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How the System Works

How the System Works

A properly functioning system is critical to safe and convenient operation of your swing keel Catalina.

The primary components include: A keel winch to provide the mechanical advantage, a keel cable and keel eyebolt to connect the winch to the keel, and the keel turning ball and hose to route the cable through the hull to the keel cable.

A primary safety feature is a keel winch designed with an integral clutch. Unlike a typical trailer winch the clutch does not allow the winch to "free wheel" when cable is being released.

Brent Baker sailing Alizé out of Lawrenceville, NJ explains it well: The handle is mounted on a threaded input shaft. It’s attached to a brake pad which rubs against a brake disc. When you crank down, the pad and disc ease away from each other via the threads. But the weight on the keel cable then causes the drum to turn (allowing the keel down a little). That drum spin counteracts to return the brake disk closer to the brake pad, thus stopping the drum from turning more. So it goes on a micro level. It alternately loosens/tightens/loosens/tightens the disk against the brake pad as you crank the handle down. The effect is so subtle it feels like one continuous flow to you as you crank down under complete control.

The inverse happens when you crank up. As the handle rotates the input shaft, the brake disc is squeezed closer to the pad, making a very tight friction fit. Then the drum turns in sync with the handle and brings the keel up. A ‘clutch’ mechanism if you will. When I first saw mine, I said to myself ‘how’d they do that without a rachet trip-release?’ Very ingenious.”

The replacement keel winch for a Catalina 22 has two significant improvements compared to the original winch. While the original winch had a small shaft that winds the cable, the new winch has a large 2-1/4” diameter drum. The larger diameter drum prevents kinks in the cable caused by the small shaft of the original winch.

The current replacement winches for both the C-22 (#D1188) and C-25 (#E1898) are also zinc plated to retard the inevitable rust compared to the original painted winches.


Routine Keel Lifting Hardware Maintenance
Be sure to check the parts you don't usually see.