Rebuilding a Lewmar 6 winch

Lewmar 6 winch maintenance step by step.

Rebuilding a Lewmar 6 winch

I pulled the two Lewmar 6 winches from the top of the Catalina 22 that I parted out when I first got my boat. Additionally there was an old Barlow winch in storage in the boat. None of the winches were in good shape and they only one of the three turned at all. I would like to replace the winches on my boat with these more up to date version as the one on there now are original and do not have the typical handle setup as modern winches.

I had never services a winch before, and had never even seen inside of the Lewmar winch, I literally cut them out of the old boat, so I didn't take them apart to in order to unbolt them like normal.

This is a step by step guide on how I rebuilt my winches. The only part that I needed was the springs that hold pieces together, I will explain that a little later.

Here's a list of what was needed.

  1. A screw driver, this is used to remove the small retaining clip at the top of the winch.
  2. Cleaner, I used acetone. I am not sure that's the best thing to use, but it seemed to do a pretty good job.
  3. A small wire brush, used to clean the parts of built up gunk and greese.
  4. Pliers, used to pull out the pawls that make up the ratched assembly
  5. A razor blade (not pictured) used to remove the retaining clip, and may help removing pawls.
  6. Springs, these are the only part that likely need to be replaced on a normal basis. The pawls can be replaced if damaged, but it not super common.
  7. Winch Greece, Use to lightly coat touching surfaces to ensure frictionless action.
  8. Lubricating oil, used to oil the pawls. I used some toy train oil, it should work good enough.

  1. Remove the retaining clip.

The first step to disassembling the winch is to remove the small retainer clip at the top.  Find the notched portion of the retaining clip. This is the point to remove the clip.

To do this, place a finger on the back of the clip to keep it from turning and to allow the tension to be focused. Take a screwdriver and place is just behind the notch.

Gently press to the side and up to slide the edge over the top of the piece above it. Keep working it around with your finger till it comes free, it's a bit springy, so try not to let is go over the side of the boat. Also careful the Lewmar logo top cap is only being held on by the retaining clip.

2. Slide off the outside of the winch.

The top of the winch should simply slide off, if there is a ton of build up this may take a bit of work, but mine came off really easily. This step is where access to the four bolts for the winch are exposed for removal of the winch.

The top ring of the winch can also be removed at this point, this will expose the pawls beneath for working on, it should just lift off easily.

3. Remove the center stem.

There is a white rectangle (Key) on the center of the winch stem. This is actually a retainer piece (wedge?) the fit is really right, and I needed to slide a razor blade into the crack and slightly pry it back.

This will allow the spindle and washer to come free.

4. Remove Pawls and springs.

The pawls are held in by the springs, and likely some grime, one of the four of mine came out with no effort at all, and the spring was in terrible shape.

The springs of the pawl sit one side against the pawn, and the other in a small grove on the winch drum. It only sticks out the tiniest bit, to get ahold of it, I slide my razor blade behind the spring and then  griped it with pliers and pulled it up and out.

The spring will come out, and likely go flying into oblivion.

Repeat this to remove the other three pawls.

5. Clean everything.

My parts are fairly grimy, and caked in old grease.

I started with the pawls, dipping my brush in acetone, and then wiping them clean with a show towel and then setting them aside to dry in a small dish. They came clean fairly easy, but I did need to use my razor blade to scrape some really stuck on spots.

I used this same method for the washer and the top cover to get them clean.

Next use the brush to scrub the center spindle. This took a while, as the grease here was fairly built up and dirty from years of not being cleaned. I needed to gently use the razor blade here to get some of the dirt to break free, but needed to be careful not to scrape the metal.

The winch drum interior needs to be scrubbed clean of any build up, taking special care to clean the several grooves inside the will rest on the interior piece of the winch. The pawl pockets need to be cleaned out fairly well so that the pawls will be able to move easily when reinserted.

The next piece is where most of of the friction in the winch happens, this also means that its greased and picks up dirt easily. Once again a wire brush and some cleaner will let you get through all of that and wind up with a fairly clean part.

6. Clean up your workspace.

At this point there is probably a lot of dirt and grit laying around the workspace. Once the next steps start, we don't want the dirt to be reintroduced to the clean parts.

7. Lubrication and reassembly.

I use Harken Winch Grease  and a small soft brush to brush my grease onto the surface.

Working around in a circle, I start with the center drum and brush a light coat of grease onto the smooth surfaces. The grease should not be added to the teeth on the post.

Next the interior of the center stem needs to be lightly coated.

Lightly coat the washer and put these parts back together so that no dirt gets reintroduced into these parts.

Reinsert the white key back into the center stem  and ensure that it sits firmly holding the spindle in place.

8. Reinstall the pawls

Hold the spring into the grove one pawl, then gently squeeze them and slide them into place on the drum.

9. Lubricate the pawls

Use a few drops of lubricating oil on the pawls to ensure they they can move smoothly. I used a small dropper of model train oil, which should work just fine.

10. Lubricate the drum & stem

Using the soft brush and the winch grease lightly coat the stem, and the interior of the drum.

11. Put it all back together

With a gentle twist reinsert the drum back over the stem. This twist will compress the lower pawls and everything slide down on the stem. This may take a few tries, my first time the top pawls popped loose.

Place the Lewmar logo cover piece back onto the top of the winch and wrap the retaining ring back around the top of the winch.

That should be it, give it some spins and test everything out. If there are issue, double check that the pawls didn't slip out when reinstalling everything.