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Classic Winches Q&A

Harken winches are reliable, rugged and extremely efficient. They come in a wide variety of sizes and in manual, or with hydraulic and electric drives. Below are answers to questions that are often asked about our Classic winches. Note: Harken has replaced the Classic line with our Radial line, which offers the same great quality, but lighter in weight and easier to install and maintain.


How often should I service my winches? 
You should service your winches at least once during the preseason. However, if your boat lives in a salt water environment, where the seasons are longer, servicing your winches twice a season is best. If you race your boat hard, you may want to maintain your winches before every regatta. The more often you service your winches, the faster you become.

What service kits and spare parts are available?

 Part  Description
 BK4512  Winch service kit - 10 pawls, 20 springs
 BK4513  Winch grease - 100 ml tube
 BK4514  Winch service case -
 10 pawls, 20 springs, pawl oil, winch grease, handle repair kit, stickers
 BK4517  Lock-in handle repair kit -
 Lock-in knob, spring pin, lock-in spring, isolator, lock-in plate
 BK4518  48 - 980 Winch drum screw kit -
 8 screws 8 mm x 20 mm, 8 plastic washers
 BK4519  16 - 46 Winch drum screw kit -
 8 screws, 8 mm x 20 mm, 8 plastic washers
 BK4521  Pawl oil for pawls and springs

What kind of tools do I need?

You'll need a straight blade screwdriver to remove the drum. Some of the larger winches require a set of metric Allen wrenches (4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, and 8 mm). You'll also need a thin utility knife or small pocket knife to remove the pawls.

What materials do Harken winches come in?

Harken Classic winches are offered in all-chromed bronze, polished bronze, and stainless steel.

The Radial line is available in aluminum alloy, chrome with black or white accents, all chrome, or bronze.

Our racing line of winches features aluminum and carbon fiber construction.

Oil or Grease

Can I use McLube Sailkote to grease my winch?
McLube Sailkote is a dry lubricant used to make sails, hulls and rigging more efficient and longer lasting. But for winches, we recommend Harken Winch Grease, a special all-temperature grease that is resistant to salt and fresh water.

What parts of a winch get oiled and which get greased?
Clean the winch parts with a mild solvent and then lightly grease the gear teeth and roller bearings with Harken winch grease. But don't overdo it because too much grease can pick up dirt, sand, etc. and damage the gears.

The pawls (they make the clicking noises as the winch rotates) should be lubricated with Harken Pawl Oil (BK4521). Don't use grease because it may make the pawls stick so the winch backwinds.


How do I remove the drum? 
First remove the screw that sits in the bottom of the winch handle socket. Then lift the socket out along with the drum. It is important to remove the drum carefully because sometimes the roller bearing cage sticks in the drum and could drop in the water.

How do I adjust the stripper arm?
The stripper arm can be adjusted on winches from 16ST to 53.2ST, by removing the top screw and the winch handle socket from the winch. Lift the stripper arm, turn it to the position you want, and put the socket and screw back in place. For more information, read the appropriate service manual, or call the Harken Service Team at (262) 691-3320.

Will the self-tailing mechanism work with a variety of line sizes? 
Yes, the upper jaw of the self-tailing device is spring loaded to accommodate different line sizes. For example, the 40.2 self-tailing winch will handle 8 mm to 12 mm line.

Winch Handles

Will a Harken winch handle fit other manufacturers' winches?
Yes, if the winch isn't an old bronze Merriman style which required a unique side handle.

Should I use a 203 mm (8")  or 254 mm (10")  winch handle?
Published power ratios for most winches are based on a 254 mm (10") handle length because it is the most comfortable length for most sailors. The 203 mm (8") handles are faster because they swing through a smaller circle but, power is reduced by twenty percent. The 203 mm (8") handles are ideal for smaller boats and for light air where speed is needed and power is not.

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Harken Classic winches enhance the beauty of any yacht and are made of bronze, chromed bronze, anodized aluminum, and mirror-finished stainless steel.

Harken standard winches feature more bearings and wide-diameter center stems to decrease bearing loads for reduced friction. This combined with Italian styling and a durable, beautiful finish make them the first choice on yachts worldwide.

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