Canoe Hoist

I have recently installed a hoist in my garage to lift up my old core craft 80lb. tandem canoe. I got the schematics for it


The problem I have is that when I pull the rope down it is still ridiculously heavy and the back end doesn’t come up either and that’s with pushing down. Is there anything I can do about it maybe add more pullies or greasing them help?? I got these pullies from my father in law and they seemed fine when I tried spinning them and added wd-40 to them as well.

That’s a bad design

– Last Updated: Jul-13-13 7:11 PM EST –

There was a recent discussion here about this exact same design, and that person had the same problem as you. Only with one or two people "helping" the canoe to remain level will both ends rise and fall together. I'm actually heading out the door to assist a friend with something so I have no time, but you can look up that other thread and get the details. What it comes down to is that you need TWO pulling lines, not one. Or you can do what I do with my hoists, and pull a single line which splits into two (thus, the two lines work in synch). Also, I use a winch instead of just my hands. The pulling force needed with simple pulleys is quite a lot greater than the weight of the boat. Actually, it's that pulley friction that keeps the far end from responding - the pulling force on its rope is already greatly reduced, being downstream of a pulley.

I'll post more later if other people don't help you resolve this in the meantime.

I keep wondering what idiot came up with this design for a hoist. More on that later too, perhaps.



I was in a hurry when I wrote before. I looked a little closer at the diagram, and the usual setup for this style of hoist employes double lifting lines and a boat-mounted pulley at BOTH ends of the boat instead of only at the near end, and such a setup would be far better, but still would have the same fault. The system illustrated just amplifies the problem of the far end of the boat not lifting, because twice as much rope tension is needed to lift the rear end of the boat as is needed to lift the front end. In short, the usual setup for this kind of hoist is really bad, but this version is much, much worse (anyone with so little understanding of what it means to remove that boat-mounted pulley from the far end of the boat shouldn't be publishing advice for people to follow). That's the reason you can't level the boat no matter how hard you try - twice as much line tension is needed to lift the far end as the near end.

Here's a variation on my style of hoist.

As explained in the photo texts, I normally employ a single lifting line which splits into two lines after rounding whatever direction-routing pulleys are needed. It is not possible to wind two lines onto the same winch spool and have them both be taken up equally, but a simple solution to that problem is shown as well.

No matter what other modifications you make, make sure the mechanics involved in lifting are the same at both ends of the boat. Use a boat-mounted pulley (as shown for the near end of the boat in that diagram) or just use a single line (like the far end of the boat in that diagram), but don't mix and match the two methods. Using the boat-mounted pulley (double-line lifting) reduces your pulling force to half of what it is with single-line lifting (no pulley), so without the boat-mounted pulleys, you DO need a hand winch.

Guideboat guy has it nailed.
I have nothing to add. Follow his suggestions and you will be a happy camper!


Cannot mount winch unfortunately
I love the idea of the winch but my joists are not visible so arm couldnt turn. Is there an alternative that is relatively inexpensive. I saw worm gear winches but they are pricey as well. Any alternatives?

You can mount a winch

– Last Updated: Jul-14-13 12:45 AM EST –

There's always a way. To mount the winch, you could first build a small framework of wood that would attach to the wall over some extended space, say, occupying a space on the wall that's roughly two feet square. One method would be to make the framework like a letter 'H' turned on its side, so that the two uprights of the 'H' would be horizontal (making them horizontal would mean that each leg would intersect at least two of the wall studs, but other framework shapes could be used, or even just a backing plate of plywood with a built-on winch mount). Those two pieces (or your plywood backing plate) would be flat against the wall, and nailed or screwed through the drywall into the studs behind. The winch would mount to the center section of the 'H', on a piece which protrudes outward. The winch would be alongside that protruding part of the framework, very close to the wall but with its handle facing outward. This way, the handle's orientation of spin would be parallel to the wall, not perpendicular like it was in the photos I posted. In short, you get the same handle orientation you'd have with a worm-gear winch, simply by repositioning the whole winch rather than using a different gearing method. Even on my own bare-stud garage walls (not the garage shown in the photos), each winch is mounted on a small framework that positions it about 4 inches farther from the wall than direct mounting to the studs would do, precisely because I needed to make room for the handle (for the winch in the photos, I took advantage of a 90-degree bend in the wall to get handle clearance, but I still made a little framework for stronger attachment). Turning the orientation of the winch 90 degrees would have allowed me to put them closer to the wall, but there'd still be the need to build at least a little bit of a mounting framework. You just need to build the right framework for your situation.

By the way, the winch in the photos cost about $30, and the winches I use in my own garage are similar but slightly smaller and only cost about $12. Even the smallest model you can find (like the 12-dollar ones I use) can easily handle several hundred pounds, so there's no need to spend much. It's a very cheap way to reduce effort to zero and eliminate any "drop risk" that you'd deal with when handling the lines with your hands.

those wood & canvas tandems…no
way around it, they are tanks. Better get something heavy-duty. Even so, are quite a load on any crossbeams…

Where is a good place to purchase the winch?

Any big-box hardware store, or…

– Last Updated: Jul-17-13 1:29 AM EST –

... any place that sells accessories for utility trailers (in the big-box store, they will be in the truck-accessories and trailer department). I ordered my cheap ones from Northern Tool. They probably still have the same model available, but I'm not totally sure. That one might actually be $10, not $12.

It helps to know that the usual application for this kind of winch is on trailers for small motorboats.

Load on cross beams

– Last Updated: Jul-17-13 1:54 AM EST –

The load probably isn't that bad, and if you have trusses instead of old-fashioned rafters and stringers it'll be no problem at all for many times the weight of such a boat. But if there's no ceiling, the best thing to do is hang each lifting pulley from a piece of lumber spanning the distance between two adjacent rafters (or the roof portion of two adjacent trusses). It'll be impossible to overload such an attachment point (not with a small boat anyway), and it puts the hardware high and out of the way, meaning you can lift the boat right up so it almost touches the bottom edge of the stringers (or bottoms of trusses). The boat will hang several inches lower (with the exact amount depending on your style of attachment hardware and pulley hooks) if you attach the lifting pulleys to the rafter stringers or bottom sections of trusses (cross beams) themselves.