The two Lewmar self-tailing winches in the cockpit of Anne Marie needed repair as they jammed whenever they were used and the central spindle was loose and could be removed without effort. They are probably 40 years old and the casting had corroded. Rather than spend many hundreds of pounds replacing them I decided to fix them.
The central spindle is normally held in place with an 8mm thick half-moon plastic key (No 10 in the diagram. Because the half moon key has worn away the central spindle could be removed. Lewmar sell a new key but being tight-fisted I decided to make my own. How hard could it be?
I had, within my ‘garage hoard of useful stuff that might come in handy one day’, a 50mm diameter bar of acetal. I had previously used part of it to make some new sheaves for the mast. I cut an 8mm disc from it and drilled out the centre using a hole saw. I starting by cutting the outside diameter of the spindle and then drilled the centre to the diameter of the central spindle key-way (just above the number 8 in the diagram). I then had an 8mm thick doughnut of acetal.
Using my trusty Swiss Army knife I then cut a slice out of the ring to the right size and shape. I inserted it into the casing of the winch and hey presto the central axle no longer comes out.
To solve the jamming problem I debated whether to add a spacer at the point where the problem occurs but then I remembered that there are two spacers (at 9 in the diagram) already in the winch. Removing the yellow one lowered the whole affair by about 2mm which solved the problem. With just a little bit of my time and some imagination I learned about winches and gave them a new lease of life.