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Old 06-14-2021, 12:05 PM   #1
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Identifying a bad battery

I am in the Bahamas and was on the hook the other night and in the morning the windlass would not work. Had to haul in the anchor and chain by hand. In port now and would like to fix the situation. I am technologically challenged to all things electrical. My guess is that the batter serving the windlass has died although all other systems seem unaffected? How do I identify the battery that is the culprit? Do I change only that one?

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 06-14-2021, 12:24 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Mike Lowthian View Post
I am in the Bahamas and was on the hook the other night and in the morning the windlass would not work. Had to haul in the anchor and chain by hand. In port now and would like to fix the situation. I am technologically challenged to all things electrical. My guess is that the batter serving the windlass has died although all other systems seem unaffected? How do I identify the battery that is the culprit? Do I change only that one?

Any help would be appreciated.
Turn off all battery disconnect switches then measure the voltage of each battery with a multimeter. You should quickly see which one is dead - if that is indeed the problem.
~A
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Old 06-15-2021, 08:10 AM   #3
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I would check the cables (bad/corroded ground?) first. Did the windlass get slow(er) over time or just cease to work one day?
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Old 06-15-2021, 09:16 AM   #4
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Even with a weak battery, I would have thought the windlass would work when the engine is running. Could the alternator that charges it not be working?

Have checked to see if the windlass has a fuse or breaker that has tripped?
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Old 06-15-2021, 09:54 AM   #5
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From the OPs post his best bet is to get competent help to pinpoint the issue rather than Easter egg hunting (guessing). Someone nearby in the anchorage may be able to help. Perhaps a call on a morning net.
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:15 AM   #6
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From the OPs post his best bet is to get competent help to pinpoint the issue rather than Easter egg hunting (guessing). Someone nearby in the anchorage may be able to help. Perhaps a call on a morning net.
He's in port now, and hopefully will find help. To the OP, please let us know how it goes.
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Old 06-15-2021, 01:50 PM   #7
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Identifying a bad battery

This happened to me last summer. It was the windlass motor that had failed. It needed to be remanned. You should also check the connections but that was our problem. Get a multimeter on the connections to see what the voltage is at the motor. If the voltage is adequate (above 12 volts) when you use the foot switch, it will be the motor.

Rather than replace the windlass, you should be able to take the motor to a shop that can replace the affected parts. Look for a reputable shop that works on starter motors and alternators.

If it is the motor, check the housing and determine if the motor has somehow corroded. If thatís the case, you need to see how you can prevent that from happening, and it may involve putting a drain in the appropriate location in the housing.

Jim
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Old 06-15-2021, 02:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lowthian View Post
I am in the Bahamas and was on the hook the other night and in the morning the windlass would not work. Had to haul in the anchor and chain by hand. In port now and would like to fix the situation. I am technologically challenged to all things electrical. My guess is that the batter serving the windlass has died although all other systems seem unaffected? How do I identify the battery that is the culprit? Do I change only that one?

Any help would be appreciated.
In what way did it fail to work? Was there any clicking? Motor sound? Movement? Etc?

My bet for a sudden failure like that wouldn't actually be the battery. It would be the circuit protection or the contactor(s)/solenoid(s)/"windlass controller".

In other words, "Is there a circuit breaker? Is it on? Is power getting past it?"; "Is there a fuse? Is it good? Is power getting past it?"; "Is there a self-resetting fuse, is power getting past it?" Etc.

Normally the way those things are set up is that the "low current/amperage controls" signal/operate the contactor(s)/solenoid(s)/"windlass controller" which, in turn controls the high-current windlass. It enables the control wires to be thin and easy to run, and keeps the thick wires needed to supply the power shorter, cheaper, and more direct.

But, these contactor(s)/solenoid(s)/"windlass controller" devices are notoriously unreliable.

I think the only way to find it is to trace things.

-- When you call for the windlass to go up or down, does the windlass get 12v?
---> If so, check the connections at the windlass, but it is looking suspect.
---> If there is significantly less than 12v, but it switches on or off with your control, is it also low at the battery?
------>If so, start there. It may be a battery or charger.
------>If not, check the connections from the battery there, a wire or connection or few is high resistance. Fix any problems, get the voltage up, and see what happens.

--If you aren't getting 12v to the windlass when calling for it to go up or down, find the contactor(s)/solenoid(s)/"windlass controller", often in the chain locker. It'll have a pair of thick wires and some thing ones. Is there 12v across the thick wires?
----> If so, are your controls getting 12v?
----------> If not, there is likely a wiring problem
----------> If so, if you follow your control wires, e.g. up and down pedal wires, to the contactor(s)/solenoid(s)/"windlass controller does +12v show up on the other end when you step on the pedal, press the button, etc?
-----------------> If not, it may be a bad switch/button
-----------------> If so, the contactor(s)/solenoid(s)/"windlass controller may be bad.
-->
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Old 06-15-2021, 02:31 PM   #9
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Identifying a bad battery

Yes, it can be the solenoids, switches and so forth but those issues should be readily identifiable early. I have had 2 failures with boat deck winches and then the windlass last summer and in every case it was the motor. It/they needed new brushes and bearings.

If you are getting power/voltage at the windlass, it will be the motor. You may still see voltage sag, but again, suspect the motor. And, if you can directly apply power to the windlass and get nothing, itís the motor.

Jim
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