Saturday, March 3, 2012

Winch Upgrade

Summer Place has an electric winch. Its really an anchor windlass/capstan mounted and used as a winch -- a nice amenity when sailing single-handed or sending someone up the mast. The one on Summer Place however, had a very awkward placement (see photo) of the switch forcing you to stand on one leg while (trying to) depressing a very stiff foot switch on the coaming with your toe as you tail the winch. Its a very finicky switch too and must be pressed just so. It'd probably work fine if mounted on the floor so you could stand on it with all your weight. But not here...

I decided a foot switch on the floor was the way to go and bought a waterproof one on Ebay for 20 bucks. Its the kind used for electric trolling motors.

As I dug into the matter, I realized that the winch draws about 50 amps and uses 4 gauge wire to the battery with no solenoid. The entire 50 amps is running through the switch meaning the 2 ounce foot switch is going to have two 4 gauge wires running to it. Not good.

Back to Ebay for a solenoid. I chose one rated for 80 amps continuous duty. Another 17 bucks. With a solenoid, the switch will handle less than 1 amp allowing for use of a small and flexible wire. I chose to use 16 gauge.

Next, I fabricated a StarBoard housing for the foot switch, installed the cord and a cigarette lighter style plug on the end. The plug has a fuse built into it to prevent any short circuit.

The foot switch plugs into an existing outlet on the sidewall of the cockpit just below the seat. The plug is wired to the solenoid which dutifully activates the winch when you step on the switch.

Now, you can use the electric winch from any position in the cockpit to raise the sail, go up the mast, or retrieve the dinghy. Afterward, the switch can be disconnected and put away so its not underfoot.

No comments:

Post a Comment