If you have never pulled apart your sheet and halyard winches, you might be surprised at what simple and elegant machines they are on the inside. Winches are built around the drum on the outside that carries the sheets or lines. They come in a range of designs for various purposes, whether it be basic cruising or high end grand prix racing.
For blue water sailors, most skippers will opt for modern stainless steel, chrome or aluminum drums that have a non-slip pattern molded into the drum’s surface. Andersen winches, built in Denmark, have stainless steel drums that have a ribbed pattern that provides just enough friction to keep the sheet or line from slipping on the smooth metal surface.
Harken produces stainless drums for their hydraulic line of winches but offers mainly aluminum, chrome, bronze and carbon fiber drums for various purposes. Similarly, Lewmar offers aluminum and chrome finished drums for most of their winches, with only a couple of stainless steel models in their catalog. Like the Andersen winches, Harken uses a ribbed pattern on the drum to reduce slippage; Lewmar uses a non-skid pattern that grips the line without cutting into the fibers. Read more.