Unsubscribing from the CQ Contest really boosts one’s productivity. In about 24 hours I replaced the manual tower winch by an electrical winch assembly. 🙂
When I ordered the tower way back in time, the manufacturer did not want to make one with an electrical winch. But a few years ago I visited another ham who had the same tower with an electrical winch ‘factory default’. I contacted the manufacturer and asked for a price quote to retrofit an electrical winching system on my tower. The figure I got was hexadecimal for ‘we are not interested in doing such a job but if you’re crazy enough…’. Then I looked for some cheapo DYI 12V winch used on terrain vehicles but I really had to be sure the system can handle the load. I also visited a local dealer of professional winches used on boats and costruction cranes. Ouch – VERY expensive. So I kept my eyes open and cranked up the tower by hand.
It pays to know people who know people. I was looking at an online picture album of a ham-friend who built a new antenna and to hoist it up into a temporary position, he used a second hand electrical winch. I asked where he got it and through him I got to know someone who’s in the winching business for a living and has access to second hand and surplus stuff. The rest is history. The winch is as good as new but at a fifth of the price quote the tower manufacturer gave me. I even got it customized to my needs and to fit the tower! Installation was a breeze.
I wanted an electrical winch because a manual breaked winch makes a rattling noise when winching up. That’s the break jumping back between each tooth of the gears. I hate that noise. I don’t want to disturb the peace here. This one is breaked by its large reduction. So now I have my hands and eyes free to see what’s happening with the coax cable and the ropes for the pulleys. Winching up isn’t a big deal for the young and muscular type that I am 🙂 🙂 but we don’t stay young forever.
Winching up goes rather slow because of the big reduction ratio. This in turn makes for a giant torque. I can winch it up as fast by hand (painful arm the day after then) but on the other hand it doesn’t produce much mechanical stress when stopping the drive. I’m a happy camper! I just need to finish the installation with a limit switch and some shelter for the motor. When it rains, the water gets in the cooling fan. Rather that than reading CQ-Contest!