Ultrasonic precision cleaning of yacht winch components

Harken is synonymous throughout the yachting world with top-quality sailboat deck hardware. This renowned company, founded in 1967 on the basis of a brilliant invention by Chairman Peter Harken (the first Harken ball bearing block), can now provide all sailboat deck hardware, including winches, needed for America’s Cup races.

Cleaning of most of the mechanical components used in Harken winches is done by the SONICA 45L EP S3 ultrasonic cleaner,
with Sweep System technology produced by SOLTEC Srl of Milan.

parte meccanica prima del lavaggio ad ultrasuoni SONICA
Fig. 1

parte meccanica prima del lavaggio ad ultrasuoni - Mechanical part before ultrasonic cleaningFig. 2

Mechanical parts before ultrasonic treatmentFig. 4

Figura 1/2/4 - Details with obvious signs of dirt and oxidation before ultrasonic treatment 

some mechanical parts of a winch completely disassembled before ultrasonic cleaning with a SONICA 45L EP S3 manufactured by SOLTEC Srl Milano Italy

Figura 3 - Winch parts before ultrasonic treatment

During previous editions of the America’s Cup, first in 2003 with One World Challenge and thereafter in 2007 with the Desafio Español 2007 team, SOLTEC acquired a wide range of in-depth technical skills and developed perfect ultrasonic precision cleaning
products, for more than 2000 different mechanical and hydraulic parts. The parts, made from technologically advanced materials, such as Delrin, Ertalite, Torlon Peak, stainless steels such as 316L, 17-4ph, 13/8 and 2205, aluminum alloys 5083, 6061 and 7000, titanium, carbon fibre and composite epoxy laminates were treated with ultrasound, with incredibly outstanding results.

Mechanical part before SONICA precision Ultrasonic Cleaning treatment
Fig. 5

Detail with obvious signs of dirt and oxidation before ultrasonic treatment

Mechanical part perfectly cleaned with SONICA ultrasonic technology
Fig. 6

Detail after ultrasonic treatment

particolare meccanico prima del trattamento di lavaggio con ultrasuoni

Fig. 7

Particolare meccanico dopo aver effettuato il lavaggio di precisione con ultrasuoni SONICA

Fig. 8

Fig. 7/8 Detail before and after ultrasonic treatment

But let’s look in detail at how the SONICA ultrasonic cleaning system works.

During an America’s Cup race, the winches have to be in perfect working order, otherwise a mixture of nautical grease, salt, oxidation residues and wear particles can even cause the whole system to seize up.
To prevent this, the whole winch is completely dismantled into its component parts, and each piece is placed in an ultrasonic cleaning bath in a special basket and undergoes an ultrasonic cleaning process that lasts for an average of 30 minutes.
The ultrasonic cavitation process generated inside a special alkaline washing liquid specifically designed for this SONICA ML application produces micro-cavitation bubbles, which have enough energy to detach all dirt particles from parts being cleaned.
After ultrasonic cleaning, the pieces treated are then reassembled, thus making the part as good as new, and ready for the next race.

winch mechanical parts cleaned by SOLTEC SONICA ultrasound technology
  Fig. 9

Various details after SONICA ultrasonic cleaningwith SONICA ML concentrated alkaline detergent

Cilinder cleaned with SONICA Ultrasonic Cleaner

Fig. 10

After ultrasonic cleaning there are not residues of grease or dirt

Fig. 11

Figure 10/11 - Detail after SONICA ultrasonic cleaning. Even in spring mechanisms there are no grease or dirt residues. The part is ready to be reassembled
after maintenance.

Thanks to the experience and advice of Massimiliano Zafaro, Harken Italy Assembly Supervisor, the Italian branch of the Group where Harken winches are designed and produced for the whole world, we have been able to test and re-test the effectiveness
of our SONICA ultrasonic cleaning system, which has been successfully applied, not only in recent editions of the America’s Cup, but also in countless repairs of mechanical winch components which come to servicing centre to be restored to their
original factory condition.

Stefano Guidi
Managing Director

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