Part of our ongoing, long-term testing includes keeping track of a still-in-use set of 40-something-year-old Barlow 28s, a 30-year-old pair of Barient 25s, and a 25-year-old pair of stainless-steel Lewmar 30s. In a recent field check of these old treasures, line tension testing indicated that the old hardware was in good working order and seemed to have weathered the ravages of time and the elements.
Over the years, they have been regularly cleaned, oiled, and greased. Occasionally, a pawl or two and springs were replaced. Both Barlow 28s received a new set of roller bearings, and the worry over the aluminum drum and base of the Barient 25s proved a nonissue. Corrosion has not impacted the alloy, and the hard anodizing is still doing its job. In short, as long as parts are available, maintaining an older winch can be a cost-effective alternative. The only caveat is to make sure that winch overloading has not bent the spindle or any of the vertical support structure.
Bronze may turn green, but its a self-lubricating metal with great longevity. It does appreciate a little touch of grease every so often, but only use a light oil on the pawls and springs; no grease.
When it comes to solvent-cleaning parts ahead of a full rebuild, consult the winch manufacturer to get a specific list of products to use and what should be avoided. The presence of plastic bushings and composite parts means that some aggressive solvents need to be avoided.