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What Is a Winch Lift?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

The term "winch lift" can refer to several devices used to lift and/or move heavy objects. Most of these devices feature a cable with a hook attached to the end, and most also feature some sort of motor to turn the pulley around which that cable is wound. The specific structure of the winch lift can vary from there; lift trucks, for example, are hand carts that feature forks for lifting heavy objects, while overhead winches mount to tracks and trolleys above the ground to lift and move objects across a set path.

Winch lift trucks are hand-operated carts with either forks or a platform used for lifting objects. A winch is mounted to the back of the unit, and the cable runs over the top of the cart and down to the platform or forks. It is likely that the winch lift will be motorized, but hand-operated winches do exist as well. If the unit is motorized, the user will activate a switch that will turn the pulley, thereby retracting the cable and lifting the forks or platform. This lifts the heavy object off the ground easily for moving or maneuvering. If the unit is not motorized, a hand crank must be turned in order to turn the pulley and retract the cable. The winch truck usually features wheels or casters to allow for exceptionally easy movement.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Overhead winch lift systems are mounted to a steel track that runs overhead in a factory or warehouse. The winch is mounted to a trolley that can move freely along the track, making movement of objects possible. This system is almost always motorized; the motor turns the pulley around which the cable is wrapped, and when the cable is fed out, it can be secured around a load to be moved by using the hook at the end of the cable. Once the load is secured, the cable can be retracted and the load lifted. The user will operate the winch lift using a hand controller that operates the pulley wheel as well as the trolley that moves along the steel track.

Other types of winch lift systems exist as well. Some are highly specialized, such as engine lifts. These systems are designed specifically to lift engines out of engine compartments on cars or trucks. A steel frame will support the weight of the engine, and a cable winch system mounted on the steel frame will allow for the lifting capabilities by feeding or retracting the cable.

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