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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Windlass Installation

For the last year I have been mulling over the idea of installing a windlass.   I have had my eyes on a Lewmar V2 5/6” G4 as the prices were reasonable ($1.5k) but recently I found the Maxwell RC-8-8 (from my understanding a much better windlass) online for an unbelievable price: $1,048 with free shipping from  This windlass normally goes for about $2k.  So I ordered it, and it shortly arrived in a factory sealed box from Maxwell.  But before ordering,  I called Maxwell support and asked them if there where any problems or plans to replace the RC windlass.  They said that the RC is one of their best devices with no plans to replace the line, but that they were aware of some retailers having aggressive pricing like Defender.

For additional equipment,  I went 150’ 5/16” G4 HT chain, 150’ 5/8” 8-plait nylon rope, Mantus SS swivel,  and 44lb Vulcan anchor.   Also I read good thing about using a 4WD winch controllers on a marine windlass, so I picked up both a wireless remote and wired remote( and socket) winch controllers from amazon. The wireless controller works great but does have a slight delay which the wired controller does not.

Maxwell RC8-8 windlass


RC8 8mm - 5/16"

Maximum Pull


Static Hold

2640 lbs

Chain Short Link


Rope Size
(3 strand or 8 plait)

9/16"- 5/8"

Chain Speed
(Normal working load)


Rope Speed
(Normal working load)


Power Supply (DC)

Motor Power

Net weight DC Low profile version



The plans was to install the windlass directly over the bulkhead separating the v-berth and the anchor locker so that the deck chain hole is over the anchor locker whereas the windlass drive hole was over the v-berth.  The advantage of doing it this way is that the windlass motor, drive unit, switching solenoid, and all electrical connections are protected from saltwater and weather.  It turns out that the space between the two holes is almost exactly the width of the bulkhead leaving little to no room for error.

The location of inside bulkhead was transferred to the deck using two strings.  Within the v-berth access, a string was stretched from the center of a bow cleat bolt to the center of the opposite bow cleat bolt, one string topside and the other inside (see picture below).  An identical string was stretched on the deck from the tops of the same two cleat bolts.  Measurements along the string and perpendicular to the string where easily transferred from inside to topside.  This allowed for a somewhat precise determination of the bulkhead location which was drawn in pencil onto deck.  The Maxwell mounting template was placed by aligning it fore & aft so that the bulkhead was aligned with the template gap between the two hole cutouts. The port & starboard location (i.e. direction along the string) was determined by aligning a straight rode from the left bow roller with the rode location as indicated on the mounting template.

A view from within the v-berth, a string was
stretched from the center of a bow cleat 
bolt to the center of the opposite bow cleat 
bolt.  Measurements along the string and 
perpendicular to the string can be easily 
transferred from inside to topside.
RC8-8 deck cutout & holes details. Note: the cutout marked
as "B" is not required unless one plans to connect a chain
link counter.

Final placement of the mounting template.  Also shown is the
topside alignment string and a tape with a center line indicating
the proper parallel rode direction coming from the left bow roller. 

Drilling holes in the Deck

Measure many times, and cut holes once became the crucial plans.

Chain hole was drilled with a slight
angle from aft to fore.  
Partial hole as seen from inside anchor
locker looking up.

Drilled hole into anchor locker
Preparing for cutting the windlass drive hole.
View of the roller furler from
v-berth up through the windlass
drive hole. 

Dry Fitting the Windlass

Deck placement of the windlass.
A view of the chain drop hole aligning
with the windlass during the dry fit.

Dry fit of windlass without drive unit. 
Dry fit of windlass with drive unit.  

The forward bolt hole interfered with the
anchor locker bulkhead. Part of the
bulkhead was carved out to provide room
for the mounting bolt, nut, and washer.
This areas was later sealed with epoxy.
Dry fit of windlass with drive unit.  
little bit (~3/16"x2"x2") of  the bulkhead was removed 
with a Dremel sanding drum out to provide
 clearance for drive unit. This areas was 
later sealed with epoxy.

Sealing the Deck Core

Removing/Reaming the balsa coring with a Dremel sanding drum.
Over sized bolt holes were first
wetted with epoxy, filled epoxy
thickened with colloidal silica,
and after curing, redrilled to
proper size.

Sealed coring with first an application of wetted epoxy before
filling reamed area with epoxy thickened with colloidal silica .
East System epoxy and colloidal silica
obtained from Noah's Marine.

Mounting the windlass

Deck masking for easy removal of excess

After masking the windlass outside and chain drop inside, lots
of sealant was applied for the deck mount.  An abundance of sealant
is needed to provide a watertight seal so that water does not enter
into the v-berth.   A paper towel & white tape was used to cover 
the Super-Lube greased drive shaft during installation so that no
grease contaminated the sealant surfaces.

Windlass motor and drive unit.
Install without the backing plate initially to set the sealant
and form a nice gasket seal. 

Installed with 3/4"epoxy sealed marine plywood backing plate.
The backing plate also provides mounting surface for the
solenoid switch junction box.

Electrical Wiring

I originally planned to use 0 AWG battery cable, but ordered 1 AWG.  To get a better than 0 AWG equivalent, I added 4 AWG in parallel for the long runs to the solenoid switch.

Windlass wiring schematic

The switching solenoid unit .
Working installation.

Finishing the Installation

Reinstalling the v-berth headliner.

V-berth with windlass cover box. Bottom panel has a vent
to promote airflow and easy inspection.
Feeding 150' of 5/16" G4 HT chain.   A future plan
includes mounting a stainless steel protective sheet
under the chain run of the anchor locker lid.

Several months after installing the windlass
and stainless steel plate was add to the anchor
locker lid at the location of greatest chain wear.

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