Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "ABI Bronze Manual Windlass"
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Thread: "ABI Bronze Manual Windlass"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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ABI Bronze Manual Windlass

Wendy Smith and Paul Bowling

Kia Ora,
We were wondering if any one know's how to get the main shaft out of an ABI Bronze manual windlass, for servicing and re-greasing?


Bud Taplin

I have an exploded view of all of the parts for the ABI single speed windlass if that would do you any good. I do not have the same thing for the two speed ABI windlass though.

Wendy Smith and Paul Bowling

Thanks Bud, we have the exploded view as well, but it does not explain how to get the main shaft out.

Cheers Paul

Aaron Norlund


Check out this thread from the Sam L. Morse forum. Someone else was having this issue.


I have one on the way which will need servicing, so I'll dink with it and report back if I can figure out how to get the shaft out.


Aaron Norlund


I got my windlass and have taken it apart. I'm going to write a little tutorial that'll include pictures on how to tear down the ABI windlass. Since you're doing it now or soon, here is what I learned.

There are three keys on the main stainless shaft - these are in three separate, fitted keyways. The gypsy and wildcat are "slid" onto the shaft and kept from spinning by the keys, and kept horizontally on the shaft by the small allen set screw. That is in a perfect world - in reality, they are stuck to the shaft like white on rice due to age and corrosion. Next time I would use a pulley puller to remove the gypsy drum. This time around I used a wedge and torch.

Once one side, either the gypsy or wildcat shaft, is off, you can take that side's keyway out. Once one side of the shaft is bare, you should be able to hammer the shaft out. Again, this is optimal as the innards are seized in place; I heated the innards, but it was still a lot of hammering! There are bronze bushings between the main housing and shaft that might move, so don't get worried if you see them sliding out of place.

Things to help; start spraying everything with PB Blaster or another catalyst. WD-40 won't cut it. Also, do not hammer directly on the end of shafts - use a bolt or something smaller than the end of the shaft so as to prevent its mushrooming. Also, for the lower gears, note that there are allen set screws holding them in place that can be accessed from the bottom of the body.

Time and patients. It took me about four hours to get it apart. Now I'm going to have it walnut-shell blasted to remove the oxidation (I tried naval jelly and muriatic, but there is still a lot). Then I'll buff with tripoli and polish with red and white rouge.

I'll do an article for Windblown or a how-to to be added to the member's area when I'm done.

Tom Crank

Aaron, I am in the process of trying to disassemble an RC Plath manual windlass which as I understand it ABI cloned. With PB Blaster, heat and wedges I was able to remove the clutch head but similar efforts on the rope capstan are bending the flanged lip of the capstan. Were you able to remove your capstan? As you hammered the shaft through the windlass body did the key between the shaft and the direct drive gear press out the bearing as you pushed out the shaft or is there a way to remove the key before it contacts the bearing.

At this point my shaft is budging so it's getting another round of PB.

Bud Taplin

I believe that RC Plath is still in business in Oregon. Why not contact them?

Aaron Norlund

Tom and Wendy,

I was able to get the ABI apart although NOT easily. I wound up having to heat the gears with a torch to encourage expansions while tapping on the stainless shafts. I have an RC Plath in my garage right now and it is nearly identical. You'll probably have success doing the same thing - just heat for a minute and start tapping!

Good luck!
Aaron N.

Tom Crank

I just spoke with Ron Sears the owner of RC Plath. He was very helpful. He thinks the rope capstan may be stuck on the shaft due to a small burr caused by the installation of the set screw. He did confirm that the shaft will only exit in the direction of the drive gear and that the key between the shaft and the gear will push out the bearing as the shaft exits the housing.

He also indicated that they are downsizing their metals business and are going to focus only on windlass manufacturing due to the void created by ABI's exit. He has a full parts inventory and it is probable but not confirmed that the parts from the manual Plath windlass will work with the ABI windlass as well.

I have to check on shipping cost but I am leaning towards sending them my windlass for service.

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