Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winch wires

Pulling the boat out the other day I noted that the trailer winch wire was looking tired and that in spite of my administering medication in the form of putting it in a bath of oil it was not going to last much longer.
Getting a new one jumped to the top of the list, a broken wire when trying to retrieve the boat after a days sailing takes the edge of the experience so last friday I went off to town intending to get one of the synthetic ones.
Went to Rollos Marine in Te Rapa, asked the supercilous snit at the counter for a trailer winch rope and was shown a selection of bright orange ropes in shiny packages with nice printed card tops. They looked nice but the price for the one I wanted was just over eighty dollars!  ( I bet Peter Nobbs the manufacturer doesnt get much  of that!)
I picked myself up off the floor and asked if he had any of the traditional galvanised wire ones, and was told "Oh, nobody uses those anymore, we dont carry them."
Well, I was out the door like my wallet was on fire, and went a couple of hundred yards down the road to Steel and Tube ropes and rigging shop. These guys do commercial and forestry rigging, crane ropes and all that sort of stuff.  A very obliging gent handed me a high viz vest, took me out to where a big cheerful guy was busy doing braid to chain splices and showed me the rack of cable.  I picked the 4mm one, told him 7metres and in a jif it was out, cut, and in the press having a hard thimble fitted.
The 4mm is a light rope, but my experience is that the heavier wires dont do well when wrapped around the relatively small winch drum, but it has a breaking strain of about 850 kg, and a working load equivalent to just over half the weight of the boat and I'm not that strong on the winch.
$10.20 inc GST.!  And a pleasant experience to boot!  For sure the wire wont last as well as the synthetic rope, but I think that I can buy that synthetic rope when next I am at Quality Equipment from whom I buy most of my "string".
In the meantime, for about a dozen launchings a year the wire will last for a while. I  know where I'll go next time!

So the job this afternoon is to take the old winch off and put it aside, its handle tends to come off when the load is on which could be risky and I've a spare which has a better handle arrangement and a slightly lower 'low gear" which is helpful in dragging the wee boat up onto the trailer.

One handle is on one shaft giving direct drive for quick winding up, and the other one on the reduction for a slow and powerful pull.  My rough arithmetic tells me that I can get about a 300 kg pull on this which is slightly better than the old winch which had less reduction and handles that tended to walk off the end of the shaft when winding under load ( ouch!)

I'll soak the new wire rope for a while in mildly warmed oil before fitting it, (  Puts the patch on one eye and dons the fake wooden leg " I'll boil ee in oil harrghharrrgh!"  ) and it will be all ready for thursday when I'm hoping to take her out and sail to try a couple of mods to the rig.

John Welsford


  1. Arrrgh!sounds like ee's been drinking the oil

  2. What's the downside of just using 8mm double braid? It's breaking load is well over 1200 Kg. You probably have a lot of it lying around. Are there any down sides that I'm missing?