Anchor Windlass Maintenance (Lofrans Royal)

Ahora did not have a windlass when I bought her. This certainly was not a big problem in the Baltic sea, and the previous owner told me that he anchored maybe three times in the 28 years that he owned the boat. To me, it was clear from the beginning that I had to change this. It proofed already hard enough to pull up a 30-pound anchor plus chain in shallow water with no wind by hand.

So I started looking for a suitable windlass to bring in the 45-pound CQR-anchor in rough conditions. I chose to go for a manual windlass, as I do not like to be dependent on heavy battery equipment and also they are much cheaper and easier to install. I decided to go for the Lofrans Royal, which is pretty much the only manual model that is widely used and still in production.

It was quite easy to find a used one on eBay for 120€, which seemed to me like a fair price, considering they cost around 600€ new. The windlass was fully functional when I got it, although a bit harder to move than one would expect from a new product.

I decided to open the windlass before I install it for the following reasons:

  1. I am always curious how a machine works in the inside.
  2. I want to be able to fix it if it breaks.
  3. I want to make sure it is in good working condition so I can rely on it when needed.

This proved to be a good idea, as it turns out that the previous owner had completely filled the case of the windlass with oil. This is NOT how this model is supposed to be maintained. But let’s have a closer look on how to do it properly. Here is how to disassemble the windlass:

Tools needed were a 4-mm hex key, a 10- and an 18-mm wrench and circlip pliers, which I got at Amazon.


After everything was disassembled, it was now time to clean the parts from old grease and oil. I first used kitchen towels to wipe off the main mess and then cleaned everything with a toothbrush and a rag soaked in kerosene. Then I used special winch grease for all moving parts.

And here is the end-result. The windlass now turns with very little effort and should be almost as good as new:


Leave a Comment:

mel says 4. October 2018

Well done. I have the same windlass on my Island Packet 27 Auxiliary Cutter. When it worked, it was a back saver. However, over time, it has become more difficult to use. I think I will need to disassemble my windlass as you have done. I find it not very efficient that the windlass must be completely taken apart to facilitate greasing/lubrication.

ALSO the mechanical advantage is quite low, 440lbs or so. This makes it not very efficient while retrieving a chain rode and anchor in strong winds for a solo sailor. Also chain retrieval speed is quite slow, making anchor retrieval in crowded anchorage a bit anxious.

Still, it gets the job done.
Thanks for this blog topic. Well done!
Cheers Mel IP 27 80 currently in Mexico.

    Jan says 4. October 2018

    Thanks for the comment! I agree that there are probably better windlasses out there for larger boats. For my 45 pound CQR on my 32 foot boat, it works fine though. The only drawback is the slow speed.

Thomas Welsh says 28. March 2019

The problem with the winches is that the Nylon bushes swell and tighten on the gears and shafts journal’s working much like a brake becoming increasingly more difficult to operate through time. I have just stripped mine reamed out the bushes and reassembled, the winch came with the yacht which was made in 1988 so can’t complaign much, it the bushes tighten again I might make bronze ones or go electric. note Nylon bearings on rudders suffer the same problem.

giles says 25. June 2020

Thank you, this has been so helpful and gave me the courage to take mine apart.

rick wall says 18. July 2021

hi.ive bought the same windlass.the gypsy is on the wrong side to my hawse pipe,do you now if i can change it to the other side.

    Jan says 18. July 2021

    Hi Rick,

    not sure if this would work. Maybe check with the manufacturer if this is possible…


christopher r seitz says 31. July 2021

could I ask for the dimensions for the handle? My 28ft sailboat has the lofrans royal but not the handle/lever.

    Jan says 1. August 2021

    Sure! My handle is a pipe that is 60 cm long and has an outside diameter of about 2.1 cm and an inside diameter of about 1.8 cm.

Beth Browne says 12. November 2023

Thanks so much for this! I just got mine apart and it was very obvious that the previous owner used the wrong grease because she was literally gummed up solid. I was wondering what sort of grease was appropriate and was delighted to find the answer so easily in your post. Thank you!

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