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H 28.5 Cabin top winches

Jul 1, 2019
Hunter 28.5 Hope's Anchor San Francisco
Anyone have any info on the original manufacturer and size of the cabin winch for the main and head halyards of the 1986 vintage 285? I'm trying to avoid drilling a new set of holes if possible but need to replace the old with new. It would be great to get the same bolt pattern regardless of size but I need info off the original first. I appreciate your help and thank you for your time.
Nov 26, 2012
Hunter 34 Berkeley
Drill the holes. The original maxwell winches were crap. Besides they are long out of business. Put some Lewmars on there
Jul 1, 2019
Hunter 28.5 Hope's Anchor San Francisco
Thanks for your input markwbird! I agree completely, the originals are crap and thank for letting me know the manufacturer, do you happen to have the size?
Regardless, I think I'll take your advice and go with the Lewmar. Great choice!
I won't have to drill new holes though because you inspired me to come up with the solution! I'll take the old mounting plates, drill them and tap them for the new winch then mount the plate back on the deck using the existing holes. With the plate firmly attached to the cabin top I will screw the new winch on top using the new offset drilled and tapped holes. Naturally I'll have to shorten the bolts so they don't hit the deck then loctite them in so they don't back off. Or I can countersink them from the bottom side and invert them attaching them with nuts from the top side of the new winch base plate! Either way..... Viola, there you have it, the best of both worlds! New winches... No new holes through the cabin!!
Thanks for being my inspiration, I couldn't have done it without you and I appreciate your help!


Jun 1, 2004
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Before you go through all this complicated mounting process... Note that this particular 1985 28.5 has what appears to be Harken self tailers..... could be an upgrade... but you might take a little more time and go to the major winch manufacturers.... Lewmar, Harken, Anderson, etc,,, and down load the mounting instructions for the winch size you're considering... then make a template you can match up with the existing hole pattern to see what you have........ shouldn't take that long if you know how to use google.
BTW every winch manufacturer will have a size chart posted prominently to help with your choice.

Or..... just fill the old ones with epoxy and drill new ones exactly in the location you want. I will not affect the value of your boat.... especially since you're upgrading winches.
Jun 1, 2016
Hunter 28.5 Lake City, MN
I’ve got an ‘88 H-28.5 and the boat has Barlow winches, which are original as far as I can tell. There are no extra hole from any changes.

Jul 1, 2019
Hunter 28.5 Hope's Anchor San Francisco
Hey Joe thanks for all the great info. You're right, those cockpit winches do look like Harkin and are definitely self tailers just like my cockpit winches, luckily those are in great shape on my boat and I'm actually looking for the smaller winches sitting on the top of the cabin. I turned to this forum because I have used Google search looking for the mfg and model but came up with nothing. At his point since no one has any solid leads I can use as a cross reference to find a suitable replacement, I'm taking the advice of markwbird and going with Lewmar. As mentioned, I will use the old mounting base as my bolt pattern so no new holes will have to be drilled.
I do welding, machining and fabrication for a living so this sort of thing for me is actually easier and faster than doing a simple internet search. It's also more fun so definitely my preference. Most people can't fathom taking on such a task and are probably overwhelmed just thinking about doing something like this but I would rather do this and be done with the job before the epoxy dried on the alternate method. For me, it's second nature and very rewarding.
Thanks again for the great suggestions.
Dec 1, 1999
Hunter 28.5 Chesapeake Bay
When I bought my 1986 H28.5 in 2004, it had OEM Maxwell 2 speed self tailing sheet winches
and one speed main and Genoa halyard winches. I don’t think they were ever serviced. They hardly turned. With the online parts diagram in hand, I thoroughly cleaned and greased them. Not difficult. With annual cleaning, they have worked perfectly ever since. I also found that an old Lewmar service kit I had from a previous boat had springs and pawls that fit nicely. I seem to be alone in liking these winches.
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Jul 1, 2019
Hunter 28.5 Hope's Anchor San Francisco
Warren, thanks for the info and the great video. The only reason I am replacing this winch is because the top cap, part #D427 popped off due to an override. It was lost and although the winch still operates fine, it's missing the cap and I can't find a replacement. I was hoping there was someone out there that replaced their winch and saved the old. Please let me know of anyone you may be aware of that has or is thinking of replacing theirs, I would love to talk to them.
Jul 1, 2019
Hunter 28.5 Hope's Anchor San Francisco
Thank you JMCE1587. I appreciate you sending this link, it is exactly what I was hoping to find on this forum.
With this pdf and the info sent earlier by Warren Milberg I was able to identify the OEM winch as the Maxwell 17A.
I paid a visit to the Blue Pelican in Alameda and was shocked and amazed to find a Maxwell 21 sitting on the shelf. This is the 2 speed version of my 17A winch. I bought it for $100 installed it and I'm very happy with being able to keep it original plus keep from modifying either the winch or cabin top to make anything else fit. Thank you again, I dearly appreciate your help.


Mar 20, 2011
Hunter 31_83-87 Kemah
Glad u were able to keep it simple and able to buy resale boat parts to keep cost down.