Latest Update, February 2013:
With the addition of the second clutch, we now use the winch for sledding by riding the line down the hill and then using it to pull us back up. It is much quicker to set up without dealing with the continual loop. This was also the first year we had GoPro cameras for video.
Update, February 2012:
We had the great honor of having a mention of our snow winch in Popular Science in the February 2012 issue. Between the Popular Science interview and when the issue was printed, we also managed to achieve wireless throttle control. We actually developed two working wireless remotes, one using walkie-talkies and Arduino and the second using Android phones on a hill-wide wifi network. Both were very exciting, however a broken power supply on the first remote meant we only ever used or tested the wifi remote on our annual sledding trip. We will work some bugs out of the remote and then see if Popular Science will let us have a full page!
Wakeboard Winch Mode:
We added a second clutch to the winch to allow us to walk the line out. With this update in place, it was time to take it to the creek for a little testing. We had 600′ of spectra and were able to use about 200′ with a body board. It worked perfectly. We also used it during the big north east flood of 2011
Snow Sled Mode:
This project started as an innocent “oh, I have an engine” comment and has turned into a really awesome project. I first blogged about it here but decided it needed a permanent home. The winch is now fully operational and worked well during our first major sledding trip.
The final winch set up involves an 2100 foot long rope that is spliced and will run all day long in a continual 1050 foot loop. The rope alone weighs 70+ pounds and the winch without the rope is close to 200 pounds.
The three different shafts and accompanying gears result in a final drive ratio of 30:1-4.5:1 so it is capable of pulling three adults up a 30 degree incline at comfortable slow speeds or a rather bumpy high speed.
Click the pictures for larger versions.
Note the mountain bike grip shift toward the top of the picture, which is our five speed throttle control. Also barely visible in this picture are the three pulleys that keep the line from jumping as the line makes 4 passes around the spool before heading back down the hill.
Here the main gearing and pillow block set up is visible.
The wide gear range is the result of this monster CVT that delivers the power from a 8hp Techumseh Power Sport engine. As the drive pulley (on engine) speeds up the discs get closer while the discs on the driven pulley (right side of picture) get further apart.
The various wires you see zip-tied to the frame are run three separate electrical kill switches that actually stopped the rider fairly quickly. The most effective kill switch was 15 feet in front of the winch and set up as a trip line.