Ken Surplice
Dear learned Seals,

Why would a keel winch motor raise every time but hesitate to lower?

My P275 is on its third electric winch. It has been modified to strengthen its cheeks and has performed faithfully for a good amount of time. It has its axle regularly sprayed with silicone lubricant.

The electrics are original from Parker and fitted professionally many years ago.

Recently the setup has been reluctant to lower the keel. Raising works every time. Pressing the lowering button produces a clunk but no action. Repeated presses seem to eventually coax it into action at which point it may hesitate or continue to lower. When finally operating, it sounds right. A clue is that a brief burst of up immediately followed by pressing the down button does usually work.

Does the team have an idea of which component might be faulty?
Paul Gray
Hi Ken,
Sorry to hear that you've been having keel-winch problems.
It does seem that your fault is likely to be in the control-electrics.
I'm not familiar with the Parker control system as Indianna has a bespoke system fitted by a previous owner. However, assuming that the Parker system consists basically of two relays, one for each direction of travel, maybe the down relay is working intermittently, or there is a high resistance connection in the wiring from cockpit-mounted switch to relay coil.
If the system does have two discrete relays, and they are of the plug-in variety, a simple first check might be to temporarily swap the relays.
Otherwise, you could try shorting the output of the down relay to bypass the control side of the relay circuit.

Hy Ken,
I am not sure about the electrics (over my head really), but I think it would be worthwhile having a good look at the central winch spindle and make sure that is has not partly seized and enlarged the holes in the side cheeks making an ellipse. The winch when pulling up moves the spindle centrally so it can rotate, but when letting the keel down, the spindle moves out of true and jams. Juggling the keel up and down may release the spindle.
You have probably checked this already and you mention strengthened side cheeks, so I may be way off the mark, but the winch failure I had is burnt into my soul!
Good luck
Bob Simpson
Ken Surplice
Bob, thanks for your suggestions. Much appreciated as I continue to look for a solution. Although I regularly spay lubricant on the winch axle and have extra bearings supporting the axle (the modification to prevent the axle wearing an eclipse in the side plate), I will take another look.

I’ve removed and cleaned all connectors from the relay box and that made no difference. Raising the keel always works. Lowering usually doesn’t work unless a) I press the down button immediately after pressing the up button (therefore tricky when the keel is fully raised) or b) I press the down button four or five times, which is not always successful.

When I press the down button I always hear a clunk from the relay even if the winch does not move. Once the keel eventually starts to lower everything sounds right. If I can’t see anything wrong with the main spindle and the extra supports I will find the identity for the relay box and order a replacement. It’s a single box unit that Parker supplied.
Peter Scrivens
Hi Ken
These electric winches have a very clever arrangement with a friction brake on the electric motor. This is mounted on a hub which only drives in one direction, the idea being that it freewheels when the motor is lifting the keel, but provides sufficient friction, which with the gearing, is sufficient to hold the keel at any position when lowering and the motor is stopped.

Perhaps worth checking that this idea is still working and the disc brake has not become seized somehow.

Peter (Zephyr)
Ken Surplice
Thanks to all for your suggestions. I’m happy to report that the problem eventually cleared itself and now the winch is as happy to lower as it is to raise. I’m thinking it was a bit of muck on the brake disk, as Peter proposed, as this would explain why up worked but down did not. Meanwhile I will continue to ensure the spindle is well lubricated, especially as this is my third winch.