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Pawl Oil

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by jviss, Jul 11, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,118 posts, 411 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    This is a sequel to the "Winch Grease" thread.

    Harken Pawl Oil is list priced at $12.20 for a 50ml bottle (1.7 oz.).

    In the past I've use Rem Oil, which I think is a high quality gun oil, and is available in a small dropper bottle as well as aerosol cans. A 1 oz. bottle is $3, 10 oz. is $8. And, I use it for other stuff.

    Anything special about Harken oil and winch pawls I should know?

    @thinwater , take it away! :)
     


  2. agprice22

    agprice22

    Joined Aug 3, 2012
    2,178 posts, 435 likes
    Performance Cruising Telstar 28
    US Watkins Glen
    Haha! OMG!
     


  3. BigEasy

    BigEasy

    Joined Jun 21, 2004
    1,000 posts, 232 likes
    Beneteau 343
    US Slidell, LA
    Practical Sailor recommended Finish Line Wet Bicycle Chain lube in a recent publication.
    Haven't used it so I don't have first hand knowledge about it.
     


  4. Calif. Ted

    Calif. Ted

    Joined Jun 8, 2004
    2,160 posts, 158 likes
    Catalina 320
    US Dana Point
    I guess I couldn't possibly know because I've never used "pawl" oil, gun oil, sewing machine oil, even 3 in 1 in a pinch. I do have a tube of genuine winch grease however.
     


  5. rgranger

    rgranger

    Joined Jan 19, 2010
    5,519 posts, 1,218 likes
    Hunter 26
    US Smith Mountain Lake
    I saw the title of this post and started to chuckle immediately :laugh:
     


  6. Davidasailor26

    Davidasailor26

    Joined May 17, 2004
    1,306 posts, 255 likes
    Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE
    US Havre de Grace
    For the pawls? Oh no, not this conversation again. :doh:
     


  7. markwbird

    markwbird

    Joined Nov 26, 2012
    902 posts, 185 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Berkeley
    Good God, Man! Just buy the pawl oil. It's $12.20.
     


    Gunni likes this.
  8. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,762 posts, 854 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Every winch manufacturer specifically cautions that one should NOT use any sort of grease on the pawls. Grease the bearings and gears, but DO NOT use grease on the pawls!
     


  9. Meriachee

    Meriachee

    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    2,739 posts, 768 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    All done. Go home now.
    Refinery.jpg
     


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  10. JimInPB

    JimInPB

    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,287 posts, 374 likes
    Hunter 212 & 170
    us West Palm Beach
  11. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,486 posts, 1,226 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    I've got about $12,000 worth of winches on the boat, the idea that I would second guess the manufacturer's recommended lubricants to maintain those winches and save a few dollars is ludicrous. I'm equally confused as to why Practical-Sailor decided they needed to find alternatives to the recommended lubricants. Do I find myself in Terra del Fuego with an urgent need to lube my winches and without the recommended lubricants? I could circumnavigate for 10 years and not exhaust my Lewmar winch lube kit! There are many systems on a sailboat which are subjective to your use (sails, running rigging, ground tackle), but winch maintenance and lubricants are not one of them.
     


    dziedzicmj and capta like this.
  12. rgranger

    rgranger

    Joined Jan 19, 2010
    5,519 posts, 1,218 likes
    Hunter 26
    US Smith Mountain Lake


  13. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,118 posts, 411 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    I hear what you're saying, @Gunni , but how many light machine oils and marine greases do you want to carry? And, yes, price matters to me! (Sometimes as a matter of principle.)
     


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  14. thinwater

    thinwater

    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    2,107 posts, 444 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    After further testing, that recommendation was withdrawn. There may be compatibility issues with bronze at high temperatures. Probably irrelevant, and not as bad as certain "winch" products, but just to be safe it was withdrawn. There are better products.

    Lwemar winch oil is good. I like Penzoil HP gear oil because it lasts much longer than pawl oil and protects better against corrosion.

    ---

    Why test lubes? First, not all of the winch lubes are equal. For example, some protect much better against corrosion than others. There are also excellent industrial products that are better yet. Industry has some tough applications.

    Second, there is something called progress. Lube technology has come far over the last century, and yet we're still hung on annual maintenance. Do you still change the oil in your car every 2000 miles? Probably 3-5 times that. Things change.

    Third, winch manufacturers don't make lubes. There may be better stuff out there. This is NOT about saving money on grease. Either way it's cheap, we can agree on that.

    Finally, not all of the manufacturers agree. In this case, we have major winch manufactures that like oil on pawls and those that like grease. The grease they spec on gears is also different, not because the gears or designs are different, but more likely because they bought into a different chemistry. Someone is right, and someone is probably wrong. Do you know which? I come from the automotive chemicals business, and I know they don't always make the best choices. Often purchasing and profit are big factors. Sometimes it is a single person that "likes" a given product. Who knows why. Lubes change. Engine coolant change. You must remember the disaster Dexcool was in the beginning; it was reformulated into what is an excellent product today (but the name did not change), but it caused considerable trouble for folks that followed factory recommendations.

    Just sayin', it's not simple.
     


    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    dziedzicmj and jviss like this.
  15. thinwater

    thinwater

    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    2,107 posts, 444 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    This is not acurate. Read the Antal and Maxwell service manuals. They recommend a very thin coating of grease.

    From the Antal manual:
    LUBRICATION (Fig. 10)
    When greasing a winch, apply using a brush on all moving parts including pawls, gears, spindles, shaft bearing washers, etc. Regular cleaning of the winch will improve it's performance and longevity. For winch and gear lubrication, use Type 400 (green) with Teflon.


    I'm not sayin' you should use a lot of grease. That could be bad. But in this case, "everybody" is Harken and Lewmar.
     


    jviss likes this.
  16. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,762 posts, 854 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    You are correct, I wasn't clear on that. I've never used an Antal or Maxwell and didn't know they even made winches until you posted it. I was indeed referring to Lewmar, Harken, and Barlow, but couldn't imagine why any other winch manufacturer would recommend grease if these 3 were so emphatically against it. Live and learn.
     


  17. thinwater

    thinwater

    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    2,107 posts, 444 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    I think there are several key factors with using grease on pawls:
    • The grease needs to be applied thinly. Antal and Maxwell are quite specific about this. I can imagine Lewmar and Harken have had problems when grease was over applied and then left for many years. Specing oil is safer for them.
    • The grease itself should be somewhat lighter. For example, Antal grease is the thinnest winch grease, making it the best for pawls, but probably the worst for gears. Some of the thicker greases, on the other hand, can cause hang-up at subzero temperatures, even when new if over applied. After 5-10 years there would be a risk at warmer temperatures.
    • It must be a good quality synthetic grease. Conventional greases oxidize more in time and can potentially become stick if ignored for many years.
    So it is safer for the manufacture to spec oil. Less chance of DIY screw up. I've used grease many times, but only a very thin film.

    The scary thing about pawl oils in general is that they slowly evaporate at higher temperatures (a drum in the sun in hot) and are generally gone in 1-2 years. OK if you never miss a service, but something that volatile strikes me as silly. It's not a sewing machine.
     


  18. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,118 posts, 411 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    On some, perhaps all winches, if you "gob up" the pawls with grease, when that grease picks up dirt, or perhaps even moisture, if can prevent them from working properly, and can get a runaway, backwinding winch. If there's a winch handle in it, you could get seriously injured or killed.

    Usually, you only need a very thin film of lubricant. You need something that will hang on, and not run off or wash off.

    Bronze is good for pawls and related components because it is naturally self-lubricating, and can be made so it absorbs oil.

    I appreciate @thinwater commenting on this, as he's clearly an expert. He should have an expert forum here, for lubricants!

    I will continue to use Rem Oil and "Marine Grease" for this stuff, until I learn more.
     


  19. jviss

    jviss

    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    3,118 posts, 411 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    How about using the "way oil" that I use on the ways of my lathe? It's kinda sticky, so it doesn't run off or out of the ways.
     


  20. JimInPB

    JimInPB

    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,287 posts, 374 likes
    Hunter 212 & 170
    us West Palm Beach
    If that is similar to the Vactra way lube that I use on my lathes, it starts out like maple syrup then gets thicker as the ambient temperature gets colder. I would not use something that thick on a pawl unless I was only going to be in a very warm environment at all times and my springs were known to be in good condition.
     



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