start battery. Under more normal conditions, lighter loads, it should not make a huge amount of difference but it may not be helping. By grounding the windlass at the same battery the + side comes from you eliminate a few connections and a jumper.

If the electronics and the windlass are well and truly connected to different battery sets then the next may be a possibility.

There is another possibility and that is a voltage spike when the windlass motor is disconnected. Any or all coils [motors,realys,etc.] store energy and when de-energized that energy has to go somewhere often causing a reverse voltage spike that is often many times the level of the supply. The deck switch may or may not stop it entirely and at least some of that spike may jump causing trouble.. The spike is very fast and if you could see the deck switch inside you likely would see a large spark. The deckswitch may operate a relay but the same applies to the relay.
Moving the windlass ground to the starter battery may help enough ensuring the proper battery is used as a capacitor to absorb the spike more reliably. At least it should help reduce the problem to other equipment.

If you have a rats nest of connections at the battery terminals it may be worthwhile to get a set of bussbars and clean things up. ! for grounds, one each for the battery banks. Stack the + & - windlass terminals right on top of the starter side battery leads. It maybe won't make a world of difference but a rats nest is trouble and is also much more difficult to work problems through.

You may also need to add some protections for the electronics specifically or do as I do, shut them off first or not start them untill the anchor is up.

This may not be practical on your boat but sometimes is the best way.

But first ensure all connections are clean and tight, the windlass supply and ground are attached to the same battery/ bank.

If the problem persists then some options would be:
-- a dedicated small battery for the sensitive electronics between the battery and them. It would act as a capacitor and if some distance, a few feet, from the main batteries the cable and battery would act as a dissiaptor of the spike energy and voltage stabilizer for the electronics.
-. Some diodes for killing that reverse spike at the motor or at the relay on the motor side so it never gets back to the batteries or the rest of the system. Chose carefully for capacity and voltage
-or other means such as varistor (MOV) which needs to be chosen carefully for capacity and turn on voltage level so the spike never reaches a high level at the electronics.
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Old 12-21-2013, 04:40 PM   #9
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Hi, thankyou all for your consistent help,
I had a look at the batteries the other day and realised the water level were well down in both batteries (would have thought the servicing mechanics would have checked this), more so in the start one(Had to add 3 litres of water to start).
After the water add the start battery become very weak, so I thought best to replace it. I made a few call but did not spend much time shopping as I wanted to have the boat operational for the families holidays. I found a Delkor 150Ah 1050cca sealed that fitted into the existing battery box to replace the standard exide 140Ah 770cca start battery(I do not have a gap between the batteries now). I am hoping this will be ok along side (charging) the standard exide 140ah that is being used for the house. Also when the house battery needs replacing is there a more suitable sort of battery to extend life when on anchor - Would you need more Ah and less cca as you do not need to start an engine?
Thanks Scott
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:53 AM   #10
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Yeah, you have opened a BIG can of BIG worms. Darn electrical systems.
Pics sometimes lie but it looks like you have the 4D size and both are engine starting type batteries.

As a start to educate yourself I suggest you find and buy a copy of
Nigel Calders book Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual and read it. Get the most recent edition. There are some older ones out for fewer $$ there but there is a reason he has updated it twice after the original.

There is too much to deal with in a forum like this without some background knowledge and understanding.

Generally though the engine start battery should be an engine starting battery. Your 4D.

The house battery should be a DEEP Cycle battery. Not the 4D.

Although both are wet cell and lead acid and of similar materials it is their construction, for the most part although not entirely, that differentiates between the two.

The eng. batts use a larger quantity of thinner plates to be able to supply a large burst of power for a relatively short time to get that engine started.

The deep cycles use fewer but much thicker plates to be able to supply a much lower current rate but for many, many hours.

There are other differences but those are the biggest changes and it does matter.

Get used to the terms. CCA and minimum cranking voltage for engines and what most of us refer to as the 20HR rate for deep cycles and then you can compare mfgrs specs better. There is more to it than just that but the book will help.

Neither type are best at the others job. Yes, they can do in a pinch but the life will be shortened, often substantially.


For the engine start you are likely fine as you are now as long as you look after the battery properly. Keep it watered and properly charged. I see you got a sealed unit. You should be OK for a good long time but the type that can be opened and have water ports and can be hydrometer checked are best in the end.

For the house you likely do not have enough battery but that you will have to determine as only you can see what equipment you have aboard, how you use it and for how long do you stay out or intend to stay out. The book will help with that.

For the house, Many of us use what is called a Golf Cart battery. It is 6v so 2 need to be wired in series for the 12v. For more capacity another pair are series connected and then paralleled to double capacity but still at 12V.
They are true deep cycles and at ~ 70 lbs will be easier to handle and locate than other larger types. Just a few more jumpers. For most folk they offer the best bang for the buck. Usually a minimum of 4 of these are used but many folk have more than that, sometimes a lot more.

Then comes the different battery types other than wet cells but they need specific charging regimens and if they don't get it their lives will be shortened.

For best life and if you seriously cruise away from docks plugins you may also need to consider a larger alternator, a three stage alternator controller and even a 120V 3 stage charger to look after the batteries properly. They may already be aboard but you willl have to find out exactly what you have.

You should also consider a state of charge meter which is setup to monitor the house battery set. Amps in and amps out so you have a good idea of the batteries condition and what the remaining life before recharge is and also so you don't ruin a set of batteries..

Calder's book will help a lot. As you read it you will have questions and you can pose them on the forum and get some help.

But as with anything else there are probably about a million ways of setting things up, many are wrong or poor yet work for some so take your time .

Where you must make changes , do so properly.

Get some pro help if need be and don't be in a tear.

Good night and Merry Christmas
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Old 12-25-2013, 02:56 AM   #11
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C lectric,
Thank you for your return post, I have been planning to respond to your earlier post but are waiting for a mate, House electrician that specialises in Alarm systems and medical electronics but has some overall knowledge of electronics to do some tests on the system, he too has mentioned the reverse spike, and now have had the more immediate problem of failing batteries.
After the fitment of the new Delkor the cranking seems good and the bow thruster seems to have more power (I do not know why as the thruster has its own smaller battery?)
There are some other minor issues pls comment as you feel suitable;

On start up there is an easily heard beep, this was less audible with the old exide battery and I finally got a warning to check the Volvo EVC system- on fitment of the new delcor at this point the beep is normal on the first start and the next start if it has been sitting for a while but if I turn the ignition on the off then on the beep is a lot softer, I have not received any warnings, and have read that the battery may have to do a number of cycles before it is at its best?

I noticed when the two old batteries were low on water the start had the most water loss - would have thought the house would have as it is discharged and charged more?

I am looking to fit the new house battery into the existing box as shown above. There is a Giant brand 165Ah that will fit into this 500 x 180 x 220high position, dealer claims it puts out 185Ah when testing with his meter is this viable? I am open to other selection if suitable - will look at golf cart batteries, banks etc.

I am still having the depth gauge blank out (showing dashes) when I raise the anchor with the new start battery and cannot understand why this is happening as they on different batteries, and when the house is switched off the windlass operates - hopefully this condition may reduce or stop altogether with a more powerful/proper house deep cycle house battery, if not I still will have longer lasting house power.

I am trying to keep the system as standard as possible - all I have added is a VHF radio with link to GPS, and a flybridge windlass switch, the plot thickens as these are the only two items modified, and the only two presenting problems - but just could be coincidence?

I will look into getting the book you recommend as it will give me a better knowledge and I am willing to learn

Pictured is "Five Star" at her home berth at Bobbin Head

A Merry Xmas to you and all
Regards Scott
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Old 12-25-2013, 07:33 AM   #12
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>The house battery should be a DEEP Cycle battery. Not the 4D.<

4D is the case size , not weather the batt is deep cycle or start.

I think Surette or Rolls have genuine Deep Cycle batts in the 4D case size.

IF you will be rapid charging underway with a marine 3 stage V regulator , be sure to get one that monitors batt temp.

The loss of water could be from a crap shore power charger , that does not have a modern charge brain.
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Old 12-26-2013, 01:38 AM   #13
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"After the fitment of the new Delkor the cranking seems good and the bow thruster seems to have more power (I do not know why as the thruster has its own smaller battery?)"
---- if the two batteries are connected together they effectively become one. The smaller may take the brunt but the other still backs it up. If the large battery is in poor shape then that won't happen as well.

"I have not received any warnings, and have read that the battery may have to do a number of cycles before it is at its best?"
-----That's possible and is often the case with true deep cycles. They do improve from initial installation to a peak and then decline slowly. Proper mtce and setup and bank sizing will keep that decline at the slowest rate possible. I expect the same is true of your engine start. Also when new they are charged but after sitting on a shelf they will have lost some of that and it will take a full cycle or a few to reach full charge.


"I noticed when the two old batteries were low on water the start had the most water loss - would have thought the house would have as it is discharged and charged more?"
------FF may be dead on about the charger. Also, No guarantee that the P.O. looked after them equally. He may have checked the house battery feeling it is the more important. WRONG



"I am looking to fit the new house battery into the existing box as shown above. There is a Giant brand 165Ah that will fit into this 500 x 180 x 220high position, dealer claims it puts out 185Ah when testing with his meter is this viable? I am open to other selection if suitable - will look at golf cart batteries, banks etc."
-----can't really tell you what to do. But I would be suspicious of claims like that when the mfgr says 165Ah. May be right but how does he test it. Second , is this battery a DEEP CYCLE? I'd guess not. Take a look at the Trojan battery site for the T105 Golf Cart. Two of those will fit in that case needing only a jumper between the two to produce 12V. If there is extra space left then use some plastic or wood blocks to fill in and ensure the batteries do not move. There are other G.C. battery capacities with the same footprint but taller which may be suitable.
T-105 | Trojan Battery Company
They are not the only mfgr of good golf cart batteries. Just that I know the site better and have used them. I have Interstate G.C. in my trailer and the too worked well. Just use a good mfgr golf cart type.



"I am still having the depth gauge blank out (showing dashes) when I raise the anchor with the new start battery and cannot understand why this is happening as they on different batteries, and when the house is switched off the windlass operates - hopefully this condition may reduce or stop altogether with a more powerful/proper house deep cycle house battery, if not I still will have longer lasting house power."
---- You may need to check the actual voltage at the unit, sounder or depth guage, to see what the voltage remains at both while while using the winch and not using the winch. There could be another problem such as the sounder is not connected where you think it is or poor connections may be causing some Vdrop and then the added Vdrop caused by winch operation is just to much. If it is a Vspike that spike may not be entirely contained by my suggestion of ensuring the winch supply and ground come from the same battery.
There will have to be some more testing done.


FF has a point too about 4D. That the 4D is the battery case size and has little to do with construction of the internals.
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Old 12-30-2013, 09:16 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ScottA View Post
Hi All,

My boat originally came with a windlass only operatable with a switch at the windlass.
I decided to have a switch fitted at the flybridge, it was connected to the windlass solenoid. When the windlass is used to haul up the anchor under stress, regardless of switch, the depth reading on the GPS is lost and shows dashes, it can be reinstated by turning the GPS off then on.
My marine electrician thinks it could be deterioration of the batteries after a day of being out, but the windlass is connected to the start battery and not the house, and they both tested good.
The only thing I can think of was that the windlass was connected; 3core from solenoid to 7 core (3 wire for windlass and 4 wire for connection of UHF radio to GPS) then further 3 core to windlass flybridge switch. So the windlass switch is running close vicinity to the wires for the UHF to GPS.
But all connections seem to be good and no bare wires touching (AS best I can see).
Does anybody have any idea what might be happening here?
Regards Scott
Your windlass may be connected to the starting battery and the GPS to the house battery, but if both batteries are connected together (through a switch or relay) they become in effect, a single battery and a heavy load on one will bring down the voltage on both and this can cause problems with your electronics.

If your marine electrician is really a marine electrician, he should be able to figure out how the boat is wired and find a solution to your problem.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:45 AM   #15
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I have 2 8D for the motors, a 705 Amps bank to service and one 8d for the generator and davit. I bought a new windlass and I intend to connect in this battery, the 8d to the generator, is that correct?
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Old 01-04-2014, 03:55 PM   #16
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Hi All,

I had a bit of time to investigate this further and made the following discoveries;
With start battery and ignition on and house battery off, windlass will not work.
With start battery off and house battery on, windlass will not work.
The windlass needs both start battery and house battery to operate, does this mean the windlass is indeed on the house battery and isolated though the ignition switch?
I am also looking at the deep cycle batteries for the house and now possibly windlass operation, possibly 2x 6volt trojan
The only issue is that they are unsealed and they are are mounted close to living areas etc, and they will extend above the top of the battery box so no protection will be given to spillage and gassing and I will not be able to use the top of the battery box.
There are gel type ones the same size, but these are expensive and I have read that that these need to be charged at a lower rate than the wet/wet sealed ?- When my engine is running the Volvo info panel shows 14.1 to 14.2 volts which I assume is in line with wet type batteries, the Gel type require abt 13.8 volts?
Do these type of batteries come in wet sealed type?

Thanks and Regards Scott
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Old 01-04-2014, 04:32 PM   #17
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I have one 8D for each motor, 6 troyan 6 volts to the house and 1 8D to the generator, davit and windlass. The generator and alternators charge all of them. Thats right?
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:53 PM   #18
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Scott, you may(or may not)get something out of the "Muir Anchor Winch Quits" thread. Turned out I had both motor and switch issues. Yours does not sound like winch motor.
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:57 PM   #19
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I have one 8D for each motor, 6 troyan 6 volts to the house and 1 8D to the generator, davit and windlass. The generator and alternators charge all of them. Thats right?
Not sure if the small generator alternator is enough for that application.
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Old 01-04-2014, 07:36 PM   #20
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I have two original Caterppar 40 Amps alternator. I think that I could change by 2 X 70 Amps ou 2 x 80 Amps
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