Bandit's Windlass - More Research

I've been thinking this evening about the trips and adventures we hope to go on this year after Bandit is relaunched. Our huge adventure is to get through Denver Sluice (at the very downstream end of the River Great Ouse) and head out past Kings Lynn and through to The Wash. We've never taken Bandit out at sea before so we're really looking forward to the adventure.

Now, the only worry is something going wrong. Should something go wrong, we need a reliable anchor and windlass. The windlass does work and the 10kg Bruce anchor will hold Bandit nicely. But, there are a couple of bits we need to see to regarding the windlass itself.
Bandit's early 1990's model Lofrans Airon 12v electric windlass

One: the rode gypsy that allows you to manually feed out the chain is corroded to the windlass and therefore will not turn to let out any chain. Nor can it be removed. I've tried drenching it in WD-40 but it simply won't budge. We can let chain out using the windlass electrically but should we need to get the chain out quickly, we need to be able to use the rode gypsy manually. So, we need to get a puller and some heat on the drum and knock it off.

Two: the 25-year-old, original Lofrans mechanical solenoids are in very bad shape and need replacing as soon as possible. They are very rusty and our friends on their 290A had to replace theirs due to the same problem. Ours are still working but won't be for too much longer. We do not want a solenoid fault while out at sea.

Three: the 50amp circuit breaker originally fitted to the boat was faulty and we have temporarily replaced it with a 50amp fuse. We need to purchase a new breaker to ensure we are able to get the windlass working again as soon as possible. We don't want to be fiddling around with screwdrivers and fuses if we are in need of the windlass. The 50amp breaker is £50 approximately so it's not cheap. Needs to be done, however. You can't really put a price on something that is essential to your safety at sea.

So, I've done some research into our solenoids and found that we can replace the old mechanical style (one for up, one for down) for a new box type. This is a single unit and is a lot smaller than the two existing solenoids. It is far more reliable where it has no exterior moving parts. Everything is enclosed inside the box so it's away from the outside elements. And here's the next bit of news. The Lofrans mechanical solenoids are £110 to replace. The Lofrans box-type solenoid unit is £50. And even better, I have sourced a load of eBay which are as little as £35. We will get this £35 unit as it has very good reviews and is claimed to be heavy duty and made with the Lofrans windlasses in mind. The wiring will remain exactly the same but I have noticed it's all looking a bit shabby in the anchor locker (where the solenoids and windlass motor is fitted). I'll crimp new terminals onto the cables and heat shrink the ends to ensure all remains good. This will have to be done when Bandit is back in the water as our jobs list is long enough as is...

New box-type solenoid - far more reliable, easier to wire up, takes up less space and is far cheaper.
Old style Lofrans mechanical solenoid - open to the elements, can be unreliable where it relies on bigger moving parts and is more than double the price.


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