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Old 20 February 2008, 21:06   #1
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Check your winch

Well, disaster struck today. Having completely overhauled the trailer, grease up bearings, checked and adusted brakes etc. etc. I thought I would take it and the boat for a test drive around the block. I had the winch cable attached to the bow eye and snugged down but no backup chain. Going up a slight incline at 20mph there was a bang and a look in the mirror showed the boat sliding back off the trailer. The rear of the hull hit the road as did the engine lower unit. Fortunately I got the rig stopped in about 8 feet with the bow of the boat pointing at the sky and half the boat off the trailer. First thought was to winch it back onto the roller trailer. Started winching and it started to move, then bang again. The winch catch/gear locking pawl let go and the winch handle spun and turned the back of my hand into bloody mashed flesh. No bones broken. It was only 200yds from my house so I went and got as much rope and other stuff as I could and got the little lady to load wood blocks, bricks, more rope and a hydraulic jack in her car and bring it to me. Now I needed a plan.
Can't/ will not use the winch again so the only way is to uncouple the trailer and use the car to "tow" the boat back on the trailer. I let some air out of the trailer tyres, chocked with a couple of wall bricks and applied handbrake. Hooked up heavy tow rope and inched forward but at one point it seemed to stop moving so I put the jack under the rear of the trailer and raised it up a couple of inches. The boat then smoothly rolled up but as it came " over the hump" it shot forward and hit the winch post stop hard. Towed it home slow. Damage is scraped planning pad on hull, slightly scraped engine and a left hand that is twice the size of right hand. Winch is going in the bin.
Good news is the trailer rollers all work.
How would you check a winch ?????? Hope tomorrow will be a better day.
Also, many thanks to the little lady who did a perfect job assisting.
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Old 21 February 2008, 00:14   #2
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Gee that's bad luck. Sorry about your hand and hope it recovers soon

Its a good lesson for taking the time to have that extra security when towing on the road, but that accident could happen on any boat ramp if you don't use the safety chain.
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Old 21 February 2008, 00:36   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limey Linda View Post
Going up a slight incline at 20mph there was a bang and a look in the mirror showed the boat sliding back off the trailer.
Quote:
The rear of the hull hit the road as did the engine lower unit.
Quote:
Started winching and it started to move, then bang again.
Quote:
the winch handle spun and turned the back of my hand into bloody mashed flesh.
Quote:
it shot forward and hit the winch post stop hard.
Quote:
Damage is scraped planning pad on hull, slightly scraped engine and a left hand that is twice the size of right hand.
Quote:
Good news is the trailer rollers all work.
you are definitely a glass half full guy then!
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Old 21 February 2008, 05:23   #4
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You have my sympathy. All my biggest boating problems have been with trailers. One time I lifted the hitch off the tow ball, the hand brake failed, and the trailer plus boat rolled forward and trapped my hand between hitch and car. (Big Ouch, and a trip to the plastic surgeon). Another time, some b*st*rd loosened the bolts on the U-bolts holding the winch arm onto the trailer body, and I had a similar experience to you as we started up the slip. Fortunately, the boat just slipped back into the water and no damage done. At least there was a positive to that - I checked all around the trailer and found that the wheel nuts had also been loosened. Could have been very nasty.
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Old 21 February 2008, 06:56   #5
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Sory to hear about your misshap and hope the hand gets better soon.

Happened to the guy that was selling KoHaKu to me, we went for a sea trial and backing the RIB down the slipway the winch broke and deposited her on the slipway. I got 300 off the price for the cost of a winch and some gelcoat

What we did to winch her back on was to reverse the car and trailer down the slip whilst winching at the same speed, that way the winch wasn't under so much strain and the gelcoat wasn't damaged anymore by scraping along the concrete.

I always use a ratchet strap though the bow eye as soon as the boats on the trailer.
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Old 21 February 2008, 08:09   #6
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Hi Linda
Hope your hand and the keel of the boat (in that order!!) are OK. My experience of American trailers is that most have wire cables. If yours is the same I would seriously recommend you change the winch to a fabric strop model. Not only do strops make it easier to see damage/weakness at an early stage, but if they break they don't send a very dangerous wire end flailing towards eyes etc !!!!
Sounds like a great boat recovery exercise!!!
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Old 21 February 2008, 09:40   #7
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trailers suck

Quote:
Originally Posted by Limey Linda View Post
Well, disaster struck today. Having completely overhauled the trailer, grease up bearings, checked and adusted brakes etc. etc. I thought I would take it and the boat for a test drive around the block. I had the winch cable attached to the bow eye and snugged down but no backup chain. Going up a slight incline at 20mph there was a bang and a look in the mirror showed the boat sliding back off the trailer. The rear of the hull hit the road as did the engine lower unit. Fortunately I got the rig stopped in about 8 feet with the bow of the boat pointing at the sky and half the boat off the trailer. First thought was to winch it back onto the roller trailer. Started winching and it started to move, then bang again. The winch catch/gear locking pawl let go and the winch handle spun and turned the back of my hand into bloody mashed flesh. No bones broken. It was only 200yds from my house so I went and got as much rope and other stuff as I could and got the little lady to load wood blocks, bricks, more rope and a hydraulic jack in her car and bring it to me. Now I needed a plan.
Can't/ will not use the winch again so the only way is to uncouple the trailer and use the car to "tow" the boat back on the trailer. I let some air out of the trailer tyres, chocked with a couple of wall bricks and applied handbrake. Hooked up heavy tow rope and inched forward but at one point it seemed to stop moving so I put the jack under the rear of the trailer and raised it up a couple of inches. The boat then smoothly rolled up but as it came " over the hump" it shot forward and hit the winch post stop hard. Towed it home slow. Damage is scraped planning pad on hull, slightly scraped engine and a left hand that is twice the size of right hand. Winch is going in the bin.
Good news is the trailer rollers all work.
How would you check a winch ?????? Hope tomorrow will be a better day.
Also, many thanks to the little lady who did a perfect job assisting.
Well, thats one experience you won't be repeating, we don't tend to forget those kind of things. Most of these boat winches are marginal in imho, this is an area where I am sure some improvement could be made, most of these winches are essentially the same/unchanged and with us in the new century I would think a better, more robust, easier to use, more failsafe arrangement is out there, it just hasn't been applied or introduced to the people building boat trailers... Hope your hand heals quick...

We've all had incidents with trailers, my personal favorite was about three years ago where I was bringing my current boat back to Ohio from Maryland, I'm tooling along on the PA. turnpike when some lady pulls along side my truck honking frantically, I roll down the window to find out I had lost a wheel and never even noticed it! I made it about 100 miles further on one wheel and eventually had to stop to avoid losing that wheel as well, left the boat and trailer there and drove the rest of the way home that night. Called a tow company and spent the rest of the next day and $560 dollars making sure I got it back home from Pennsylvania, I should have checked the bearings before I left Maryland but noooo... It'll be o.k... was that wrong, after buying a new tire, wheel, hub and fixing the burnt up axles / threads I was only in the hole for about a grand. Plus all the time spent.
Trailers suck...
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Old 21 February 2008, 10:56   #8
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Originally Posted by Limey Linda View Post
Started winching and it started to move, then bang again. The winch catch/gear locking pawl let go and the winch handle spun and turned the back of my hand into bloody mashed flesh. No bones broken.
OUCH!!! Been there. You have my sympathy.

What happened to the transom straps? Did they break?
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Old 21 February 2008, 11:05   #9
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Thanks for all the kind words. Needless to say, my old bod. is very sore today but the swelling on the hand has gone down a bit. Just had a close look at the winch. It is in perfect condition. However. it has a three position catch. Up, Down and free wheel. The catch cannot vibrate from one position to the other. The catch is a straight plunger, sprung loaded to engage the smaller of the two gears. It is not a hook type. I think this is a major design flaw as it appears that under heavy load the plunger can cam out of engagement. I assume that it is a winch up and winch down because the trailer has a tilting frame for launching and recovery. I think I am going for a new oneway winch and bolt the frame so it cannot tilt.
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Old 21 February 2008, 11:35   #10
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Lesson here, I think, is not to trust the winch as a load holding device. Trailer winches are generally not really well maintained, and generally not really over-designed as a lot of other mission critical parts are.

For me, any time I'm moving the trailer, the bow safety chain is connected. (In truth, I sort of modified mine to keep it from hopping out of the bow eye: the chain is bolted to the winch stand, the other end has the normal "J" hook, but also a large carabiner that goes to the bow eye. The J hook is then brought back to the chain and fed through a link, shortening the play in the chain.) I also run a strap from the eye down around a trailer member to keep the bow from bouncing on the bow stop pad, which I would think helps minimize stress on the winch as well.

But, I will say that I've experienced the same thing you did (with somewhat less physical injury) on friends' trailers.

Hope everything heals up quickly.

jky
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