[Amel] Re: Genoa sheets and runaway winches

Judy and Bill aboard SV BeBe <yahoogroups@...>


The breaker on the 24v panel only turns off the low-amp side of the voltage to the relays/solenoids of the electric winches, the furlers and outhaul, and to the windlass. The high-amp side of voltage still remains ON when the 24v panel breaker is OFF. If any of the relays/solenoids fails and closes the high-amp side, the motor will run with the 24v panel breaker set to OFF. Some of you may remember "hot wiring" a starter solenoid on a car with the key switch OFF...same principle.

In my opinion there are two possible/probable causes of a runaway electric winch:
---One is if the winch/windlass control button fails and closes...this will cause the winch to runaway if the 24v panel breaker and the high-amp breakers are ON.
---The other potential cause could be if the the relay/solenoid fails and closes, the winch will runaway even if the 24v panel breaker set to OFF.

As Eric posted, on a Super Maramu, the PORT winch high-amp breaker is in the engine room, the STARBOARD side high-amp breaker is above the passage berth, and the windlass high-amp breaker is inside the forward port side locker in the V berth.

The troubling Caribbean story about the loss of limbs caused me to always acquaint new crew members with all of the breakers and their purposes.

A "runaway windlass" on an Amel equipped with the low-amp control switches on top of the windlass is almost always caused by water egress into the switch which is a direct result of damage to the rubber switch covers. Egress of water causes the switch to close and the windlass to runaway. These rubber covers should be inspected regularly. My experience in the tropics is that UV damage will shorten the life of the rubber cover to about 3 years. I do not agree with earlier postings that the location of the windlass switches on top of the windlass causes the problem. This sort of windlass runaway operation is problematic with deck-mounted foot switches and deck-mounting will open one more hole in the deck...in my opinion, a much bigger problem.

Hope this helps.


BeBe, SM2k, #387
Crete, Greek Islands

--- In amelyachtowners@yahoogroups.com, Kent Robertson <karkauai@...> wrote:

If the winches are turned off at the 24v panel, does that shut off all possiblity of the winches running, or do you have to turn them off at their individual breakers or even the primary 24v breaker at the battery bank?
We've always turned them off at the 24v panel, but now I'm questioning if that's enough.
As for taking someone up the mast, turning the winches off when at the top of the mast is a great idea too.  We need to know where the closest fail-safe switch is that can be thrown in the event of a runaway.
Craig (Sangaris) taught me to tie the secondary safety line off at the halyard winch and use a rolling hitch to move up and down that line.  With the real possiblilty of runaway winch, I will now ALWAYS use that method instead of using the two jib winches together for my primary and secondary lines.
What would you recommend I purchase as a method of going up the mast without relying on the winches (ie if I were single-handing)? There are several products on the market that I'd like to hear some feedback on.  Perhaps that's the best way to go up every timye!?
Scary, huh?!
SM2K 243

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