Re: [Amel] runaway winch & switches

Duncan Hagemeyer

All the more reason to keep a proper, sharp knife hanging on hook at the helm….maybe an extra on your belt.

From: amelyachtowners@... [mailto:amelyachtowners@...] On Behalf Of karkauai@...
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2012 6:35 PM
To: amelyachtowners@...
Subject: Re: [Amel] runaway winch & switches

Thanks for your detailed explanation, Serge. Like you, I'm no expert at things electrical. These systems have been very reliable on Amels for many years, but we have to know what to do in the event of a failure. And if there is a reasonable way to make them safer it would be wise to pirsue it. The primary winches are such powerful equipment that a runaway could cause a lot of damage if not injury.

Hope no one is in Isaac's way.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone powered by Alltel

-----Original Message-----
From: Serge Tremblay <laetitiaii@... <> >
Sender: amelyachtowners@... <>
Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2012 11:28:24
To: amelyachtowners@... <> <amelyachtowners@... <> >
Reply-To: amelyachtowners@... <>
Subject: Re: [Amel] runaway winch & switches

Hi Kent,

When I was suprised by the runaway winch, I immediately turned off the breaker on the panel above the fridge.

The winch seemed to stop, but I also ran to turn off the secondary breaker for the winches.

As I recall, 5 or 10 minutes later I did turn back on the secondary breaker and then the small breaker on the panel.
Nothing occured!

I tried the 2 operating switches next to the winch in the cockpit (there is also another switch in front of the helm - but i did not try it) and they both worked properly. I also tried operating the other winch ( Port) from the two switches in the cockpit. One of the switches did not work ! I must have been interrupted in my investigation since I retried the same switch the next day and it worked, I then spayed the contacts of the switches and of the relays with CorrosionX, and no disfunction reappeared.

When I finally (March of this year) dismanteled both circuits for the relays, the only obvious problem was noted for the Starboard relay. I suspect that for the Port winch, corrosion at the switch or its connection on the relay was the culprit! But the problem had no serious consequence and did not reoccur!

When I reinstalled the new relays, I followed the suggestion of a salesman that all the contacts be sprayed with clear varnish...

However the previous installation lasted so long, that I would have to be aboard at a 100+ year old to experiment with the same failures... with the same installation. I beleive that the 25% increase in price for the new higher duty relays is a small price for the added security.

The only concern I have for my fellow Amel owners and others using electric winches and windlass, is that, no matter how reliable is the installation, this equipment can and may cause serious harm if not used securely!
And relays and switches are rated for continuous or intermittent duty. Once contacts in switches or relays are damaged by arcquing,(? electrical arc) they become unreliable.

Finally I wonder if the spike suppression resistor or capacitor, set between the relay coil, that I learned of in electrical courses taken some 50 years ago, the capacitor being later replaced by diodes, could help preventing arcquing in the control switches. Without this spike suppression, I beleive that when the 12v switch is set to off, after being ON, the reverse voltage produced by the coil, could be a 100 volts or more! But this issue is beyond my limited knowledge. On the other hand, this could be a very inexpensive solution to damaging relay switches.
Maybe there is an expert in our group?

Serge V Opera Mango#51


De : "karkauai@... <> " <karkauai@... <> >
À : "amelyachtowners@... <> " <amelyachtowners@... <> >
Envoyé le : dimanche 26 août 2012 12h25
Objet : Re: [Amel] runaway winch & switches

Very interesting Serge. Were you able to shut the winch off at the winch breaker on 24V panel, the breaker for that particular winch, AND the 24v house bank switch when you had the runaway? It thought that any of the three should cut the power to the winch, but because the wires to the breakers are so small, I'm wondering if the 24V panel breaker and the specific breaker for that winch only control power to the relay which case shutting off the 24v house bank switch at the batteries would be the only way to shut down power to the winch motor.

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone powered by Alltel

-----Original Message-----
From: Serge Tremblay <>
Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2012 08:57:29
To: <> <>
Subject: Re: [Amel] runaway winch & switches


2 years ago, I intervened to report a runaway electric winch on my 1985 Mango ( ancestor to SM).

The switches were tested and showed no unusual caracteristic.

The relays were dismanteled and, on one of the positions, on one of the relays, there was a substantial resistance (measured in Ohms). This would evidence damage to the electrical contacts which would ( or could) cause overheating of the relay. Hence offer a probable cause for a disfunction. I cannot explain how, since I would have had to open these sealed relays, knowing that just by trying to open the relay, I could destroy any evidence of the consequence of overheating.

I replaced the relays, ensuring that I did not rely on the distributors assertion that the relays could work up to 1500 watts motors, since I discovered that, certain brands were 100 amp (continuous use) and other were 150 amps (continuous). I purchased the 150 amp model, at some +30E each. I also replaced the wiring between the relays and the motors (increasing the wire size), since there seemed to be some discoloration on the jacket of the wire???

No problem since then!

However the lesson has been learned:

Do not consider the winches or windlass as passive if the electric suply is ON. If any relay (called 'control box' by Lofrans) or switch in the circuit becomes defective...YOU may have to deal with the consequence of a runaway winch or windlass!

I use a winch to raise a crew up the mizzen and the windlass for the main! But the line is never locked on the self tailing and no more than 2 turns on the windlass (to avoid overlaping).

And I wonder if, the main fuse (or other similar electric protection) would cut out the electrical supply to the winch or windlass if and when the knots on the lines are pulled up to the top... and what would be the pressure exerted? Would the pulley or sheave break? I have heard riggers suggest not to use pulleys that are attached to the exterior of the mast, either directly with screws or with a shakle, would the risk be worsened with the use of an electric device?

Any specific knowledge in this group?

Serge, V Opera, Mango#51, lying in Martinique

De : Duncan <>
À :
Envoyé le : dimanche 26 août 2012 10h18
Objet : RE: [Amel] Re: Lewmar replacement winch switches

Hi Kent,

On shore leave for the past few months and must have missed the switch
discussion. (can't read all the posts)

I learned of the Antigua incident while there, and heard something about bad
switches. Is there a recall on the 54's. From a later post this morning, I
read comments that implied that the failure was with boats built 2005 or
earlier. My boat was built in the summer of 2005 and was marketed as a
2006. What is the process to apply for the kit and switches.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Sent: Saturday, August 25, 2012 5:10 PM
Subject: Re: [Amel] Re: Lewmar replacement winch switches

Does anyone know if this affects the SM's?


SM 243


Sent from my BlackBerryR smartphone powered by Alltel

-----Original Message-----

From: "Martin" <>


Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2012 23:03:02

To: <>


Subject: [Amel] Re: Lewmar replacement winch switches

I have also received the switch kit. Note that the problem is not just with
the genoa winch switches, it is also the main sheet6 winch and the anchor
windlass switches; hence why AMEL have sent 5 or 7 switches depending on
whether the boat has the second anchor winch option.

I have had two anchor winch switches fail due to water getting into the
internals and rotting the contacts, and I replaced them. Another developed,
for a short time the habit of occaisionally running on its own accord - good
seamanship says always tie the anchor down in this case to stop losing
everything overboard in the event of a switch failure.

I would imagine that Lewmar have a substantial problem with these switches,
not just with those fitted to Amel 54's.

Switch replacement next on the to do list.




Amel 54 #56

--- In, "Judy and Bill aboard SV BeBe"
<yahoogroups@...> wrote:

Hi Gary,
Did you order the switches, or were they sent to you because of a recall,
an update, or something related to Lewmar electric winch failures?

I am sure that you are aware of the loss of limbs on an Amel 54 in
Antigua. The Lewmar electric winch continued to run without any pressure on
the switch and pandemonium broke out on board resulting in the loss of an
arm from one crew member and the loss of fingers from another crew member.

If you received these switches as a recall or update, it is NOT just a
switch...AND...regardless, something like this is never just a switch.

BeBe, SM2k, #387
Currently Marmaris, Turkey
--- In, "Dave_Benjamin" <dave_benjamin@>

It's just a switch. Maybe another manufacturer offers a windlass switch
that will better match the size of your opening. I wouldn't drill any holes
just to make that switch fit. Have you checked the Lewmar catalog to see
what other switches they may have?

--- In, "bozo_cinq" <bozocinq@> wrote:
I have received the replacement winch switches from AMEL for my 54.
The switches are much larger than the original. Therefore, have run into a
problem in replacing the starboard cockpit switch in that to install the new
switch will mean that I will have to drill a hole through the ceiling in the
walk way above the captains bed/battery compartment. What have other 54
owners done to solve this issue????

Gary Wollenberg, #44
S/V Bozo Cinq


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