Maxwell Freedom Windlass Problem

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Oct 5, 2007
Vessel Name
Anastasia III
Vessel Make
Krogen 42
Got a strange problem with a Maxwell Freedom windlass. It stops working intermittently. When it does, you can press either the up or down switch and hear the relay box clicking, but the motor won't turn. Now a light tap on the windlass top will make it work again. All of the wires are clean and tightly attached, so it doesn't appear to be a loose connection of any kind. It's strange to me that such a tap would make it work again.

Any ideas?
Hmmmm.... Sounds like a poor connection between the brushes and commutator. Could be due to worn brushes (spring pressure becomes less) or a dirty commutator. If it were mine..... I would clean the inspect the brushes, then clean the commutator with some EMERY CLOTH!
The other possibility is that the solenoid contacts are burned. This is probably not servicable and would need to be replaced.
I don't think it could be the brushes** ... no offense Steve. Sounds like the relay is sticking or there is a contact with so much resistance it only hooks up your electrons part of the time. Check all of your connections first Keith.

Eric Henning
You could try shorting out the solenoid (connect heavy wire between the two heavy leads on the solenoid) briefly and see if the windlass operates regularily. If it does, this would point to the solenoid being faulty.
If you do get to the point of cleaning the commutator with emery cloth, be sure to clean the area very well afterwards as emery is conductive and any residue may cause further problems.
I think both nomadwilly and forklift have valid points. The fact that a whack makes things work again suggest something IS sticking somewhere and the fact you can hear a relay clicking suggests a high resistance spot somewhere.
Let us know what you find out.
Had a similar problem with a Maxwell Freedom windlass, brought the motor to a starter repair shop turned out to be dirty comutator ring which was cleaned up as described above I learned there is an abrasive cloth similar to emery but made for electrical work, as mentioned above emery can cause damage.
Of course check the brushes while it is out.
Good luck
Steve W
You all went down the electricity road. I will throw out that it might be a bearing that is binding. I say this because that is what I am dealing with. And the tap gets it going again. Just a thought. I clicking relay to me means it is working and that there is a mechanical reason why things aren't moving.
Baker wrote:

clicking relay to me means it is working and that there is a mechanical reason why things aren't moving.


*A clicking relay means to me that it is getting control power and the slug is moving. That is all it means. It does not mean there is electrical continuity anywhere other than the control side
We had exactly the same problem this year. The windlass, a Lofran Tigres would just stop and not raise or lower. You could hear it click, if you rocked it with the manual lever it would work again then stop. Turns out when we replaced the chain and gypsy the chain stripper was rubbing against the side of the new gypsy, formed it back in the center and life has been good. I would have never thought the stripper rubbing could stop the windlass but it did!
Rubbing Strippers have caused many problems over the years!!!!...

And RIckb, in theory, you're right. My only point was that if this was happening to me, my first thought would be mechanical and not electrical....especially since it is intermittent and sometimes solved with a mechanical "nudge".
Baker wrote:

Rubbing Strippers have caused many problems over the years!!!!...
Sure, the only point I was trying to make is that in the troubleshooting process,*if the relay clicks, the only part of the system which can be excluded as a source of the problem is the control side of the electrical system.

Every other part is still suspect, including mechanical*interference and other faults on the electrical drive side.

That flew right by
Steve W.
I'm thinkin' so!!!
If you have a voltmeter on your DC system, you can probably determine the contactor vs mechanical question pretty easily:

If the contactor is not closing the circuit, you won't draw any current ... so there won't be any load on the system and the DC voltage won't sag.

If the contactor is OK but there's a mechanical issue, the motor will pull a whole buncha current (that's the technical term
) and you'll see a noticeable sag in system voltage).** The slower a motor turns -- relative to its no-load speed -- the higher the current, and when it doesn't turn at all, the current is at its highest.
Forgot to mention:* bad contactor symptom (no current draw) would be the same with a bad connection or a bad brush.* Contactor failure is pretty common, though, so it would be my first thing to check:* actuate the windlass and check the voltage at both sides of the contactor.* If both sides have more-or-less 12V, the contactor is OK and the problem is either the brushes, the connection between the contactor and the motor, or the motor ground.* If the input is 12V and the output side much lower, the contactor is bad.*
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