Rebuilding and Polishing Bronze Merriman No. 2 Sheet Winches

Starboard Merriman No2 Bronze Winch - Before

The old Merriman Winches on my boat are 46 years old. I could tell the port winch had been rebuilt because some PO had used poor substitute springs. Merriman No. 2 winches are incredibly simple – but before I get started, here is a bit of history about the winch and the company.  

Merriman Winches  

Merriman Winches have been out of production for many years. During more than 80 years of production Merriman produced dozens of different types of winches in many sizes.  

Merriman Bronze Winches – Identification through Pawls and Springs
Merriman #395 and #396 Bronze Winches were produced from the mid 1920’s until the early 1970’s, and are the most commonly seen Bronze winches. Up until 1971, there was simply 3 sizes and 2 variations. 

Sometimes Chrome-plated, these Top-action (#395) and Bottom-action (#396) Halyard and Sheet Winches all used a Flat, Slide-in Bronze Winch Handle. Most Winches have the size (#1, 2, or 3) stamped in the top. Versions produced after 1963 used square Pawls, earlier models had Round Pawls.  

The Winch with the "screw" and top removed

Even though my boat has a build date of 1964, the winches are several years older because of the use of stock at hand. The winches on Connie are the last of the round pawl 395’s.  

Merriman 395/6 #2 Bronze Winch has 3/8″ Round Monel Pawls for Merriman #396-2 and early #395-2 Bronze Winches. Pawls are machined from 3/8″ Round Monel stock. Pawls are 3/8″ diameter x 1″ (maximum) long. To rebuild the winch with new parts, a set includes (4) Pawls and (3) Springs (1 extra).  

Once again, these winches are dead simple to dismantle. You can just use the original winch handle to remove the top “screw”.  

Remove the “screw”.  

Pull off the top of the winch.  

Lift off the drum.  

Make sure that you do not loose the pawl pins and springs!  

Dismantled winch parts - only the mount / shaft is not removable

Clean all the parts with thinner, mineral spirits or varsol.  

If the springs are damaged, a medium compression spring, 1/4″ x 5/8-3/4″ (I cut down a 2″ spring) can be substituted in a pinch.  

After I degreased everything, I took the bronze parts and ran them in my polisher with a brass brush, the polisher with brown then white polish. I reassembled everything with a light coat (the springs get a heavy coat) of CV joint grease. Why CV joint grease? These winches were originally ‘oil’ winches – there is an oil hole on the top. The PO had packed the winch with thick grease (it felt like bearing grease). CV joint grease has graphite, is thinner and water-resistant.  

Polished and feeling great!

Now they are done! I hope to bring the rest of the boat to the same or above standard.

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2 Responses to Rebuilding and Polishing Bronze Merriman No. 2 Sheet Winches

  1. terry says:

    i have the same winches buy im wondering do i oil it before attempting to inscrew the winch or what do i do reply asap thank you

    • When putting them back together, I used CV joint grease on the springs and studs. You could oil the threads when assembling.

      Are you asking about unscrewing?? – The oil hole does not lead to the threads – so if they are really stuck, use the end of the winch handle to unscrew them and you can increase the power of the handle by grabbing onto it with a crescent wrench. They come apart by removing the center ‘screw’.

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