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Halyard-winch rehab (part 2 of 2)

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Once I knew where things were going to be, I needed to figure out how to build “pads” to get them to the right height and angle. That was an interesting challenge.

I first ordered a couple of angled teak winch pads from Amazon. Besides being the wrong diameter, they were nowhere near the right angle. I made some calls and determined that nobody I knew, knew anyone who could (would?) build teak pads to my spec. And *I* certainly don’t have the skills to do it.

My second great idea was to have pads milled out of Delrin or similar. I have a friend who is a machinist, with mill and lathe and all sorts of other medieval-looking power-tools in his shop. He said, sure, he could do that for me – all he’d need would be fully-dimensioned engineering drawings that showed plan and elevation views and documented the correct angles. Ugh.

What I ended up doing was… well, stupid-simple. I found that the bottom of a “snapware” food-storage container from the local grocery store was just about the same size and shape as the bottom of the Spinlock triple clutches. I ended up using these as molds, but upside down so I could take advantage of the taper in the sides of the container. Taped the containers to the deck where I wanted the clutches to go, cut the *bottom* off with a Dremel tool, and then filled the container with successive pours until I got to the right height. A bit of shaping with a belt-sander, some all-weather gray paint from Home Depot, and… custom pads!!! (note the water-level in the photo)

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For the winch pads, I found that the bottom of a 2-1/2 quart mixing bucket from West Marine had a diameter that amost exactly matched the bottom on the Lewmar winches. I taped a bucket in place on the deck where each winch would go, and poured in thickened epoxy…. Which found its own level thanks to the Law of Gravity. When done, I had a solid-epoxy disc, with an angle on one face that matched the angle of the deck at that spot, and an angle on the opposite face that matched the horizon. When flipped over, it ended up being a nearly-perfect pad with a neatly rounded top edge thanks to the shape of the bucket.

Yeah, okay, that sounds way easier than it really was. I had a few…uh… “test versions” along the way. The first one, I figured I could just fill the molds up to the height I wanted the pad to be, and I’d be done. Great idea, but apparently if you pour it in too thick, the epoxy generates a lot of heat. It smoked and boiled and bubbled so much that I pulled the molds off the deck and put them on the concrete dock until it was “done” smoking, just in case it burst into flame or something.

What ended up working was a succession of small pours. Enough epoxy to fill the mold about ¼” deep when sitting on a level surface. When that had gone off, I scrubbed off the amine blush, roughed up the surface with a sanding disk, wetted in a piece of 1-1/2oz mat, and poured another batch with the bucket tilted at a slight angle. Repeated a couple of times, with slightly steeper angles each time, until the last pour was with the mold taped on deck at the “real” angle. They came out great.

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Probably the hardest part of the whole project was drilling the first hole. That gelcoat looked SO nice! But… until I had the new stuff mounted, I couldn’t go sailing. That’s a strong motivator.

One of the things I noticed when I pulled the old deck gear off was that all of the clutch and winch fasteners were bent. The tops of the old pads were at an angle to the deck, but the nuts and washers on the underside were at the angle of the deck, and when they were tightened the bolts bent to accommodate the difference in angle. Perhaps why the holes were drilled oversized.

I wanted the loads to be straight. Which meant drilling straight down through the top of the pad, resulting in an angled hole through the deck…. And then what? I called my machinist friend, and he told me there was such a thing as an “angled washer”. So I got some from McMaster-Carr. They weren’t cheap – about 2 bucks each – but they work great. The fasteners come down through the deck at an angle, but then these angle washers create a nice straight load-line between the top and the bottom. Probably nobody in the world will ever care but me, but it seems like a good solution.

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Anyway, it’s all done and I’m really happy with it. The lines lead clean and fair. The winches and clutches are level and secure. And it *works*. On the port side, outside-to-in is spin-halyard, jib halyard and 2nd-reef; on the other side (outside to in) is spin-halyard, main halyard and 1st reef.
I still have a couple of things to do – I want to re-install the jackline anchors, and maybe – maybe – add a couple of cleats. And deal with the “butyl-ooze” as I do little tightening events as Maine Sail recommends. But the main thing is… I can go sailing again. And then, on to the next project...

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(posted from the rendezvous at the Genoa Bay marina…)

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  1. Loren Beach's Avatar
    I (and EY member Grizz, in Chicago) made our angled washers out of bar stock aluminum. Pix are in my cockpit winch base writeup. Since we needed a certain angle it was best to cut them with a chop saw using an abrasive blade.

    Your project came out really nice. I need to do something like this soon in order to make room to have a new dodger fabricated. Hope you can post up pix from the Rendezvous!
  2. Kenneth K's Avatar
    Bruce, the poured bases look great. I started this same job and got about halfway done pulling the old hardware. Then I rigged some work-arounds so I could sail with no clutches and a single winch. Much like you suspected, once I started sailing, the project has been sitting idle for over a month.

    One of these days......
  3. bgary's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Beach
    Since we needed a certain angle
    Yeah. I tried calculating the angle (math is hard!). As near as I can tell, the cabintop slopes aft about 8 degrees, and slopes outward about 12 degrees, for a net angle of about 16 degrees under the winches. The McMaster Carr washers are about 8 degrees, so I bought enough to put two under each fastener, but as it turned out a single angle-washer seemed to work out acceptably well.
  4. 907Juice's Avatar
    That looks amazing. Well done with the attention to detail. I love seeing DIYers get it right. I’m sorry, hopefully I don’t distract from your post, but I do have to ask one question. What is a spin halyard?
  5. bgary's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by 907Juice
    What is a spin halyard?
    It is a lazy (sorry!) way of saying “spinnaker halyard”. I have two of them (port and starboard).

    Updated 07-09-2018 at 06:55 PM by bgary
  6. 907Juice's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by bgary
    It is a lazy (sorry!) way of saying “spinnaker halyard”. I have two of them (port and starboard).

    duh... even I should’ve been able to figure that one out.