Windlass work lasted nearly two weeks, but the moral of today's post: Make sure you're shaft fits before putting in final bolts.

A Windlass install is more work than you think when you’ve never done it before…..and the current set-up was done as custom work.  Here’s the 3rd post in my series Windlass Install For Dummies…

So in review, I took the old existing 1977 windlass off my boat and wanted to install a brand new windlass, but didn’t realize that last one had been a custom install.  After getting the initial hole drilled with two different 5-inch hole saws, I started to run into trouble.  The windlass is supposed to be put through the deck from inside the chain locker, through the hole and be mounted via bolts from the topside housing of the windlass.  As soon as I finished the drilling of the initial hole, I knew I was in trouble when the housing would not fit through the 5-inch hole from inside to outside.

Here’s the hole and the second hole-saw once I was done with the initial hole.

My challenge was that this was the size the template and directions told me to drill in order to get the windlass body through the hole.  I knew what the problem was:  the hole wasn’t perfectly straight and wasn’t perfectly drilled; so any slight variation in the hole through the deck would stop the windlass housing from going straight through nicely from inside the chain locker to outside onto the deck.  So I didn’t have the exact tools at all to widen the hole the right way…there is no 1/2 size larger hole saw and I didn’t have the right saw at the time to make the hole larger correctly.  So I started exploring other options for widening the hole, including several types of sanding bits and other solutions that all proved too slow or delicate.

First thought was to use this chisel bit, but it went straight and didn’t take enough off.
Second try was this sanding bit on my drill, waaaay too slow and delicate.

After another day of dicking around, the hole started to take on a life of its own.  Finally in frustration I borrowed a friends Sawzall reciprocating saw and started to make more aggressive cuts in the hole.  Remember it’s supposed to be round?  It started to take on a weird oblong look but I was determined to get the hole large enough for the windlass body to get through.  At this point I took a break, as I knew I needed to measure, check and drill the new hawse hole.  A Hawse Hole simple means the separate hole that chain and rope (called Rode) use to get up and down from the chain locker.  On my new install, the old Hawse hole was too far away from the new windlass to use, so I needed to drill another one.  This hole proved to be easier, because the smaller hole saw was going through solid wood and deck, with no existing hole already there.  This means the drill bit was able to be used as a guide, making the process MUCH easier.  Here’s the beginning of the hole:

Beginning of the new hole.

After finishing the drilling, I scavenged a 1 3/4 inch piece of PVC sprinkler line from the maintenance guys at the Marina and glued it into place, knowing this would save the wood around the new Hawse Hole. Here’s how that looked:

Finally the Windlass body fit through….but I wasn’t smart enough to make sure the Windlass SHAFT fit through the body perfectly when it was all in place from inside to outside.  Here’s your tip in this post:  Make sure your Windlass SHAFT goes through perfectly before you ever start bolting, sealing, glueing or anything else (MAKE SURE THE SHAFT FITS).  Would have saved me another week and having to admit I screwed up, again.  Once this was done, I put down the bedding compound as per the directions, using Dolfinite Natural Bedding Compound for this portion of the install.

Notice the weird shape of the hole? Bedding compound in place.

Finally, the upper body of the Windlass fit: 

Next would come frustration and embarrassment till I was saved by the skill and know-how of a friend here on the docks.  But I’ll save that for Friday.  Here’s the first two posts in this Windlass for Dummies series:

We’re prepping to go Bluewater sailing with family and Quincy the Boat Great Dane.  Keeping following for our adventures-

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