Skip to content
Home \ Sailing \ Technical \ How to Service a Lewmar Winch

How to Service a Lewmar Winch

Before the start of each sailing season we like to give our winches a nice service to ensure they are running smoothly, after all they endure some heavy loads, and are expensive to replace, so it pays to look after them! Here’s our step by step guide to how we service our self-tailing Lewmar winches.

Before we start we get together all the equipment we will need:

It is also possible to purchase a Lewmar winch servicing / maintenance kit which usually consists of grease, oil, springs and brush. These are available from most major chandleries.

The winch we are dealing with here is a Lewmar size 40 winch and it is designed to be taken apart without the requirement for any tools. Allow about an hour to an hour and a half for each winch. It’s also worth surrounding the winch with old towels or blankets to prevent parts from ‘bouncing’ away!

Unscrew the cap, or collar, which you should be able to do just by hand. If it is a little stiff simply place a block of wood in one of the dimples and give it a sharp tap. This should then loosen it enough to enable you to unscrew it by hand. There is an O ring underneath the cap which you should check and replace if needed. Lift off the feeder arm.

Remove the collets ( the spindle/shaft retaining keys) and pull out at the sides.

Remove the shaft by placing a finger into the centre and easing out. It may need a slight twist to assist.

Lift off the drum – the main ‘body’ of the winch.

Lift off the roller bearings. If you can’t see them check inside the drum, sometimes the roller bearings get wedged inside it!

Remove the plastic spacer O ring.

Lift out the gear retaining pins and gently slide out gears.

Split the gears apart, remove the pawls, springs and inner sleeves. Watch out – the springs can easily ‘spring off’ making them the easiest part to lose😬 Check the integrity of the pawls and springs, if there are any signs of wear or they are broken then they will need replacing.

You’ve now successfully disassembled the winch and should hopefully have a table of parts that looks something like this!:

Place all the parts in a bucket with white spirits. Gently clean all the parts, use the toothbrush to scrub and the pick to loosen any small hard bits. Once clean, allow to dry.

Give the winch base a good clean, also with white spirit.

Very, very lightly grease all surfaces EXCEPT the pawls. You don’t need a lot!

Use the 3 in 1 oil on the pawls and springs and exercise the oil into the springs – careful as the springs can easily bounce out!

Reassemble the gears.

Drop the gear retaining pins back into position and gently grease the surface areas.

Replace the O ring spacer and roller bearings, gently grease these and the inside of the drum.

Replace the drum, lightly grease the self tailing arm and cap and refit. Give it a nice rub down with the microfibre cloth.

Test the winch and it should now ratchet much cleaner. If all is well then you’re good to go…well once you’ve done all the others! 😄

As always this is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, just some (hopefully helpful) guidance from us as to how we service our winches. 🙏🏻

* As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on this link and purchase the item we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. Information provided is deemed accurate at the time of posting, however this cannot be guaranteed. Text, including views, thoughts and opinions, along with photographs are our own (unless stated otherwise). Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the post for any purpose. Using or acting upon any content shared on this website is entirely at your own risk and you free us of any responsibility for any loss or damages as a result of taking action from this content.