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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hopkinson

Lofrans Tigres anchor Windlass Woes

So if you're wondering, where have all the City Dogs posts been lately, it's because we've been working on the boat, sweating through the October heat here in the Bay Islands getting it done. It's not like we've been diving or just kicking back in the pool to escape the heat, well, okay we've been doing some of that, but we've been doing a lot of projects on the boat, like installing a new, higher-output alternator which should allow us more flexibility recharging at anchor on those rare days when we don't get enough sun to power our big solar array.

One of the biggest projects we've wanted to tackle in the slow season here on the Honduran Bay Island of Roatan in the Western Caribbean is getting some high-quality good solid chain for our anchor. What we had was good, hell what we had is still good, it's just not good enough for us to trust City Dogs anchored on, so we got some new chain. And it came in a box, on a boat, some 200 feet of it, weighing 314 some odd pounds. In a cardboard box. It was sturdy.

Course, we couldn't get the same exact size chain, like everything else on our boat the sizing is wacky, off some European standard, so we had to get a new chainplate (gypsy) for our windlass (electric motor that raises/lowers anchor) that would fit our new chain. Simple, right? No big deal, right? Supposed to be no big deal.

Except I doubt any of those parts have moved in fifteen years of steady use in the Caribbean sun and salt (and probably little to no actual maintenance). Which meant even a relatively simple thing, like removing the wing nut from the end, turned into a monumental, days long struggle. When the nut didn't move counterclockwise like it should have (and eventually did), I followed some internet advice and tried cranking it clockwise as hard as I could, with predictable results -- the three pronged wing nut turning into a two-pronged wing nut.

We talk to Lofrans direct to get real advice from the horse's mouth and they say use fluids (like PB blaster), heat, and pressure, nothing we weren't already doing. They cautioned us to be careful with heat. They directed us to their great series of Youtube videos for the Tigres, and told us to do more annual maintenance. Ouch. We deserved it but even still it felt like a low blow. Regardless, we kept putting fluid and pressure on it, and finally locked the chainwheel down good so it couldn't move with the chain locked off on both ends and we got the wing nut off.

It felt like winning a battle but it was just step one. Getting the outer clutch cone off wasn't easy, either, but it eventually came off with some pulling, but the chain wheel (gypsy) should just have slid off at that point. Only it was held by a little key set that Lofrans didn't tell me about, but even with that removed, the gypsy refused to budge. Talk about beyond frustrating! It was bonded, seized, fused to the inner clutch cone, a piece that was being held onto the windlass by a different fastener, something we couldn't access without taking the rest of the windlass to pieces.

So we spent some time hammering on the gypsy, using various pieces of wood wedge in there catching the lip and eventually we managed to edge the gypsy off the inner clutch cone a little more than an inch, but it wasn't budging any farther than that. So one of our friends in the condos above the marina took pity on us and came down with a couple of angled wood pieces he'd just made that we wedged in between the gypsy and the windlass body. When we both hammed down on those wedges, the gypsy flew off like it hadn't been stuck on there for days.

The next morning, we went back to work, cleaned up all the parts, greased them up nice with white lithium grease like the Lofrans people recommend, and shockingly, it all went back together nice and easy. We tested it lightly, but haven't really put it under load as we're still figuring out how to get our anchor swivel off. The pin looked like an allen key pattern at first but it just bent when we tried to turn it with one of our allen wrenches. So we're thinking about drilling it out. Not entirely sure, that's a problem for tomorrow.

We've also got to splice our anchor rode onto the new anchor chain, so Steve is having fun learning how to splice three-braided line. Andrea's already an expert but Steve wants to do it this time. It's challenging work but once the line's soaked in fabric softener overnight, half the battle is already over. It's just a matter of watching the video and following the pattern.

Problems for today included finally getting our dinghy engine back from our mechanic up in Oak Ridge. He showed us what our previous mechanic had done wrong and made the guarantee that he'd stand behind his work and help us out if anything else went wrong with it. It ran nice there at his shop and out in the water around Oak Ridge, but we'll not be happy until we have it on Paw Patrol running reliably and smoothly, extending the range of our cruising, snorkeling, and diving excursions.

Unfortunately, that's a job for tomorrow because that engine is a beast, making a job for two, if not three, just getting the engine safely down into our dinghy. We'll get there. One step at a time. We've got plenty of other things to do but for now, we've happy with this one little small victory. We'll take it.


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