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Mounting Winches Winches are our friends as they multiply our strength and make us

powerful. Whether we are pulling in a sheet or halyard or cranking a dinghy onboard, they give us the ability to do something that would be otherwise beyond our strength. Mounting them correctly and following a routine of inspection and maintenance to keep them watertight and functioning properly is a high priority.

By Jack and Alex Wilkin Why: You might be mounting or

remounting a winch because of a new installation, an upgrade, or resealing because of leaks, or a deck or mount failing or cracking. Where: Winches can be mounted

to the deck, on a spar, or onto a special bracket.

How: In all these situations the

type of fastenings used and the way in which they are supported will determine the success of the installation and its future. First off, winches and/or brackets

must be thru-bolted for strength (except for spar mounts (Figure 5). There are two basic differences in deck mounted winches: whether the deck is cored or solid changes the installation. In this article we will treat them the same except for dealing with the compression

problems associated with cored decks. Sealants: The type of sealant used is

important. The two products we use are Boatlife Life-Calk or 3M Fast Cure 4000 UV. We would not recommend silicon or 3M 5200. Silicon will not create a good bond and 5200 will make too strong of a bond and damage surfaces when you remove the winch. Backing plates: It is important to

spread the load from the bolts which secure the winch or the winch bracket to the deck. This is usually done by the use of a backing plate or large diameter washers (fender washers). Backing plates may be configured in one or several pieces depending on under deck configuration or obstacles. The thickness of the washers must be sufficient not to deform under pressure. This may be aided by the use of more

than one washer. Washers often will not fit because they require space outward from the maximum diameter of the winch base. Backing plates are usually 1/4 inch material and can most easily be made of aluminum (Fig 1). If the deck is steel, the aluminum must be electrically insulated from the deck, or steel or stainless steel should be used. Fastenings: Typically made of

stainless steel, they are subjected to plenty of vibration and intermittent tension while underway that can loosen them. There are various ways to counteract this; lock washers both split and star, nylock hex nuts, double nutting, and Locktite products. (We use Locktite Quickstix #248 because it does not drip off or increase the diameter of the treads, and in some cases it can even be used underwater.) Cored decks: This is best done from

Figure 1: Primary winches with aluminum backing plate, washers, and acorn nuts for aesthetics.

Figure 3

Figure 2: Cut fiberglass tape width to match depth of hole and roll until you have the same diameter as the hole.

winch base outer fiberglass


fiberglass reinforcement

inner fiberglass aluminum plate

48° NORTH, APRIL 2011 PAGE 40

the under-side of the deck. A cored deck requires some fiberglass work (Fig 2 ). This is because your winch installation may cause the core to compress and to make matters worst this will let water in which will degrade the core material leading to a deck failure. We replace the core material with solid fiberglass where the bolts pass through the deck. That will seal the deck and stop compression. Using a hole saw 1” or bigger to enlarge the mounting hole, drill up through the inside fiberglass skin and the core material- but not through the outer skin. If the original hole is larger than 1/4”, you will need a bushing to keep the hole saw centered. Before you apply the resin, roll fiberglass tape with a width equal to the depth of the larger diameter hole to determine how much you need- probably about 8’ (Fig 3). When you have rolled enough to fit tightly in the hole, then unroll it, prepare epoxy resin and wet out the fiberglass tape as you roll it again. Put wax paper over the backing plate and shore it into place with a piece of 2 x 4 or other wood, for example, to hold the rolls in place until the epoxy cures. When the resin cures, re-drill the winch mounting holes to the correct size for the bolts. If a cored deck is not reinforced, it will often leak at some point and then the core material will deteriorate. Obviously, this can cause bigger problems. Spar Mounting: On the spar you will need a flat area (Fig 4). This can be

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