I’m ap-pawl-ed

There are a lot of weird words out there in the world.  Some industries, sports, and hobbies have their fair share of weird words.  Sailing is no exception.  In fact, sailing may have more than an average amount of weird words (jibe, poop deck, and scuttlebutt come to mind).  Pawl is one I learned recently when, in our quest to whittle down our never-ending list of boat projects, I removed four of our winches for cleaning, something they haven’t experienced in several years.

Pawl (noun) – a pivoted curved bar or lever whose free end engages with the teeth of a cogwheel or ratchet so that the wheel or ratchet can only turn or move one way

We have two Barlow winches (one two-speed and one single-speed) on the cabin top for sheeting the main and the staysail and two self-tailing Lewmar 44 winches on the cockpit combing for sheeting the jib.  I started with the single-speed Barlow because it’s smaller and has fewer moving parts than the others.  I was a little nervous tearing everything apart, but once I had everything disassembled and cleaned, it was a cinch putting it back together.  The two-speed Barlow was also pretty easy and cleaning it went off without a hitch.

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The Lewmars are a different animal.  The port side winch was nearly seized in place.  I tried turning it with a winch handle and was barely able to move it.  The starboard side winch wasn’t as bad, but still really stiff.  After dousing the top Allen screws with lubricant and letting that soak in for a while, I was able to start tearing them apart.  It was immediately apparent that the grease inside was really old…and gummy.  Luckily all the metal and plastic pieces and parts were still in good shape.   The most surprising thing was that the winches were attached to the cockpit combing with wood screws.  No backing plate, no through bolts; just 3/8″ x 2 1/2″ wood screws.  Who does that?!

I cleaned all the old grease off with some degreaser and a toothbrush and even managed to not lose a single spring or pawl.  Reassembly was a little more complicated and I could tell Rich was just itching to get his hands on the winch innards (he’s nerdy like that), so the two of us put everything back together, which took about an hour per winch, and surprisingly we didn’t have any parts “left over.”

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Besides cleaning off all the old grease and grime, I also had to remove a not insignificant amount of Cetol from the outside of the drum.  It’s amazing how careless people will be.  One of the previous owners used copious amounts of Cetol on everything.  It’s been slathered on every exterior piece of teak, and anything located remotely close to said teak.  We’ve even found pieces of blue painter’s tape still in place where they tried to mask-off the combing, cabin top, toe rail, winches, etc. but never removed all the tape.  Clearly their masking and painting skills were sub-par.

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I dipped the bottom of the winch drum in a shallow tub of acetone and, after a little gentle scraping, the Cetol peeled right up.  I’m not sure how we’re going to remove the Cetol from all the teak, but that’s a different post for a different day in the very near future.  I wonder if we can get a 55 gallon drum of acetone delivered to the dock…

Stripes and stars
Red sky at night...
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2 comments

  1. We are also in process of fixing up a Tayana 37, so love reading your blog (I am too lazy to blog myself!). Ours is also slathered with mud brown cetol. Try a heat gun and scraper for the cetol removal. The heat gun works really well (just don’t hold it in one place so long you scorch the wood), and I prefer it over solvent fumes or sanding dust!

    1. Hi Kristen – We’ve also been using a heat gun and scraper on the ugly, old Cetol. Surprisingly it comes off fairly easily. We tried to carefully scrape the Cetol off the winches. It wouldn’t budge so the solvent was our last option, but not one I would use on wood. Plus, breathing fumes all day, even when working outside, is not my idea of a good time. We’d love to hear about your boat (what year is it?, the projects you’re working on and what your future plans are (local cruising, world travel, etc.)) Thanks for reading our blog.
      Jeni

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