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        Question Care, Feeding, Maintenance, and imporvment of Ford Long Shaft Winches

#1 rdwoebke Oct 08, 2012 09:09 AM

Care, Feeding, Maintenance, and imporvment of Ford Long Shaft Winches
Hey guys,

If there is already a thread for this, please point me to it and I will close this one.

I want to start a discussion on care and feeding of FLS winches. FLS winches are super common in the USA. But some are stronger than others. What are steps a person uses to improve/assess what is wrong with a winch? One obvious thing would be to switch to the battery that a "stronger" winch has to confirm it isn't the battery that is at fault. I know that adding "real balls" helps. Are there any diagnostic techniques/tools a person would use to evaluate a winch?


#2 lincoln Oct 08, 2012 09:37 AM

If you have a 12v wind fls like I do, it's very weak on12v. On 24v, it's impressive. I just put the solenoid coils in series. Any warning circuitry will need adjusting, of course. With a 12v wind on 24v you only have half as much current but same power as 6v wind on 12v. So you only need half the capacity in each of the two 12v batteries in series. Lighter that way.

If you have 6v wind, I don't have any advice.

#3 rdwoebke Oct 08, 2012 09:46 AM

Awesome point Lincoln, thanks for dropping in.

How do I confirm what wind a given motor has?


#4 Wazmo Oct 08, 2012 10:17 AM

If there's a part number stamped on the motor, I think 3110 is the 6V part, and 3115 is the 12V. Other than that, I think you have to open up the motor and look at the winding wire gauge. I'll check my box tonight. I ordered one with the 6V wind with heavy gauge field coils. I was told you need that for longevity running the 6V motor on 12V.

#5 lincoln Oct 08, 2012 08:52 PM

If the motor is REALLY weak on a 12V battery, it may well be a 12V wind. Mine would launch 3 meter gliders, but only slowly. I know mine is 12V because I didn't know any better when I ordered it. Presumably, you'd get less rpm per volt on a 12V wind, but I don't know what that rpm should be. A 12V wind should have twice as many turns as a 6V wind, but again, I don't know how many turns that is. I'm not really a winch expert, so I've probably already told you most of what I know.

BTW, a neat trick for winding line onto the drum in a controllable way is to use a battery charger for power, instead of a battery. The low current means there won't be much of a pull.

#6 Wazmo Oct 08, 2012 08:59 PM

My 6V FLS came labelled with a sticker that says "3110N."

#7 rdwoebke Oct 08, 2012 09:28 PM

I'm pretty sure the winches I am investigating are 6 volt winds. They were bought used and some used to belong to the LSF. I'll try to verify though.
Thanks for the ideas guys.


#8 Fly2High Oct 09, 2012 07:47 AM

when it comes to winches 2 things would come to mind

Winch Doc
Tim McCann

Not sure who is doing what these days but both use to make quality parts. Real Ball endplates, turnarounds, winch kits, etc. Both would only supply a sailplane pilot with the best.

If you find their stuff available, do not hessitate to buy it. Everyone witha set of real balls or winch drum or turnaround are super happy campers.


#9 tkallev Oct 09, 2012 08:00 AM


If you are looking at the old red painted LSF winches, those were built by Mike Wade in Michigan ... he can probably tell you the most about how they were put together and maintained.

Mostly, you want to keep them clean. Blow out the motors with compressed air, clean the stators and brushes, aerosol contact cleaner works well and replace the brushes when you see uneven wear or they don't fully contact the windings (or if they get "sparky"). The Real Balls require VERY LITTLE grease in the end cap and the grease fitting in the mounting collar was all marketing, the channel doesn't go anywhere in the early ones we had on the LSF winches ... I can't speak for the newer models but it's unlikely the Winch Doc has changed something that has worked so well over the years.

#10 rdwoebke Oct 09, 2012 09:07 AM

Thanks, guys.

Tom, you are correct in that I personally have a red Nats winch that I bought from the sale of the old stuff and my club has a few of those as well.

The one I have was sold as is, it wasn't ever guaranteed to work. I have taken it apart and tried to use it to learn some things. I run it and it works but it is not even close to being contest quality. I would like to improve it and it does spark sometimes. It has bushings.

My club has a few of those red winches and a few other types some of which seem to work better than others. I was curious on tips and techniques for maintenance and evaluation of them to try to get all of the winches performing at top level. They are all used and purchased from other groups and individuals. For our club winches, the winches that don't have real balls adding real balls might be a good hop up. At the contest this past weekend we used 3 of my club's winches and 2 from LOFT and I did notice the LOFT winches were very strong (and had real balls).


#11 Fly2High Oct 09, 2012 12:18 PM

The nice thing about the real balls is that you can advance or retard the timing and get more/less power from them. Add the fact they have ball bearings instead of bushings and a major WOW factor.

Nice feature to have.

#12 superskeg Oct 09, 2012 01:50 PM


#13 rdwoebke Oct 09, 2012 02:07 PM

Thanks, Tim. That is good info.

Any suggestions for folks on where to get replacement springs or brushes?


#14 superskeg Oct 09, 2012 02:29 PM


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