I have been working hard on our windlass. After removing all of the top end components which we outlined in Removing the Windlass I went to work on the bottom end which is the gearbox and motor. I could not find any information that referenced our model windlass online so I set about carefully disassembling based on intuitive mechanical thinking. (I have since found information on other models which are the same gearbox and motor set up) Basically I was guessing with a basic knowledge of how a motor turns a gearbox.
First I was able to remove the motor housing and brushes by loosening two long bolts that run from the cap end down to the gearbox at the motor base.
After that small victory I felt good about removing the gearbox base which pushes up against the underside of the deck. That was relatively easy as well – just a few more bolts. Then came the gearbox case cover. I knew this would be a challenge so I didnt even attempt to turn the screws at first. I soaked them in PB Blaster and left it overnight. The next day I was able to get 2 of the 5 screws out. Another night soaking in PB Blaster did not show any significant improvement so I brought out the big guns: the manual impact driver and 3lb hammer. Have I mentioned how much I love the manual impact driver? Its amazing and worth its weight in gold. You know those screws came out!
The gearbox was filled with what looks to be marine lithium grease, dirt, and water. Gross.
Everything looked good though so I was excited. I found that this is a very simple worm gear direct drive and the gears looked like they had good life left in the teeth, a big sigh of relief.
I needed to get all this grease out so I went about trying to clean the insides as best as I could:
Once I got everything clean enough to where I could see all of the components I wanted to test our motor to see if it would work now that everything had a chance to dry out. I cleaned up the motor housing and brushes and then put them back on over the motor coil and secured everything in place. I took my little 12V battery that usually runs our solar powered bilge pump and some short wires and set it all up:
No matter how often I rebuild things (which I do a lot in my work life) I always get a little nervous when it comes time to connect the power. I think I always hold my breath and close my eyes when I flip the switch, or in this case connect the wires. But it worked! yay!! These are old school case grounded motors so that’s why you see the negative wire leading to inside the gearbox. I just wrapped it around a bolt. The two leads coming off the motor are both positive and are used to control the direction of the motor. Yet another reason I continue to grow fond of this old windlass – it goes up AND down! I guess all of them do now-a-days but this thing is almost 40 years old and they all didn’t back then 🙂
At this point I compiled a list of spare parts that I will need to effect a proper rebuild. Some of the seals were in bad shape, a coupler, new bolts, proper gearbox oil, and a new motor for a spare were some of the biggies. Luckily JamesNilsson.com still supports their old windlasses!!! Another HUGE sigh of relief. It took a bit of research on my part becuase they do not specify my windlass on their website or on their spare parts list but I got in contact with Debbie Nilsson through the website and she whipped up a list of parts for me and had them all ready to ship out straight from New Zealand to my front door!! She was super helpful and I placed the order for all the parts except for the motor. (We will need to save up a bit for this one)
The parts are on their way accross the globe and as I wait for them I am going to clean the gearbox up some more and strip the paint off the gearbox and motor. Everything will be in like new condition when the new parts arrive and I will rebuild the whole thing. In the end we are going to have a like new windlass that would cost over $3,000 USD new for less than $100 in parts (not including the spare motor that we will eventually order). Pretty fantastic if you ask me!