Posted by Admin at 03:29PM - Comments: (4)
I’ve seen several attempts to convert existing battery-operated power tools into power winches, and readers have suggested a few of them in the Mailport section of Practical Sailor. Not surprisingly, it is a popular topic with our long-term subscribers. Many of you have been with us for more than 30 years (amen!), and the years of winch grinding are inevitably taking their toll on wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
One approach is simply adding the basic WinchBit, to a Milwaukee right-angle drill, a handy power tool you might want to have on board anyway. (We profiled other essential battery-operated power tools in this article in 2007.)
However, the ergonomics and functionality of these converted tools has always been lacking, and they are typically quite heavy.
A new company, Sailology, has clearly invested a lot in the design and tooling for a dedicated power-winch conversion. The boat show demo model we tried was relatively light, easy to handle, and well constructed. We look forward to a long-term test of a production model when it becomes available.
The current version does not have a locking bit, which some might consider to be a handy feature. However, not having a locking bit actually makes the unit safer to use, as you will be able to quickly disengage it. According to the makers, the device is designed so that the maximum torque can’t exceed that of a human trimmer, but we’d still be wary of ripping the head out of an old sail when connecting this device to a halyard winch.
My biggest question is how well the rechargeable battery will hold up over the long-term. According to the makers, since the device is used so infrequently, they expect it will be three to five years before the lithium battery hits the charge cycle limit. Although the product was initially designed with a non-replaceable battery, in response to queries from potential buyers, Sailology has decided to make the battery replaceable. The price for the battery is not yet available.
UPDATE: This iteration of the WinchRite was discontinued in the summer of 2014. The new model is brushless.