making a canoe hoist

I have never seen a “harken hoist” type hoist. Can anyone describe how they work or how you would go about making a copy. Yes I am cheap and like building things.

Harken is a brand name…
Google Images “Harken Hoist”…lots of photos…

I recently made myself a kayak hoist, based on this online photo essay:

I don’t know whose hoist this is, or how I came across the photos, but I made myself a rudimentary version for about $30 in parts and some webbing I had lying around. Use parts rated for twice the weight, and get high quality rope. The more wraps around the pulleys you do, the more mechanical advantage you get. The essay shows 3 support ropes - I only used two for a lightweight SOF - a canoe should probably use at least 3. I didn’t bother with the shaped blocks to carry the webbing - I just looped the webbing around some rings connected to the lower pulleys. Also, make the wood frame closer to the width of the boat so the straps hang close to vertical - it reduces the load on the wood crosspieces. I also didn’t make a winch, I use a double cleat to anchor the ropes.

Harken’s advantage
is in their rope snubbing hardware. Pretty slick.

That said, many here (including myself) have gone the hardware store route with good results.


Someday I’ll Post Photos…

– Last Updated: Jul-19-07 6:34 PM EST –

... of my hoists. I have four identical hoists, each controlled by a single hand winch of the type you see on the front of any lightweight motorboat trailer (these winches are about ten bucks if you know where to shop). The winch pulls a single rope, but after rounding a few pulleys to get up in the attic space, that rope splits into two separate ropes. Each of those two ropes rounds a final pulley in the rafters and drops down to suspend a boat rack. In short, each boat hangs on two racks, each rack is hung on its own rope, and each of those ropes attaches to a main rope that goes to the winch. I use a number of strategically mounted pulleys along the main rope so that the winch can be put whereever it is convenient.

The boat racks are a wrap-around design, so that the canoe sits upside down on its gunwales on two cross bars. The connection point for the lifting rope is just above the inverted hull, hence the wrap-around design (each wrap-around rack is rectangular, with the rope connection at the center of the upper cross bar). Once the boat is lowered down from its storage position, a clamp-on pair of legs attaches to each end of each gunwale support, effectivly turning each gunwale support into a miniature sawhorse, allowing the wrap-around portion of the rack to be removed. The boat can be picked up and carried out of the garage, or one end can be set on a specially made dolly and the boat is rolled out wheelbarrow-style.

One minor additional feature I have, is that one boat which hangs very close to one wall actually ends up partly underneath the adjacent boat as it is lowered to the floor. That way, I can have stuff along that wall at floor level, and the boat clears that junk on the way down, ending up several feet away from the wall. The mechanism for making the boat come down on a diagonal instead of straight down is pretty simple, but best "described" in pictures (someday).

the google images aren’t easy to make out, expecially if you’ve never seen the rig in person. I think I understand some of how this thing works now, hopefully I can figure it out.

Any suggestions on where to get the hardware (pulleys, winch, etc.?).

Where to get hardware
I got my winches from “Northern Tool”. I get their catalogs, but I’m sure you can order online too. Pulleys can be gotten at any good hardware store. If the pulleys don’t have swivels on the hook end, you’ll need some swivels too if you end up routing the main rope around any corners, etc. I attach the pulleys to various sorts of screw-in hooks, or bolt-threaded hooks. Get good-quality pulleys for any places where the rope makes a sharp bend, especially on the main winch line which carries more load than the two lift ropes do. On a couple of cheaper pulleys of mine, the little axle slipped out of the housing on one side, or maybe it just broke.

Mechanical advantage is your friend
I do not use winches or windlasses to lift my boats. Even an advantage of “2” will make lifting a 50# boat seem easy.

Just make sure that you have a good anchor for tieing off.



– Last Updated: Jul-21-07 2:16 PM EST –

I bought two of these right after we got our boats, I just wanted them off the concrete floor of our model t sized garage in a hurry. The brake and the mechanical adventage of the doubled up line are nice. The brake is the only real piece you would have trouble finding for a do it yourself job. There is a pdf of the instructions on Harken's website, this might be helpful:

They are a little pricey, but they work well and they go up easy.

I heard that it is difficult to install the Harkin hoist. True?

I thought it was pretty easy, probably depends on where your putting it. Took about an hour to put up two. Guess it depends on you. If your pretty handy they go in real easy.

cheap pulleys defeat mechanical advantag
I used inexpensive pulleys from my local big box store. I found that the mechanical advantage of two pulleys is mostly offset by the friction caused by the cheap pulleys. I found it important to run the lines as straight as possible to avoid friction from the pulley body.

Super cheap
Some amazing hoist racks out there… Not mine, I use wood screw eye-bolts screwed into ceiling joists, and decent cord. My tie-downs are eyebolts mounted into the wall studs 1.5" deep. No brakes, no pulleys, no mechanical advantage, works fine even when I lift or lower it alone. Just don’t let go, it comes screaming downward. Just takes a few more walks back and forth to sequentially raise the boat.