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Power Winches for Boat Trailers

Six features to look for when shopping power winches.

September 12, 2014
Power Winches for Boat Trailers

It’s nice to have a little help putting the boat back on the trailer. A 12-volt winch can make the job easier, but there are critical factors to consider to ensure you get the help you need. Mark Davis of Powerwinch gave us his thoughts.

1. Capacity
In addition to the boat’s weight, remember to consider the weight of the gear and fuel aboard the boat. Underestimate and you’ll fry the winch. Always err on the side of too much hauling power rather than too little.

2. Cable or Strap?
Cables offer more length and strength but can corrode. Cables can also bind and hang up on themselves when paying out. Straps are less likely to wrap up on themselves. ­Powerwinch offers strap-equipped winches rated up to 7,500 pounds; cable models start at 3,500 pounds.   3. Light
Launch or load at night? Get a winch with a light, like the one integral to the Powerwinch RC30 winch shown here, to help you see better.

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4. Feed Type
With the power-in, freewheel-out system, the winch’s motor pulls the boat onto the trailer and a clutch release uses gravity to launch the boat. If you want more control — or you launch at steep ramps — definitely get the power-in, power-out option.

5. Remote Control
A remote control unit lets you retrieve the boat when you’re standing a short distance from the winch, which makes operation safer for you in the event of a malfunction.

6. UV Protection
If the winch you are considering has any plastic parts, make sure the manufacturer uses an ultraviolet-protected ABS plastic. Many winch housings deteriorate rapidly with exposure to the sun.

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Quick Tip: Make sure the safety chain between the winch stand and the bow eye is adjusted so that it’s a tight fit.

Protection for engines and drives while towing.

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