Boat Work (Cowls/Windlass)

15 November 2019 – Boat Work (Cowls and Windlass)

As we prepare for our upcoming passage West through the Red Sea, there is, as always, a long list of things to do, some maintenance and some upgrades.

Our 6 Perko dorade box vents were looking somewhat tarnished, after years of polishing. The metal is chrome plated bronze, and painted white inside. If you can find them, these cowl vents retail for about $ 450 CDN, so having them re-chromed while in India looked like an attractive alternative. On Google, I found a shop nearby, so I went out to check them out. Prasis Electro-plating offered to re-chrome these cowls at 800 rupees apiece. That works out to less than $ 16 CDN per cowl. So, I left them with the shop when Diane and I went on our Northern India tour. When we came back, I picked them up and am very pleased with the result. They had to remove and re-replate the existing chrome plating, and I had to repaint the inside with white spray paint, easy enough.

Next on the list was to convert our existing IDEAL anchor windlass (circa 1995) from foot button operation – to include a wireless remote. Why bother, at this stage? Because we are headed to the Mediterranean Sea, where it is common practice in Greece, Turkey and other countries to drop anchor and reverse back to a wharf or town concrete pier. With just Diane and I on the boat, having a wireless remote means that I can drop the anchor from the bow, and then walk back to the stern while continuing to release chain and our stern approaches the wharf. Then, I can handle the stern lines and then reverse the windlass operation and tighten up on the chain. In theory it all sounds easy. Our windlass is an IDEAL 12V V4C, reversing model. It has worked fine for years. This was the existing wiring diagram, for the windlass as it was installed by me years ago.

My first solution was to try a “made in China” solution with a remote key fob and transceiver commonly used for 4X4 winches. This only cost me $ 50 CDN. I didn’t even need the new solenoid because I was planning to use the existing solenoid.

After installation, I found that the transceiver didn’t put out enough current to activate the existing solenoid in either forward or reverse. The key fob and transceiver worked well and were easy to install, but it just didn’t trigger the solenoid. Then, I tried to wire in the additional solenoid “in parallel” with the existing solenoid and that sort of worked, but tripped the safety breaker and it interfered with the deck switch operation. I abandoned this solution because although it was cheap, it didn’t work – or at least not like I wanted it to.

For the second and final attempt, I decided to buy the IDEAL factory remote kit, IDEAL HHWR-100 – sold by Schaefer Marine (which purchased IDEAL a few years ago). I decide to buy the kit for $ 305 USD and a replacement circuit breaker panel for another $ 164 USD. By the time you add in UPS shipping and 48% Indian Duty charges – this factory solution ended up costing me $ 901 USD, or about $ 1200 CDN — so you can see my interest in getting solution 1 up and running!

This is the wiring diagram for the new remote, as provided by IDEAL and fitted together with the existing solenoid and foot switches.

This is the new circuit breaker panel, as I installed with a little amber coloured LED to indicate when its on. This is a big improvement over the last breaker panel that had an incandescent red light and a big clunky switch.

In theory, the remote kit looks like this, but the wires were not nearly this long, only protruding out of the box an inch or so. The antenna is inside the box, together with some other electronics.

After splicing on extensions to the 4 wires, I actually installed the box inside the boat, right next to the bow battery and the existing solenoid – so its in a cramped, but workable, dry space. I removed the water-tight door, and threw it away. After installation, I couldn’t open it anyway.

Inside the door, the box had a nice sticker for GEM Remotes in Naples FL, who apparently make this remote for IDEAL. It was also labelled GRDI-2-12VC IWC 1218B, further identifying the model.

After installation, I tested the remote operation by walking around to different areas on the boat and it works like a charm. I was afraid that since its a steel boat, the radio transmission might be impaired, but this was not the case. I checked the output of the transceiver (to trigger the solenoid) and it was about 0.7A, much higher than the Chinese model I first tried. I also verified that our existing deck switches still work fine – so the overall project is considered a success – and ready for operation.

4 thoughts on “Boat Work (Cowls/Windlass)”

  1. Nice work on that remote Wade.
    A pair of inexpensive low trigger current car horn relays would have triggered your solenoids too.
    But you now have a reliable system with a warranty.

    1. I never thought of that. You’re suggesting that my cheap Chinese setup with low current coming out of the transceiver would have been able to trigger a “low current relay” which would have in turn triggered the big solenoid. Yes, I can see that now, two more inexpensive relays. Good suggestion Ken!

  2. Hi Guys,
    This is Miki of catamaran Two Oceans. We met in the ABC and Colombia. I see you are planning to go to the Med in the near future. If you plan to stay in Israel for a while do contact us. All the best!

    1. Hi Miki – yes, we do remember you. We are planning to get to Herzliya Marina and stay October 2020 to April 2021. You must be familiar with that place. Can we get together there/then? I’ve sent you a separate email.

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