Please select your home edition
upffront 2018 Running Rigging 728x90

Winch Servicing Made Easy

by Diego Sosa, Upffront 22 Aug 01:00 PDT
Winch Servicing Made Easy © Andersen

Type in 'how to service a winch' on Google, and the results you will get are endless. There are two types of steps to take: those that are universal to all winches, and those that are applicable to specific models. In this post, we discuss minimum requirements for servicing.

Set up a specific work area:

Servicing should be done one at a time. Imagine mixing up two sets of gears into your newly serviced winch!

Accidents happen, but they can be avoided.

To avoid losing any parts, it is recommended to set up a designated working area. This can be a canvas, or a box cut in the exact shape and dimensions of your winch, to collect all parts that fall off (see Image below).

What do you need?

  • Screwdriver / or Allen keys (depending on make / model)
  • Latex Gloves (If you are not a fan of getting your hands dirty!)
  • White Spirit (Paint Thinner)
  • Hot water, Clean rags
  • Bucket/Box or similar area for collecting and cleaning parts
  • Flat Brushes (2)
  • Winch Grease*
  • Pawl Oil*

* Taking shortcuts does not ensure the proper care your equipment deserves! Winch manufacturers tend to have their own brand grease.

Most manufacturers supply replacement kits to simplify your regular preventative maintenance. The basic kits will contain a complete set of replacement pawls, and springs, but be sure to buy the correct kit for your winch model and size. The frequency of replacements depends how often the boat is on the water and how hard the equipment is used. Parts can be replaced from once a year to every four years.


1. Start off by removing the drum. Remove the screws on the top surface, or on the self-tailing arm (depending on the winch). Carefully lift the drum; as pieces stuck on the inside can fall out unexpectedly.

2. It is recommended to photograph the winch at each stage of the stripping down process. This can then help you place it back together. As an alternative, a product manual/guide ( can be downloaded.

3. Remove all pins, washers and gears. It might be necessary to dismantle the entire winch from its base, depending on its location on the boat (be patient!).

4. Lay out all the parts to keep track of what has been cleaned. Get rid of 'old grease' and then add 'fresh' new grease. To do this, you must first immerse the parts in white spirit. Rinse the parts in hot water and then dry thoroughly with a cloth. Any remaining white spirit can render new grease ineffective.

5. Lightly brush all parts with a dab of the manufacturer's grease. Do not grease the pawls and springs; it will make them stick. Lightly brush the pawls and the springs with the manufacturer's pawl oil.

6. Remount all pieces in their correct place (making sure you have none left over!) and close (tighten) the drum.

Your fully-serviced winch is now ready for use!

Some extra steps and more specific tools might be needed, depending on the winch. For more details check out our free guide at

Related Articles

Cutter Rig versus Solent Rig part 1
Bluewater Cruising analysis from Here at Upffront, we are aware that many people are searching for the perfect bluewater cruising set up. Two popular options for off-shore cruising are the cutter rig and the solent rig, both sporting their own pros and cons. Posted on 14 Nov
Introduction to Core Fibres in Modern Ropes
The majority are polyester or Dyneema There are many core materials used in rope making (e.g. Vectran®, PBO, polypropylene, hemp, nylon etc) but the vast majority of modern ropes are based on a polyester, or increasingly, a Dyneema® core. Get a basic introduction here. Posted on 9 Nov
FSE Robline ropes now for sale on
Full range of 800 world class yachting ropes available As active and enthusiastic professional sailors, FSE Robline pride themselves on creating world class yachting ropes. Designed with both cruising sailors and regatta sailors in mind, FSE are a global brand with a focus on innovative materials and designs. Posted on 5 Nov
Top-down furling systems for a 42ft cruising boat
Take a look at your main furling unit and cable choices Say you have a 42ft cruising boat and are looking for options for a top-down furling system (for free-flying downwind asymmetric sails). We take a quick look at your main furling unit and cable choices in this size range. Posted on 31 Oct
High Performance, Low Hassle Family Cruising
The radical - but not too radical - 39BEN How do you design a cruising boat that's fast enough to get your competitive juices flowing, but without scaring the family? That's been the challenge for Alex Vrolijk, who has drawn the lines for the radical - but not too radical - 39BEN. Posted on 26 Oct
Pontos Winches Get 'Karverized' part 2
What makes the design so unique? In our previous post, Upffront broke the news that Karver Systems had acquired Brittany based Pontos and their range of innovative winches. Now operating under the name 'Pontos by Karver' it's time to consider: what makes the design so unique? Posted on 22 Oct
Which top-down furler do I choose?
Comparing options from the Karver, Facnor and Ronstan ranges One of key our principles is to offer a good selection of hardware and rigging options with high quality technical information to give you the details you need to make informed product choices. Posted on 17 Oct
Nick Black discusses Internal Headsail Locks
Looking at the types of lock that have superior aerodynamics In our last post we talked about the pros and cons of External versus Internal lock systems. Here we'll look more closely at the internal systems available, which tend to be aimed at the performance-oriented programs that are prepared to pay more. Posted on 12 Oct
The Evolution of the Morf Block
One of the lightest and strongest blocks on the market Morf Block, who are enthusiastic about using recyclable and bio materials, have ceased the sales of their DIY kits. Instead, Morf Block have created an aluminium lash thimble that is perfectly optimised to work in conjunction with the cheeks and bearing. Posted on 8 Oct
Looking at a code zero? Try a Trogear Bowsprit
Adjustable and removable carbon aftermarket bowsprit Formed in 2014 by development engineer Henry Dokonal, Trogear are creating a buzz around their Trogear Adjustable Bowsprits. Tried and test for many years by Henry himself the bowsprit is popular with racers, cruisers and single-handed sailors. Posted on 5 Oct app (top)