Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Servicing Harken Deck Gear: Winches, Cleats, Blocks & Travelers

5th October 2018
A bird settles on a Harken winch during a delivery voyage of a new Jeanneau from France to Turkey A bird settles on a Harken winch during a delivery voyage of a new Jeanneau from France to Turkey Photo: Miles Russell

Harken agent Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland gives some top tips for improving your boat and servicing your Harken deck gear. Barry has been working at the highest level with Harken for 15 years, dealing with boats from Maxis, TP 52s, high-end racing boats, cruising boats and dinghies.

With winter fast approaching, planning your winter service starts this month with deciding which of your deck hardware needs to be cleaned and serviced, and which needs to be upgraded for the start of spring. Harken provides extensive service and upgrade manuals to help you get your boat race ready for the coming season.

Start by making a list of the deck gear you have on your boat, be it big or small. For example: four winches, two genoa tracks, one mainsheet track, four cleats and ten blocks.

To get started on finding the information you need to service your Harken deck gear you will need to identify your tracks and winches. Winches will have a number on the top to identify the size (for example 46.2). For the mainsheet and genoa tracks, all you need is the width of the track and the length of your car(s). Take a picture of your cars and winches for future reference.


Cleaning and servicing your winches is simple. Once you have identified your winches, you can find the relevant service manuals on the Harken website. For example:
This will give you a full overview of all the parts inside your winch and how to service it. You can order extra pawls and springs, winch grease and pawl oil, or a full-service pack which includes all three. There are videos available online showing how to strip your winch and which parts to clean: 

Top Tips:
Use more pawl oil and less grease!  Bring a newspaper and a bucket, so you can keep the boat clean and the parts on board – cut a hole in the newspaper the size of the winch, to catch any drips. When you tighten the screw in the top shaft on the winch, just firm is enough.

Harken winches service

Electric Winches

If you would like to upgrade your existing winch to an electric winch for ease of use, there are just a few changes to make to the Radial or Performa winches: you will need a longer central shaft and the motor. For racing, most boats will also need to add an extra battery to the system.
The difference in IRC for an electric stored-power winch is about one point.

Electric winches can often be a great asset for a boat which is short on crew, as it speeds up tacks making racing and cruising easier. An electrician can help you install a winch motor; it can be a bit tricky to get the winch turning in the right direction! Harken’s new digital switches are simple to use and make life easier and safer for you.

Tracks & Traveler Cars

First of all, look at the attached link to identify the style of car you have and the correct process for removing it from the track to service. Then identify the type of car you have using this guide:

Take the ends off the track and remove the car as shown in the link above. Then remove the bearings, clean them and inspect them for wear. If the bearings need replacing, the guide will confirm the type and quantity used for your car. Harken cars use Delrin or Torlon bearings; changing to other materials will damage the cars and track.

Deck GearJ 121 deck gear


Cam cleats are easy to maintain and rebuild: the Harken 150 Cam-Matic is the most popular and is very simple to service to bring it back to life. Harken can supply service kits for cleats. Giving your cleats some TLC could make your inhauler work better next season – make sure to rinse them with fresh water after every use.


Blocks are also easy to maintain: wash them with soap and warm water, then use McLube OneDrop ball-bearing conditioner on the ball-bearings inside block to protect the balls and keep them working correctly (you really do only need one drop!) Check the rope on your soft-attach blocks for fraying, and to make sure they are attached correctly, or check the shackles and split pins are still present and secure.

Mainsail Battcar Systems

To maintain your battcar system, just use soap and hot water! If the system is new, then the ball-bearings will be held captive in the car, so it is easy to remove the cars to clean them with soap and hot water. You can then use OneDrop ball-bearing conditioner to make sure the ball-bearings will work correctly. Replacing the split-pin in the headboard car is always a good idea, to make sure it’s easy to use for the coming season.

If you are worried about your mainsail stack height being too high, Harken provide a fantastic new switch track system for 18mm track. This is excellent for keeping your stack low, and folding your sail neatly at the same time! 

Top Tip: The differences between Torlon and Delrin are, Torlon balls are high-load emersion ball-bearings. Delrin black balls are low-load emersion ball-bearings with UV protection. Delrin white balls are low-load emersion ball-bearings with no UV protection.

Winch Handles

You can repair the locking mechanism on Harken winch handles with a Lock-In Handle Repair Kit – this is a cheap alternative to throwing the handle away!

Final PhotoAn example of deck gear layout on a modern cruiser-racer

For more tips on Harken products please go here or email me with any questions at the email address below 

Check out the 2019 catalogue to get you started here

uksails topper

About the Loft

UK Sailmakers Ireland brings modern professional sailmaking to Irish Sailing.​ Formerly known as McWilliam Sailmakers; the company was started 47 years ago to bring the latest technology to Irish sailors - we continue this mission today.

Under new leadership in 2018; our loft is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of all Irish sailors. ​As sailmakers we do not just design sails for boats. We design and build sails for your boat. Our extensive and versatile product line allows us to produce sails to suit your requirements and expectations.   

​As a core loft within the UK Sailmakers Group we are uniquely placed to draw from a worldwide pool of knowledge and experience - these ties have been recently strengthened with the return of Barry Hayes and Claire Morgan from Hong Kong. ​Barry held a key role in our primary production facility on Hong Kong Island for the past fifteen years. With their return comes a renewed focus on technology R&D on Irish waters.  

​With a wide variety of sailing conditions and a impressive pool of talent the Irish cruiser racing fleet is the ideal test bed for new technologies.​ 

​As with all things in sailing; the secrets will be closely guarded - but for the first time in decades Irish sailors will be at the forefront of sail technology development.​

Although much has changed; some constants remain. The same great sail and customer service we have provided in the past will continue, as does our commitment and passion for growing the sport of sailing all over the country. 


Barry Hayes [email protected]

Graham Curran [email protected]

Claire Morgan [email protected]

Mark Mansfield [email protected]

Yannick Lemonnier [email protected] 

Andrew Steenson [email protected] 

Contact Information:

UK Sailmakers Ireland

Hoddersfield Mill


County Cork

P43 EY26

Republic of Ireland

Tel: +353 21 4831505

Fax: +353 21 4831700

Email: [email protected]

Barry Hayes

About The Author

Barry Hayes

Email The Author

Barry Hayes, Director of UK Sails Ireland, managed the main UK Production facility for UK Sails in Hong Kong until last October and has been a sail designer with UK sails for over 15 years.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating