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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone.

I just wanted to introduce myself and show you a new winch technology I've been working on. It's basically an electric winch that you don't have to operate with buttons. One simply pulls on the line to activate the electric motor and stops pulling to stop the motor. I think it's great for single handed sailing.

This is not a commercial product right now. So far I've just got the one prototype and a patent pending status. I just wanted to see what everyone thought of this. You can find out more by going to powerassistwinch.com.

Thanks.
 

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And how is this supposed to work with selftailing winches, which are a perfectly great, already existing innovation for single handed sailing?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Capta,

I'm glad you asked that question. The way my invention works, it doesn't rely on the line being in the self-tailer to activate it. Therefore, you can start trimming your sail immediately, even before the tack is finished, and run the line through the self-tailer or cleat off once you're trimmed.

The other advantage is that you still have the feeling you are controlling the sails rather than pushing buttons. I've used this on a boat, as you can see on my website, and it works very intuitively. Thanks for the question.

-Tony
 

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I just watched you video. And it is only in light air. I assume when you say all you have to do is pull and the winch helps, but do you actually need to be able to move the sheet towards you a small amount to activate the assisted winch? If so it will not work on a load that is greater than I can pull, like when flying my 150% head sail in 17k+ winds.
 

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Looks like the trick is in the "on" switch, which Tony has incorporated into the winch drum itself. Very neat! The demo is in such light air however, that cranking the winch is almost unnecessary. The kids pulling against the adults...? That shows the directionality of the winch drum's turning: when it's on, it works. What we need to see is a situation more like the lifting of the 500+ pounds, on a boat in a breeze.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Delta-T,

Thanks for watching the video. I assure you it will work in strong winds otherwise it wouldn't be a very good invention, would it? The way the winch works is by using a fairlead to isolate the force of the sail in one direction. With this force, however strong it may be, isolated in that one direction, it is very easy to pull perpendicular to that force. The winch is actually mounted on linear rails that are perpendicular to that strong force, so all you need is a small force to move the winch a small amount (less than 1mm) to activate a switch that turns on the motor.

Think of it like this, when you cleat off your line under high winds, it's impossible to pull in that line with your own power because of the tension on the line. Now how difficult would it be to move that line a tiny amount perpendicular to that force? It takes hardly any force at all.

If you look at my video, I had two instances of where the strength was tested. In one, I lifted 525 lbs and I would guess I had to pull as hard as I would lifting a bowling ball, making it somewhere around 10 lbs. In the other, we used my 4 year old niece and nephew, and we were pulling so hard we moved the fork truck it was mounted to. I'm guessing it was more than the 525 lbs that time. I haven't tested the breaking point of it yet just because its my only prototype at the moment.

I hope this answers your questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
benesailor,

Please read the response to Delta-T to see why the fairlead is necessary. Actually, a block could accomplish the same thing as long as the line always ran through it.

As for speed, in my prototype I used a winch motor from harbor freight that I could get for $50. It wasn't designed for this purpose and wasn't meant to be used for this. My plan is to either sell this to a winch manufacturer or produce kits to mount these to already existing electric winches. I don't plan on making my own winches or motors, just the activation method.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
paulk,

The switch is actually underneath the drum. I would have loved to have tested it in higher winds because I'm absolutely sure it would work without a hitch, but I'm in Toledo, Ohio and we actually got it mounted to the boat about 4 hours before the boat got pulled out of the water for the winter so I only had that little time on the water with it. I can tell this, in that small amount of time I did use it, I found it to be very handy and intuitive. It was nice not having to use the winch handle and it felt like you were really in control of the trim.
 

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Hi , I think this is great . When I had my shop I was always trying to come up with stuff to produce and sell . I never really came up with anything that was a real seller . I passed on a lot of things for liability concerns . I think this is a very innovative unit , certainly a lot cleaner than the WinchRite . Where the WinchRite has you though is on a cabin top winch , or a mast winch or for me my boat does not have combings . I do not think that these things are deal killers . I say full speed ahead ! Good luck !
 

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I still don't understand how this will work with selftailing winches. I put the line in the selftailer and crank or push the button; I don't pull the sheet at all.
What I would like someone to do is improve the switch technology for existing electric winches. It would be great if the force on the button (or a sideways movement?) increased the speed and there was a point at which the winch would shut down if the switch failed to shut the winch off, rather than tear the clew out of the sail. But I guess it's good there's still something left for the crew to do, so we'll just pay attention to what we're doing, when pushing that button with one finger, or a toe, if single handing.
I do admire your inventiveness and wish you luck.
 

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I think this would be great for my main halyard, not so sure as a replacement for my self tailing winches on my jib.

Estimate for cost as a main halyard winch?
 

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Electric winches (Harken) start at just over 3k and rise in price quickly from there. The power assist is a switching mechanism as far as I can tell so it would add to the winch price.
 
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