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Old 01-21-2018, 10:20 PM   #1
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Ideal Windlass Field Rebuild

Iím heading up to Alaska this summer and one slight worry I have is my 55kg Rocna and 400ft of chain with only a single older windlass. Has anyone ever rebuild one of the Ideal Vertical Windlasses? I heard they use a car starter motor and and seem pretty simple, Iím wondering if it could be practical just to bring some parts for a rebuild incase it has issues?

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Old 01-21-2018, 10:36 PM   #2
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I have a vertical Ideal, 1971 vintage. I think it's a APC 23 but not sure. 12 volt, 500 lb. When I repowered 5 years ago, I removed it from the boat and sent it back to the factory to be rebuilt, including re-chroming the capstan. The windlass had very little internal wear, according to Ideal.

Ideal has new owners, but I've heard that they are attentive to the many owners of their legacy products. Suggest you contact them and ask for their advise. If your experience is like mine was, access is bad and removal will bring out many expletives!

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Old 01-21-2018, 11:10 PM   #3
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I have an Ideal horizontal windlass. Previous owners gave it very little use. During the refit I tore it down and put it back together. They're built like tanks! A good automotive starter / alternator rebuild shop can redo the motor if necessary. If yours has a lot of use on it, it may be worth sending it back to the factory. Liked my windlass so much, when it was time to toss another Maxwell POS capstan over the side, I bought an Ideal instead. Should have done that to start with.

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Old 01-21-2018, 11:38 PM   #4
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I have an Ideal ACW vertical unit at present. I contacted the new owners, Schaefer Marine, regarding parts. At the time they were very busy, and still integrating Ideal and were a little slow to respond. But in due course they replied and they were able to provide all parts for the windlass (35 yo?), which is fairly impressive.

But in the meantime I had removed and dis-assembled the unit. Initially I thought I needed a motor rewind, but a number of people advised that such motors either run, or not. And mine ran well with no load on the windlass. Turns out the issue was the thrust bearing running dry and binding up, stalling the motor. The gearbox had virtually no oil left in it. My bad. Now that might still mean the motor is not creating full torque, I don't know. I noticed that the motor was a slightly different paint shade than the gearbox, so the PO had had the motor worked on at some point.

I sourced new thrust bearings locally and had them installed by the time I received the email reply from Schaefer. It has been working fine since then, although perhaps not giving full bollard pull? But I feel it is undersized for the boat and depth I often need to anchor in. Were I in Nth America I would return for a full recon at Schaefer and change to a larger gypsy. But return shipping time and cost from Australia isn't viable. So I am contemplating replacing the 5/16th BBB chain and install a Muir windlass with 3/8th chain. Although first I might go to G43 5/16th chain instead, and replace the solenoids and re-evaluate the Ideal performance.

To the OP, there is not much to go wrong in them. I would just make sure you have some gear oil (SAE 90) to keep the gearbox topped up, and perhaps spare solenoids.

If you are really nervous then carrying a spare motor would be an option. For mine it is a relatively simple task to remove/replace the motor in-situ. Removing the rest of the windlass from the boat is another matter entirely, but still possible if you prepare for it before leaving home. A short length of 2" pipe to fit over the windlass shaft, and a large (10 lb) hammer are the main requirements! I also had two lengths of threaded rod that enabled the gearbox to be lowered slowly into the anchor locker once it came loose.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:11 AM   #5
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Muir having been mentioned, not to hijack too far, they are seriously heavy things to lift and carry. As the Ideal is apparently also built like "a brick sh#thouse" I don`t doubt it is in the same category and freighting it for repair will cost. Btw,when I had my Muir re-engined, Muir set it up on the bench and the gearbox tested fine after 33years.
If you are really worried, pull it and get it tested, you`ll need to know what it should do on test. But if it`s running well, and has for years, it`s probably fine.
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:53 AM   #6
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I rebuilt my Nilsson windlass a few years ago as preventive maintenance.
A local automotive starter/alternator shop rebuilt/cleaned up the motor. I did the rest. Pretty simple, the hardest part was getting the motor screwed back in correctly because you need 3 hands.
I'd imagine yours won't be much different.
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Old 01-22-2018, 11:51 AM   #7
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I believe RC Plath in Portland can also refurb it for you. Worth giving them a call if time and freight are concerns. Otherwise Ideal is excellent at providing parts and help, glad to hear Schafer is keeping that tradition. If the thing works OK, I'd go the spare parts route myself, but the darn things are extremely well made. I carried a a clutch plate, spare solenoid, and gear oil, and a spare clutch loosening rod (some use a handle).

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