Power-Assist Winch Grinding from WinchRite

Posted by Admin at 03:29PM - Comments: (4)

Ive 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 cant exceed that of a human trimmer, but wed 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.

Comments (4)

We bought the WinchRite at the 2013 US Sailboat Show but, didn't use it much until we left on our cruise in November 2014. In April 2015 it just quit working, battery fully charged, no obvious damage and out of warranty. The problem with taking these things offshore is that the shipping for warranties or repairs is prohibitively expensive. Sailology wants more than $100 to look at it and much more to fix it, good money after bad. Save your money for the power winch.

Posted by: Bill Y | May 25, 2015 9:26 AM    Report this comment

I bought a Hunter 376 (1998) three years ago, it came with a non-functioning WinchRite. For $150.00 Sailology repaired it. It worked for two seasons and then died. I emailed WinchRite, they don't list a phone number. I was referred to a web page instructing me to mail it back with another $150.00! I will be upgrading to a Lewmar power winch.

Posted by: Dan E | September 28, 2014 10:02 AM    Report this comment

I have used a Milwakee 24vdc r.a. drill with adaptor on my Beneteau 423 for 3 years. It works but the problems are that it requires a strong person to control the touque of the drill, it's weight difficult to stow in the cockpit and potential safety hazard in heavy weather. It will hurt if this hits anyone. For these reasons it is not used all that much.

I'm going to try the Winchrite unit and will report at the end of the 2014 season.

Posted by: Mike John | January 4, 2014 8:55 AM    Report this comment

Since this review was posted, changes were made to the unit, and we've not yet had the opportunity to test the production version in a controlled setting. We are working to arrange a test of this product. Until then, we would be interested in feedback from owners.

Posted by: Darrell | September 18, 2012 10:11 AM    Report this comment

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