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Cleaning and Servicing my
Tanzer 22 Winches

I had been procrastinating looking at the winches and servicing them but I've finally decided to do this. I am waiting for a new lower stay and can't sail.

gibb winchgibb winch

There are 2 kinds of winches on my boat. On the mast and on both side of cabin hatch are lesser quality Gibb winches.

On both sides of the cockpit there are larger Barlow winches. These are quite fine.

Since they all work I'm not planning to replace them.

Gibb Winch

Opening the Winches for service is simple. Unscrew the screw inside the cavity where the winch wrench/handle goes in and gently lift the winch up.

On each of my 3 Gibb winches the screws were different. I guess previous owners had replaced them for various reasons. One used a hex screw, one used a phillips screw and the mast winch used a slot screw!! No big deal I guess.

Go easy because if any of the little bits come undone you will have trouble finding parts. The Gibb winch is simply a couple of pawls with tiny springs wrapped around them. These pawls engage in the slots of the main cover. There is a central post on which the cover fits. Harder to describe than to figure out.

So open it carefully by removing the screws and gently lifting the cover. Clean out any spiders, corrosion and any other junk in there. IF there is corrosion, gently sand with fine emery paper, 400-800 grit will do. Clean off any sanding residue, oil the inside and close up again.

The winches on my boat were screwed in the top bulkhead with 3 slot screws. I took the winches off and cleaned under before re-seating with 3M 4200. I polished everything up a bit and went on to the Barlow winches.

I was lucky, none of the parts on my winches needed fixing but if you need parts here is an article from the Tanzer 22 archives. Lower down there is an article on the winches. Unfortunately both Gibbs and Barlow are discontinued winches.

Barlow Winches

barlow opened

To service this winch get a clean cloth or paper, or a plastic bag, there are several parts and you don't want to lose them.

Unscrew the central screw and carefully remove the cover. You might have to gently wiggle the winch but it will lift off. Be careful not to drop any bits. Lift straight up and put on clean paper/plastic/cloth.

There are 2 2-part bearing cassettes. They sit on top of each other and hold the bearings in place.

There is a fiber washer that sits on the base top, remove it if it did not stick to the top and put it on your paper.

barlow opened, bearings

When I opened my winch the first time, one of the cassettes came out as well as the top part of the bottom one. The old grease had glued things up some. This is OK but be aware that the little cylindrical bearing can come off. If you are working on the water, plug the drains so nothing can escape if you drop something on the floor and don't work over the water.

It is possible to remove the winch by unscrewing the nut from inside the little side compartment. Using a ratchet socket wrench works. I just checked that the winch was solidly in place but did not re seat. There was goo squeezing out and it looked in good condition.

If your bearings stayed on the base, squeeze in the little pawls and remove the 2 bearing cassettes and put on your paper, carefully.

barlow opened

Half way through cleaning the base. I had lots of spider webs and bug parts in the base but otherwise no nasty surprises. There was still residual grease but it was quite gummy. I wiped everything off but there was no need to use the sandpaper.

The little pawls are clearly visible. These get oiled. I also greased the whole base to prevent corrosion. I had some soft grease.


At this point I checked the bearing and cleaned the old grease off. It was still in good shape and all I had to do was wipe the old grease with a paper towel. Everything looked really good so I did not take them apart to clean. I guess it there was corrosion or if there was dried up junk I would have soaked it in oil to clean with a toothbrush but that was not necessary.

I worked new clean grease into the bearings and put the 2 assembled bearing cassettes onto the spindle. I had to squeeze the little pawls inwards because they stick out.

The 2 parts of the cassette click together and allow the bearings to rotate but keep them in position.

Next step is cleaning the top parts

The top comes apart into several pieces. Gently turn the top up side down and the top bit will slide out, you might have to squeeze the little pawls. Be careful, when I did this, a tiny spring that keeps a set of pawls in position, jumped out. Lucky for me that I saw it!

top assembly of winch top assembly of winch

Keep track of the little top insert that acts as a bearing for the top screw. I am showing it on the right but that is not how it goes in. It goes in by the top. I just put it there as I was taking things apart and did not notice when I took the photo. It fits through the top, not the bottom.

Clean the parts, chase out the spiders and grease/oil the moving parts and the casings. No particular difficulties. I had to re position the little spring that had jumped out but otherwise no surprises.

Coat everything with oil/grease and put the inside/top assembly back into the winch top. You have to push while twisting some to compress the little pawls so the top will go in. I had to wipe my hands a few times but it went together quite well.

Getting the top assembly onto the bottom is a bit tricky because the bottom pawls get in the way. This is how I did it.

Slide the bearing cassettes up the spindle about a quarter inch over the pawls to keep them compressed. You will have to squeeze them shut to do this. Place a screwdriver under the bottom cassette so that your hands are free and the cassettes don't slide back down.

Gently slide the top assembly over the spindle and tightly against the cassettes which are held in a raised position by the screwdriver, and keep the pawls compressed. Slowly remove the screwdriver while pushing on the top and the whole top will slide down the spindle and fall into place. As the bearings slide down the pawls are released and catch properly. Replace the top screw and clean up the winch. Mine turned silently and smoothly. Before it made a loud click and was harder to push.

Go have a beer.

email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine