For Grand Banks, Alaskans, East Bay & Aleutian Yachts


Postby kildarian » Mon May 13, 2019 10:40 pm

1968 32' Woodie. Have had Windlass system "overhauled" after it stopped operating last fall. It is now operational - the only reference I can find as to its origin is a 2003 Work Order that references an "Elks electric Windlass". The electrician that worked on the restoration has left a Note/Warning on the invoice "BOAT IS NOT SAFE AS WINDLASS CABLE HAS NO FUSE OR BREAKER". The system has a Marine Battery Master Switch DPST On/Off - which appears not be a breaker. I have had two surveys on the boat with no mention of this as an issue.


Electrician insists he needs to know the amp-draw of the Windlass to be able to install the correct Circuit Breaker.

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Postby Nobby » Wed May 15, 2019 12:15 pm

What voltage, pictures/size as a way to estimate load?

Were it me for starters I would choose to install a Fuse rather than a Circuit Breaker that way you can suck it and see at mininal extra cost. Start off with the concept that even an oversized fuse is better than no fuse. Your looking to protect the cable itself from a dead short as much if not more than the unit itself. An oversized fuse faced with a dead short supplied by batteries will still blow. In theory you should be sizing the fuse to the ampacity of the cable but depending on what the cable size is and the initial start up current draw of the motor it gets a little more complicated than that. However simply have the electrician with a Clamp Meter get a measure on current draw and go from there in fuse size. A marine electrician in the business should own a clamp meter! Essentially if necessary moving up on fuse size until it stops blowing when you work the windlass.

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Postby 2Bucks » Sat May 18, 2019 7:29 pm

My Lofrans Tigres suggests a 160 amp breaker on their web page. The suggestion to size your breaker to the wire size is good advice also. Charts for figuring breaker size by wire size is available on the web. However one never knows if someone put in wire larger than needed for your windlass or skimped and put in barely adequate wire. If you've been running the windlass without problems for some length of time, I'd assume it's adequate if I had no windlass manufacturer information to go on.

I will relate my experience coming back from Alaska last year. I noticed a few times during anchor retrieval that my windlass would continue to run for a short time, a second or so, after I let off the foot switch. Just a second or two, but I did notice it. By the time we got back down to Campbell River, after a 12 hour run from Port McNeill, I went to drop the hook and nothing happened when I pushed the switch to let out the chain. I found the breaker was tripped. When I reset the breaker the windlass would jiggle the chain and it would immediately trip again. So I tracked it down to the foot switch getting water into it thru sun baked rubber cover. I replaced the switch and all is fine with the windlass again, we continued to anchor many times afterward.

Why did I tell you the story? Because the breaker is sized to the windlass and when it brought the anchor up tight to the pulpit, it tripped the breaker rather than continue to pull and burn up the windlass or inadequate sized wire.

Now the idea of fuses rather than a breaker is good too, you can fine tune what's really needed. But, how many fuses will you carry and at what cost? I reset my breaker probably 5 or 6 times while figuring out what the problem was.

Using a clamp on ammeter as previously suggested would give you the amperage when retrieving your anchor and all your chain but doesn't take into account an anchor well stuck in the bottom which we all pull against every so often.

So what's the magic answer? I don't know. But the size smaller windlass than mine, the Cayman, suggests a 110 amp or 150 amp breaker depending on which wattage motor you buy. Take a wild guess as to what yours needs by looking at similar sized units and give it a try.
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Postby Rod Graff » Sun May 19, 2019 10:46 am

Any fuse used on a motor should be a dual element time delay fuse to account for the starting surge of the motor. All inductive loads require this type of fuse, or they will blow pre maturely. My windlass has a switch designed with an overload and reset button specially designed for the application.
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Postby GB42-267 » Sun May 19, 2019 3:24 pm

I suggest using a clamp on Amp meter while running the winch, your electrician should be able to do this and then size the breaker to match the amp draw. I don't really understand why the electrician didn't already test this instead of just making an unsafe statement without any further explanation.
Just make sure the wire feeding the winch can handle the amp draw and size your fuse/breaker accordingly. Any capable electrician should be able to do this and make the proper installation.
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