Centreboard Winch Maintenance

For quite a few years now, I have worried about my failure to inspect the means by which the webbing strap from Romilly’s centreboard winch is connected to the centreboard. As this is Speedwell’s twelfth season, I think it’s time I did something about it. Unfortunately I do not have access either to a boat hoist or to a slipway with a grid that would enable me to lower the plate and inspect it. I could have the boat craned out of the water, but would then have to build some kind of structure to support it while I worked safely underneath it.

I have also noticed this season that there are some signs of wear in the centreboard winch, and that makes me feel it will soon be time to remove it and inspect it, when the boat is laid up on the trailer. Can anyone offer any advice on removal of the winch, and does anyone know if its removal enables the webbing strap connection to the centreboard to be accessed through the opening left after removal of the winch?

I dread undoing the wrong screws or Allan keys and hearing the metallic clinking of little bits and pieces falling down the inside of the centreboard case!

Any guidance would be welcome.


    1. Phil Holden says:

      I’m attaching part of the drawings from the SVP version the arrangement is very similar to drawings I have of our boat but it is a bit clearer on this and I don’t have to scan the image. I’ve added a red line to show that on our boats there is a higher “shoulder” and the fitting passes through a hole at the top aft end of the centreboard (red ring).

      I can’t be sure but I suspect that if you had the boat on the trailer and removed the winch and inspection window that it would be possible to access the fitting at the aft end of the winch tape without dropping the centreboard out of the boat. It might require the modification of a tool to open the fitting. You could then replace the fitting and the tape, clean up the winch and refit it all in the comfort of your cockpit on dry land.

      I know that you removed the pivot pin in order to fit spacer washers and therefore you could do this again to inspect the pivot pin and bushes for wear.

      I’m sure that it will not be as easy as I’m suggesting but do feel that it is worth a try this way before going to any more extreme or expensive alternatives.

    1. Nigel Irens says:

      “I’m afraid I did not follow the various evolutions of the centreboard lifting mechanisms but hope the following observations might help.

      Firstly, I support Phil Holden’s comment when he suggests that it was intended that removal of the lifting gearbox from the case is the way to access the top of the board and webbing. The gearbox itself can then be taken away for servicing and an adequate inspection of the webbing and its attachment to the centreboard should be possible.

      I doubt if access is good enough, though, to do any remedial work on those components, so there may well be a need to remove the CB from its case. We used to do this by setting up the boat on blocks (placed ahead and behind the CB aperture in the keel), and manoeuvring it with a pair of crocodile jacks. Obviously there is a moment when the board leaves the hull and wants to fall on its side, but it does only weigh 90 kgs, so it can be man-handled with a bit of care!

      Again, I’m not sure how the attachment of the webbing might have evolved on later boats, but on the early ones we clamped it down with a rectangular stainless plate, secured with four machine screws tapped into the board itself. This is the area which may well need to be revised as the stainless fastenings will not be happy forever under water.” Hope this helps..



    1. Kenneth Ryland says:

      We supplied the origianl Crane Davit Winches, which are still available, although in updated version. Spares for the originals are limited as they are not always compatible with the current model. In removing the winch for service only release the outer ring of allen bolts. (first ensure there is no load on the winch) For any further assistance, please do not hesitate in contacting us.

      Kenneth Ryland

    1. Hugh Proudman says:

      Does anyone have any experience of doing maintenance work on the centre-plate of Dutch-built Romillys?

      I bought Serina (RY 3) from Douglas Ritherdon in 2012 and she has a stainless steel bolt / bottlescrew for raising and lowering the centre-plate. The bottlescrew emerges from the centre-plate casing via a fibreglass “stump” in the cabin. The bottlescrew ends in a socket that accepts a winch-handle. The fibreglass stump is protected from the bottlescrew by a thick polythene washer. The plate is raised and lowered by leaning into the cabin and winding away at the winch handle.

      The reason for this question about maintenance is that Serina’s fibreglass stump is becoming worn and looks as if it might split.

      I’ve booked Serina into Quayside Marine in Lymington in January and Simon Beaven and I are planning to dismantle the centre-plate casing to work out what we can do to strengthen the stump – but I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience in this area.

      I’ll update this post with some photos in the next few days – in case my attempts at explaining the task have not been clear.

      My thought at this stage is to get a stainless steel cap made, that would sit over the stump and protect the fibreglass. The cap would have a hole in it – that the bottlescrew would pass through. The polythene washer would then rest on the cap, and the bottlescrew would rest on the washer.

      I’ll update this post with some photos in the next few days – in case my attempts at explaining the task have not been clear.

      Thanks, Hugh

    1. Ben Fuller says:

      I had the board out on RAMONA, No. 16 this past spring. It took real work to tap out the closely fitting pin shortening an iron pipe by about 2 inches. The board went to sand blasting then primer then epoxy filler, then a layer of glass. Up to racing standard. After cleaning up the pin it tapped fairly easily with plenty of grease. The tolerances are quite small. I took the occasion to clean and paint the inside of the trunk. For the winch, the strap needed real soaking to get the salt out. There appears to be some aluminum corrosion around the axle not all of which I could remove. At some point a replacement will likely be needed. All in all not an easy job. I had the boat on stands rather than on the trailer to do this as you need 50 cm or so of clearance. All in all a week of work or so. An engine hoist in the garage made handling the board much easier. I had to work out a lifting spar on my pickup truck roof rack to get the board into the bed.