Friday, August 26, 2016

Making a Windlass Leak Catchment

--Blogpost written by Bob

Ever since the installation of our Maxwell RC8-8 windlass we have experienced rainwater leaks from the vertical shaft of the windlass onto the foot of our bedding in the v-berth. 

The windlass installation looks great but I never thought it would leak rainwater
onto our v-berth.  The rain that lands on the windlass drains into
the cavities around where the chain is attached to the gypsy
and runs down the vertical shaft of the windlass.

A simple plastic trash bag placed over the windlass (with something to hold it down) easily prevents the rainwater leaks as a temporary solution.

A plastic trash bag over the windlass works to keep the rainwater out
but it doesn't look very professional.  It also won't hep much
keeping the water out when the anchor chain is retrieved

The leaks don't come in from around the windlass but down the shaft and, during a heavy rainstorm, it drips at the rate of up to one drip per second.  I've talked with the people at Vetus-Maxwell about the leaks and their response was "Some water will come down the shaft, particularly when the unit is used.  If for some reason it is necessary for the mainshaft/motor/gearbox to be over or in a v-berth, you may be able to build some sort of drybox with a drain inside the boat to catch and remove the moisture. Just be sure to adequately ventilate that box so that moisture is not trapped, prematurely aging your below-deck windlass components."

We have not used the windlass yet to retrieve our anchor.  I am concerned that we will experience similar leakage (of salt water) from the wet anchor chain as it is retrieved from the water.  So, I thought it important to design a water catchment system that drains into the anchor locker--and to do this before I built cabinetry around the below deck portion of the windlass.

The leaking rainwater actually drips form the gear housing (at the red arrow).

To accommodate drips from the gear housing of the windlass, I decided to make the catchment 5.5 inches fore-to-aft and 6 inches athwart ship.  The depth would be just enough to get good drainage.  I made a cardboard mock up of the catchment before making one using 3/32 inch thick modeling wood.  I temporarily fastened the individual pieces of modeling wood together with G-flex.  After shaping the modeling wood structure with a sanding tool in a Dremel device, I started laying up fiberglass cloth on the first surface of the wood structure.

Since this is such a small structure, I had to lay up one surface at a time and clean off the excess fiberglass cloth with a sander after each layer.  This made the layup process very time consuming.  In this photo, the first layer of fiberglass cloth was wetted out on the on the modeling wood which was saturated with slow-curing epoxy.  The catchment is upside down in this photo.

Once the structure was established, I managed to buy a small piece of fiberglass tube from Goodwind Composites The piece of tube was a drop off from another order and was listed on their website as a clearance item. 

I preferred fiberglass tubing for the drain pipe due to
ease of fastening it to the catchment trough.

After the drain pipe was attached I smother out the internal
transition suing epoxy with West #407 filler.

The completed catchment trough is shown here after priming it with KILZ.
This is the position in which it will be installed, with the drain tube
going through the forward bulkhead into the anchor locker.

After priming I painted the catchment trough with some coral color paint
that we had left over from painting our spice rack in the galley.

Completed leak catchment in place.

This little project took a long (elapsed) time to complete.  I hope it works while retrieving the anchor--we won't be able to test it before we leave.

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