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Author Topic:   Broken winch cable
jimp posted 12-07-2002 12:08 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimp   Send Email to jimp  
This posting is to provide fellow mariners with ideas in case they get in a difficult situation such as this.

Have you ever broken your winch cable with the boat half way up the trailer? What do you do?

1. If you have time, you can pull the replacement winch cable out of the back of the vehicle (providing you carry one), reeve (wrap around) the new cable, and continue pulling.

2. Stop and launch the boat, go buy a new cable, come back and try again. But this may take some time and there may not be a marine supply store for miles.

3. If its a crowded launch ramp and people are getting antsy, you may not have time to reeve the new cable. Well I broke my cable last summer in just this situation. The cable snapped about 1-ft from the bow eye with the Kelsey J (Cetacea 44) about 6-ft from being all the way up on the trailer. My spare was my old cable, tangled in the back of the truck, to free it would have take 15-20 minutes. People were waiting. So, I unwound about 15-ft of cable from the winch and threaded it through the eye on the hook (not the bow eye), then manually wound the extra around the winch drum (in the right direction) and got about 5-6 wraps, then continued to haul the boat. The cable doubled back and traveled through the hook eye, to the winch drum. Yes, the weakest spot was where the cable bent sharply around the eye in the hook. But I figured I was only going to due this once, and it was worth the risk. Well it worked like a champ.

The point of this post is that to meet a situation we all jury rig something from time to time on our boats. And hopefully we set things right when we reach port. I'd like to see other threads on good ideas.

Safety first.


JBCornwell posted 12-07-2002 12:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
With the right trailer and the right ramp, 70hp will make a Montauk climb a wall, or at least to the bow stop.

Red sky at night. . .

simonmeridew posted 12-08-2002 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
The little gear broke on my trailer winch last summer when my montauk was almost to the bow stop. The gears are poor quality being cast white metal and likely to shear off. Anyway, I took one of the transom straps and fastened it to bow eye and over the winch to the trailer frame, and took it slow on the highway looking for another winch. I found one marine store which was open Saturday aft to help me out. Made it home ok by taking it slow.
jimh posted 12-08-2002 10:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
jimp: Are you using wire rope for the winch cable? Or are you using a flat nylon strap?
jimp posted 12-08-2002 12:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
JimH -

Wire rope for the Revenge. I used a nylon strap on my Montauk. And, my wife just gave me a PowerWInch for our Anniversary!


lhg posted 12-09-2002 08:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
If you have a Whaler larger than a Montauk, I strongly recommend you install one of the new thick yellow winch straps, rated at 10,000 to 20,000 pounds. Your fears will be over. I finally got smart and found one at Walmart for $15. But I still carry the old strap as a spare. Wire cables are no longer necessary.
jimp posted 12-09-2002 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
lhg -

Can you use a nylon strap with a PowerWinch?

This is what is good about this Forum. I haven't seen the larger straps in Juneau, didn't even know they existed that big. Good info. Thanks.


triblet posted 12-09-2002 09:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
My problem with winch straps has never been
strength, but the threads that stich on
the hook, and, once, abrasion where it ran
over the winch stand.


Dick posted 12-09-2002 10:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     

It's been years since I have been in Juneau, does Pete still own Alaska Ship Chandlers?


On a properly set up winch and winch stand the strap will never touch a piece of metal.
If you are having that problem it's time for a little re-engineering.


triblet posted 12-10-2002 12:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
It was reengineered right after it happened.

I'd like to reengineer the stitching though,
I've got to resew the hook stitching again
PDQ though.


Barry posted 12-10-2002 11:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Barry  Send Email to Barry     
jimp, I don't think I've ever seen a Powerwinch that used anything but a wire cable. Dutton-Lainson makes a couple of electric winch that use a 2" strap. The Powerwinches seem to be much more common.
jimp posted 12-10-2002 12:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     

Pete is still at Alaska Ship Chandlers. I met him years ago.


lhg posted 12-10-2002 02:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I don't think the Powerwinch can handle straps. But with the 12 Stoltz keel rollers, on SS shafts, under my 25, I have yet to find a ramp where my 2500lb 2-speed DL manual winch wouldn't easily do the job. I don't even need to use the low gear with this 5000# rig.

These new yellow winch straps, only recently showing up in the boat trailer industry, have actually been around for a long time, used in auto towing and commercial trucking strap down. These things are stitched with heavy duty cord, not thread, and are 2" wide and at least 1/16" thick. Walmart sells them in the auto section for vehicle towing, in 15', 20' and 30' lengths, either with loop or hook ends, and in either 10,000 or 20,000# capacity. I've seen them elsewhere, but Walmart seems to have the best prices by far. For my 25, I bought a 30' one, 10,000# capacity, with hooks on both ends. Then I took it to my shoe shop and had him shorten it to 25' with a loop in the end for the winch bolt, leaving the other hook end as factory stitching, which has an overlap about 6" long, white cord crisscrossing back and forth! A yellow strap with loop ends can also be used with no changes, by installing either a shackle or chain "Quick Link" and the hook of your choice. These straps are quite thick, and will completely fill up a boat trailer winch, but your failure worries will be over.

I have noticed that Continental Trailer in Miami/Tampa is now furnishing these straps as original equiment on their larger trailers, with 2500lb 2-speed winches.

Landlocked posted 12-12-2002 10:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     
you guys must have different set ups than me. I just drive the boat up the trailer, turn one turn on the winch to lock her down tight, hook the safety and go.


Drisney posted 12-14-2002 06:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
Landlocked, That is a big difference between a 17' and the 22' The seventeen drives on beautiffully like you say...the 22 is a little more trouble....Dave
Landlocked posted 12-14-2002 10:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     
I used to drive my 22 outrage on as well. I would say our ramps are a little different up here. Never had any trouble with driving on the 22 but then again it was a real beater and I didn't have to be too careful. I think the secret is a moderately steep ramp. Too steep, you can't feel the trailer under you and you drift off the side. Not steep enough - boat is high and dry before you are all the way up.

I typically back in so that the uprights on my trailer are about half under. this leaves the Front of the bunks dry and the front Keel roller just barely submerged. I nose the keel up onto the front roller straighten her out and then goose it intil I feel the bow hit the chock.

JoeH posted 12-15-2002 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for JoeH  Send Email to JoeH     
Seems like the easiest way around it would be prevention(inspection). I can't see a wire rope just failling without showing broken wires/strands, birdcaging, kinking, etc. well in advance. Joe
jimp posted 12-15-2002 05:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
JoeH -

I think you're right, everytime I use the wire rope, I inspect it and make a mental note of where I find broken strands. I did have a few broken strands (fishhooks) here and there, and a small amount of rust coming through in some areas... but not where it broke. No kinks or bends, likely old age, I used it for 6-years, and the old owner had it for 7 years before me (don't know if he ever replaced it.

What did surprise me was the catastrophic failure - bang!


triblet posted 12-21-2002 12:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
One of the biggest advantages of a winch
strap over a cable is that if it breaks,
you just tie a knot in it.


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