Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I bought the LEWMAR H3 12 volt windlass January 22, 2005 at the Atlantic City Sail Boat Show from NORTH EAST RIGGING SYSTEMS of Needham MA for $1968.00 plus $38.00 shipping. This was a boat show price and a good deal at the time and it was my birthday present to myself. I am from 1/24/41, yeah an old guy with a big boat. This is the largest, best horizontal WINDLASS that LEWMAR makes. The replacement cost from Defender is now $3119.10. It has only been used maybe 25 times since it was installed in 2010. It sat on the shelf at home for 5 years.
In the summer of 2014 DUTCHESS was struck by lightning which killed all of the electronics. Boat US insurance covered the damages with a $20,000 check. One of the items replaced was the contactor on the windlass. I thought that maybe the motor also needed to be replaced but Walter said no it usually is only the contactor that goes bad. I bought the contactor from Samalot Marine in Haverstraw NY and it was installed by their technician Walter in July/August 2014. The windlass was tested and it turned clockwise and counterclockwise when the up or down control buttons were pushed, so it was fixed I thought. I did not test it again until June 11, 2015 see below for full account.
Dutchess was hauled for the winter and put on land with my jack stands. The mast was removed and laid on a 2by4 support system. The entire boat was covered with tarps and winterized to be out in our NY winter and it was some winter. In the spring Dutchess was uncovered and readied to be launched. We left the mast lying on the boat because I planned to start the American Great Circle Cruise on May 15, 2015 and the first leg is the Erie Canal which has minimum height. We actually left on May 16th for the New York Rivers Boating Festival at Hudson NY and then on May 18 continued on to Waterford. Then Dutchess and crew traveled the entire Erie Canal to Tonawanda NY. In Tonawanda we stepped the mast and went to Buffalo Yacht Club to change crew. Then we did the entire length of the Lake Erie, the Detroit River, Lake St Clair, and the St Clair River to Huron MI. On this entire trip we did not anchor so did not use the windlass even once and it had not been run or tested since Samalot Marine.
In Huron I planned to go up the mast which we do using the windlass as an electric winch to haul me up the mast. I do this by wrapping a jib halyard around the windlass capstan and with someone tailing and pushing the buttons I go up the mast like an elevator. I attached the portable push buttons, turned on the power to the windlass and pushed the button. Nothing happened only faint clicks where heard from the windlass which is the contactor pulling in. Similar to what happens when you try to start a car with a weak battery. So I checked voltage on the power wires and had 13.4 so no power problem. What is going on????
We sailed to Port Sanilac where I removed the Windlass cover and checked the wires for power and had the same voltage. Then I checked the three control wires at the contactor with the volt meter and as soon as I touched two of them they fell away from the NEW contactor.
The picture below shows the problem.
Figure 1, Contactor with broken pins
Two of the male pins which are normally potted into the contactor fell out and are in the female connector attached to the control wire. Further observation showed that the pin is broken off inside the contactor and only the broken end is in the connector.  The pins of right red wire and the middle gray wire are broken; the left red wire is still intact. I had the Port Sanilac Marina techs look at it and they said I needed a new contactor and that would solve my problem? I questioned this as I told them I had jumped the incoming hot wire to the motor power stud and nothing happened. Again I have done the same on car starters to find if I had a bad starter solenoid. They insisted that it was the contactor so we ordered a new contactor which arrived in 2 days.

The technician removed the old contactor and installed the new. To do this he had to remove the nuts from the motor power studs and reattach. As he tightened the nuts I noticed that the studs moved slightly. After it was reassembled we pushed the up and down buttons and again heard the clicks but louder this time since the cover was off, but no action from the motor. I am looking over the motor much aggravated of course and noticed that the right motor stud was up and out of its socket. We wiggled the other studs and they came right out with little effort.

Figure 2, motor showing broken studs with contactor removed

 Figure 3, shows the 2 power studs removed and the ground stud out of the motor but still attached to the ground wire.

Figure 4, shows the three power stud holes where the studs should be. 

Figure 5, another view of the studless motor

Now we knew we needed a new motor of course the owners manual shows that you cannot buy onlya motor you have to buy a motor gear case assembly which includes a contactor. This we tried to order at 2:30pm  for next day delivery and were told by the Marina lady that Lewmar has a 6 week delivery time on the assembly. Much frustrated I told her to order the part and drop ship it to a Marina in Chicago where I hope to be in 6 weeks. I had to order here because at any later marina it would still be 6 weeks.
Questions with NO answers;
1, Why did the contactor studs break off?
2, Why did the power studs come out of the motor?

In Presque Isle I called Lewmar Tech Support trying to find out why my windlass malfunctioned.
After my lengthy explanation of the problem, I told him that I had ordered a motor gearbox assembly thru Port Sanilac Marina.
He asked why we had ordered the assembly while the motor was available from Lewmar.
I stated that the Lewmar owner’s manual only gave the assembly part number not the motor.
He stated that the motor was available and could be sent anywhere overnight and that Crowley Yacht Yard in Chicago was their dealer in this area.
I can get the motor for $500.00 and the Contactor for $200.00 from Crowley and have it shipped to a Marina.

So I quickly called Sanilac Marina to cancel the order for the assembly and credit my Credit Card the $643.13 partial charge. Their full charge was $1050.00 plus shipping.  Of Course Sarah who is the only one who knows about this? is away until Thursday! This story will continue!

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