Rhumb Do Date: July 2010
Winch: GIBB Sheetmaster (8100 or
The genoa sheet winches (well, the starboard one!) had become stiff in
rotation and my thought was that it was due to the desert sands of the
last few months of sailing. Of course, you should be servicing
your expensive winches on a regular basis......Lewmar recommend doing
the job 3 or 4 times during a sailing season, but that is probably a bit
over the top. I have to admit that I'm of the school, "if it
ain't broke, don't fix it" but I'm sitting out the monsoon season
and I DO have a winch which is getting difficult to turn, (and they
should be serviced at least once a year!), so let's get it apart and
clean it up!
Firstly, I am unsure of the winch model!
The top of it is stamped 'GIBB ENGLAND' and the number 8100 or 810C.
Bob and Liz
tell me that it is a 'Sheetmaster' but I cannot verify that.
I did not have any manuals or printed information, nor could I find any
on the internet for this particular model, so I would have to work it
out as I went along, as it were. The photo's were taken during the
stripping and re-assembly in the hope they may help others who perhaps
also have these ancient, but very robust winches!
I lashed canvas to the guardwires outboard of the
winch to help prevent any bits 'pinging' off and falling overboard
(previous experience on other winches) but on this occasion it was
un-necessary because of the way the winch is constructed. However,
better safe than sorry.
With a wide blade screwdriver, undo the machine screw located in the
winch handle socket, which allows you to 'wiggle' the central top
Do not remove the black plastic seal in the top of the winch at
this time because it holds the top pawls and springs in place while you
are removing the main body.
Using a screwdriver or some other lever, and a hardwood
block fulcrum to protect the fibreglass coaming, prise the winch body
upward whilst rotating the winch regularly. Don't
worry.....everything inside is captive and nothing will fly out from
beneath the winch when doing this! You may have to fill the top
recess with penetrating oil and leave overnight if it is particularly
With the winch drum off, you are left with the internal
gubbins bolted to the mounting base plate. In this photo, the main
spindle is caked with old hardened grease etc., and I cleaned it
up with wet 'n dry paper before lightly greasing and reassembling.
Undo the four retaining bolts and lift off the spindle
and gearing. As you lift it off, hold the lower gearwheel upward
to prevent it falling - the ratchet pawls and springs are inside it and
you don't want to lose those!
That just leaves the mounting base plate, which can be
cleaned up and lightly smeared with grease in preparation for the
With the internal bits inverted (the winch body makes a
good stand for this!), lift off what is now the upper gearwheel.
This exposes the pawls and springs which you can remove and clean up
with paraffin or de-greasing fluid. They only fit one way, so you
can't make a mistake when putting the whole thing back together.
Clean all the other bits too............
.............taking care not to lose the washers on
either end of the pawl carrying gearwheel
With these parts cleaned you can reassemble the inner
workings of the winch, lightly greasing the spindles, gearing and
non-moving parts. Do not grease the ratchet pawls or springs -
this attracts dirt and could lead to them jamming at a most inopportune
moment of sailing. Better to use light oil such as 3-in-1 for
this. Replace the assembly on the base plate and bolt it down.
The winch drum (the main body) has an upper and lower
sleeve bearing which I believe is made of 'tufnol.' If these are
excessively worn, the drum would have noticeable lateral movement when
fitted and you would have to obtain new ones. I had a cutless
bearing machined out of this material in Marmaris, Turkey, as did
Wayne and Angie in Kemer.....so
it shouldn't be too difficult to get replacements in other ports.
The underside of the drum (shown here) just needs to be cleaned and the
gearing again lightly greased.
With the body now the right way up, carefully ease out
the black plastic seal and remove the two upper pawls and springs. In
the photo, the left one is out whilst the right is still in position.
Clean and refit them using 3-in-1 oil, as with the lower pawls.
Smear the seal with silicone grease to help stop the ingress of water
and replace it.
It now just
remains to slide the drum back onto the main spindle, replace the
central upper ratchet and tighten the machine screw down.
That's it - job done - and a nice smooth running winch