If you've a Maxwell VWC1200 anchor windlass

Just a heads up for those with a Maxwell VWC1200 anchor windlass aboard:

I dropped out Zygote’s New Zealand made (with an Italy-made CIMA electric motor) anchor windlass for a full service last month. That was the first full service after 12 years (but don’t tell anyone! Deal is that if no oil is leaking past the bottom seal and - most important - the top seal is okay and no seawater has run down the shaft to cause corrosion and potentially enter the gearbox via the top seal, the Maxwell should give good service).

Big news is that Maxwell has devised a new lubrication system for the gearbox. The previous or original Maxwell recommendation was to use an SAE 90 gear oil to fill the oil bath in which the worm gear runs. And to regularly check the oil level at the sight glass (which also allows detection of any metal filings). The sight glass is also the simple fill/drain point (it’s a 22 mm hex) and has an O-ring behind it.

The new practice is to use a grease-oil combination that was devised by Maxwell. I don’t know the specs, but I was assured that it brings many advantages: superior lubrication because it adheres better to the gear faces; cooler running because of the superior lubrication; and less pressure exerted by the lubricant on the seals.

The side effects are 1. that it may be less easy to check the lube level; and 2. that it’s less easy for you and me to change the grease-oil by draining using gravity via the sight glass.

The new lubricant is a blue colour that shows up well in the sight glass. But as received from my local Maxwell service agent, the lube shows at about the 1/3 level in the sight glass (I’m thinking of using a marker pen to indicate the acceptable level). Lubricant changes might have to be done by a Maxwell service agent who does more than just unscrew the sight glass and let gravity work on oil.

My tip for removing the underdeck parts (i.e. the gearbox-motor unit):

After removing the top works (clutch nut, warping drum/capstan, and cones), screw the clutch nut back on the shaft. That allows the person above deck to lower the unit under control after removing the 4 through-deck bolts.

My tip for re-installing the underdeck parts (which weigh about 22 kg/48 #):

Find a couple of younger & stronger arms to offer the gearbox-motor up to the overhead and feed the shaft through the deck.