How to service a Lewmar winch

I recently serviced all of my winches and found the process to be straightforward and satisfying in a clean-and-tidy improvement sort of way.   Most of the work consisted of cleaning the old gunk off of the winch parts.  

There are an abundance of videos on-line for how to service winches.  Here’s one I followed from Lewmar, the manufacturer of my winches: 

Here is Christian Williams on Barient winches.  Here is Sailing Britican on Lewmar winches.

The service is straightforward: 

  1. Disassemble the winch without losing any parts, including the tiny springs that keep the pawls clicking open.  Some people recommend cutting out the bottom of a small plastic pail and then putting the pail around your winch as you lift off the bell housing, to prevent small parts from skittering overboard.
  1. Clean off any old grease scudge.  Depending on how frequently the winches have been serviced, the old grease may be abundant, or have taken on a wax-like, Lenin-in-the-mausoleum quality.
  1. Lightly lubricate the newly-cleaned parts, including a few drops of oil on the pawls, and a light coat of grease on all of the contact surfaces of the gears, spindle and needle bearings.  
  1. Re-assemble the winch. 

My Lewmar winches can be completely disassembled without removing the main bracket from the mounting surface.  I took a number of pictures of how things fit together to remind myself for the re-assembly process.

I started with the gummiest stickiest winch and began disassembly.  I would venture that the Lewmar winch assembly is far less complex than the Barient winches shown in Christian William’s blog post.  

This is a Lewmar 30 two-speed: 

I brought the parts home and started with a soak in some acetone, followed by a further soak in some Goof Off.  A stiff bristled toothbrush and small plastic pail. 

The pawls were in fine shape and somehow I managed not to lose any of the tiny springs. 

From Defender I had purchased a Lewmar Winch Maintenance Pack which contains some very light oil and some grease and a small paint brush intended for the application of the grease to the cleaned parts.  Probably any light oil and light grease will work fine.  The maintenance pack also includes 10 pawl springs in case any cricket away from you during disassembly.

Reassembly based on pictures etc.  Clickety-click, lickety split.