The Nitty-Gritty of Mechanical Engineering – Winches, Windlass and Marine Engine Servicing

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When it comes to mechanical engineering, I have many childhood memories of my grandfather, in his oily overalls, and head under the bonnet of the latest car he was repairing. As an older teenager, the car that needed repairing was invariably my own. My grandfather taught us how, when taking something apart, prepare your space, and carefully lay out every screw, nut and washer in the order that you remove them. This advice bodes especially well when it comes to servicing a yacht’s winches. A myriad of small cogs and tiny delicate parts, in a beautiful dance of gears and strength increasing ratios.

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Winches

I love a good jigsaw, and for me, re-assembling a marine grade winch is a bit like doing a very complicated jigsaw. Winches are relied upon to hold fast a line, keep the huge forces at play in the sails in just the right shape to drive the boat forwards, and to take the heavy lifting out of hauling a mainsail. A failed winch can easily ruin a nice Balearics cruising holiday. That is why regular winch servicing is an essential part of yacht maintenance. As part of a larger winter yacht refit, Berthon Spain’s marine engineers have replaced two Harken winch drums in the cockpit of a CNB 76. The winch tops at the base of the mast have also been taken off and will be replaced with new.

Windlass Servicing

Earlier in the year, the chief engineer on a 49m Trinity motor yacht based In Palma de Mallorca reported their Muir windlass was lifting off the deck while in use and showing stress cracks. It was a huge job for our marine engineering team to lift out the large, heavy gearbox to assess the damage. Ultimately, the windlass gearbox had to be replaced.

  • Our mechanical engineers removed the shaft from the gearbox.
  • Our marine fabrication man Mario was called upon to make some custom parts and…
  • Ezequiel’s boat hydraulics knowledge was necessary to remove, strip and test the hydraulic motor.

A full team job!

An Apreamare 54 in our Palma de Mallorca based workshop has just had a new Lewmar windlass fitted. The original was in very bad condition; corrosion evident on all parts, bent shaft, cones badly worn. Once it was found that this particular model was discontinued, the only real solution was to buy a completely new Lewmar windlass. A costly exercise, when regular boat maintenance and windlass servicing every year can extend the life span of this vital equipment.

Marine Engine Servicing

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The importance of regular yacht maintenance cannot be underestimated. A quick marine engine service or generator service can save not just money, but also the nightmare situation of your engine failing out at sea and having to request a tow into harbour from the coast guard.

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For the amount of oil filters, fuel filters, spark plugs, drive belts and impellors we purchase, I suspect that the majority of our clients listen to the advice given by our knowledgeable marine engineers. Like the owners of a Sunseeker 52 – where we recently carried out a full marine engine service on the Volvo Penta engines and Cummins generator. Changing the filters, replacing the oil, acid cleaning the heat exchanger and of course a quick clean around the engine bay afterwards.

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Sometimes we come across parts that are no longer in production – for example a water pump from an Avon tender with an inboard engine for jet drive currently with Berthon Spain for an engine service. Our marine engineer Graham took the whole pump apart, cleaned the shaft and housing and reconditioned it with new seals, new bearings, and new impellor. This has not only extended the life of the engine but also saved the owner a large bill for a replacement. The tender is now sitting on a trailer ready for launch in a marina in Palma.

Contact andrew.fairbrass@berthonspain.com.

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