Winches on a sailing vessel are essential for the proper operation of the sailing gear and if they don't work properly then sailing is just not fun; the squeaky sounds, rough turning and interrupted clicking sound of pawls are signs your winch is in need of servicing.
Harken recommends an annual service, but could be done in shorter intervals, depending on sailing condition and intensity of sailing. For this, Harken has published the service manual and detailed diagrams which will be presented here along with photos.
Like every machinery service, the key factor of success is being organized and not losing any parts. If this is your first attempt to take a winch apart, you may consider using photos as reference for the order of disassembly to assist you with the assembly after, although it is good practice to do so in any case.
For this service you will need rags, small and medium flat head screwdrivers, 5mm allen key, winch grease and pawl lube. It's good practice to keep spare pawls and springs on board and in the harken Winch service kit you will have the spares and lube required for the service.
For disassembly, use the following diagram as reference and identification of the different components:
21. Stripper arm housing
26. Stripper Arm
28. Socket assembly
29. Cover 2 Speed
To start disassembly, remove the socket using a flathead screwdriver to turn open the center bolt within the winch handle socket, make a note of the angle of the striper arm so you install it with the same orientation as before.
Three bolts secure the stripper arm in place, note the orientation of the grooves in relation to the notches on the jaws assembly, then undo the three bolts and remove the stripper with its housing.
Then lift the drum with the jaws still connected, there is no need to disassemble the jaws if no apparent damage is visible, clean the drum and jaws and set aside for assembly.
Next, before removing the bearings, turn them in place, making sure they function properly then remove the pin bearings by lifting off the housing; you may feel restriction while removing the bearings but that is normal. Inspect and clean the bearings and look for any cracks or deformation in any of the pins, then set them aside.
The following diagram is the breakdown of the winch gear components as reference while disassembling:
3. Gear Z12
4. Pawls Carrier
7. Gear Z23
10. Gear Z20
11. Pinion Z13
19. Central Shaft
For this section I would recommend making notes and taking photos of the gear disassembly as it could get confusing as to the orientation of the gears and exact order of assembly.
Start by removing the Gear Z23, then you will see the Pawl carrier clearly and its two pawls, remove the carrier and set aside. Continue removing the various washers and gears until the entire guts are spread in front of you in order of disassembly.
At this point you can clean the parts individually and the winch base, remove old grease and dirt that accumulated with time and inspect each piece for any excessive wear or fatigue, next would be servicing the pawls.
The pawls are what actually do the ratchet effect of the winch, positioned in a way to allow a single directional movement and blocking the reverse with the springs, allowing the winch to perform the way it does. For this service all is required is lube but if these require replacing, due to either wear or breakage, then this is the process to perform.
A small flat head screwdriver, or any small instrument, can be used to wedge between the pawl spring and the pawl housing.
Then using your thumb and index finger, remove the pawl by lifting it in its groove, but keep your thumb on the exterior part of the pawl so the spring can’t jump out of place and be lost forever…
Once the spring and pawl are separated, clean and then insert the new spring in the proper orientation, where the straight leg of the spring is seated in the pawls’ groove and the angled leg to the housings’ groove. Then press your thumb and index finger to compress the spring in its place and with that slide the pawl back in its groove while making sure the spring is in its place.
You might need to use a tool to reinsert the spring leg into the pawl housings’ groove.
All that is left is to oil the pawls using a dedicated lube such as the Harken pawl oil, it is recommended to avoid using grease at the pawls as the high viscosity of grease might restricted the correct movement of the pawls.
Once the base, gears, pawl housings and shaft assembly are clean you may start assembly. Make sure to grease the gears properly, and reassemble using the original diagram and any documentation that was taken during the process.
Once the winch is assembled and back to its original form, turn the drum and make sure it does not turn the other way. Check the winch using the winch handle as well, to either directions; in order to check correct operation of the winches two speeds.