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Old 05-06-2021, 02:03 PM   #1
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City: Olga, WA
Vessel Name: Gallivant
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Hydraulic Windlass Issue

I have a hydraulic windlass on my boat. I know very little about hydraulics (I should do something about that). The problem with the windlass is that when I'm letting out the anchor sometimes I have to reverse the direction of the chain to stop it from going out. I assuming that the windlass braking is done hydraulically and that my problem is a valve that isn't closing properly. Does that make sense? How can I diagnose this?

-mike
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Old 05-06-2021, 02:36 PM   #2
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Is it power down or speed controlled free fall?

Look at your manual or electric solenoid valve (the block where the hoses from your hydraulic motor return to and are turned on and off). There should be flow control valves there to limit both up and down speeds. Generally screw in to reduce speed, screw out to increase

Unfortunately, expect them to be heavily corroded so they may take a wire brush and WD40 to free up.

If there is no speed control and they are just on and off (or the problem has been getting progressively worse over time) then the solenoid needs a rebuild with view orings etc. Not a difficult job. Just make sure the orings go back in the same slots. Again, expect everything to be corroded and tight externally. For cheaper systems it's probably easier just to replace the whole valve.

Good luck
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Old 05-06-2021, 04:47 PM   #3
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We have recently decided to have a "professional" inspect our drum style hydraulic windlass (manufactured by Sound Hydraulic Equipment in Seattle). We've had the boat nearly 9 years now and we've only replaced the motorcycle chain when it broke, so we just want peace of mind knowing the entire system is in good shape. Ours is a power down system, which is sometimes frustrating when anchoring in a breeze. It seems to take forever for the anchor to hit bottom at 35-45 feet!

I'm with you on wanting to know more about hydraulics, though. Even though I keep hearing it's supposed to be a very simple system. If you're looking for someone, the guy we're talking to is Grant at Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend. He is their hydraulics expert.
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Old 05-07-2021, 09:25 AM   #4
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Might help us to know what model of windlass you have. I would think yours has a worm drive so if it's truly turning and it's not the clutch slipping it has to be moving hydraulic fluid through the motor. This means there is an issue with the valve system where perhaps the spool in the valve is not returning to the off state. This seems unlikely to me though.
Pics of the windlass and valve system would help as well.
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