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Frequently Asked Questions


I.   Hoist 
        1.  Operation
        2.  Maintenance
II.  Canopies
III. Hoist Accessories
IV.  Piers

I. Hoist

  1. Operation

    A. What is proper boat position?

Boat hoists are designed to lift best when the load weight is evenly distributed over the whole lifting bed. Outboards, I/O's, and V-drives have a large concentration of weight at the stern. These boats need to pull onto the hoist as far as possible. The transom should be close to rear beam of bed. Inboards should be on enough so the motor is between both beams and prop doesn't hit rear beam. Since Pontoon boats are usually long with only an outboard, they should be more centered than regular outboards. Sailboats should be in the approximate center of the bed.

When the boat is on the hoist properly, find a feature on the boat to line up with something on the pier or hoist. This will put the boat in the same position each time. Note that this could change on a cantilever hoist with various water levels.

    B. How do I wind the hoist?

Many winches use a built in clutch system. This will usually engage when winding up and lessen when going down. This prevents hoist from 'Free-wheeling' down. Most hoists will wind up in the clockwise direction. Newer hoists all have arrows to show proper direction for up and down. Many make a 'clicking' sound when going up.

Winding the hoist up backwards WILL disengage the clutch or brake and NOT hold the load up!

Caution must be taken when the hoist must be lowered completely in order to get boat off. With no weight on hoist (boat is floating) the wheel can release off of clutch and allow bed to go completely down. Then the wheel continues to spin causing the cable to reverse itself and the wheel then works in reverse. However, the clutch will not engage, allowing load to 'Free-wheel' down.

    C. How far down do I need to go?

The best way is to lower the hoist until it is just floating. Then give the wheel a slight upward spin (1/8 of a turn) to re-engage clutch. Then push boat out of hoist or gently power off. Then load gear and people into boat. 

    D. How high should I wind the hoist?

If you will be using the boat later, getting boat and bed of hoist out of water is fine.

If you will not be using boat for an extended period (more than 2 days), then hoist should be wound up high enough so any waves will not hit bed of hoist.

ALL HOISTS have an upper limit. Never try to wind up higher than this limit. MAJOR damage to winch, cables, pulleys, and hoist frame can occur.

    E. What if I won't be using hoist for a while?

As stated above, wind hoist up so bed is higher than any waves expected. It is always a good idea to pull drain plug if possible. This prevents water build up overloading hoist. A mooring cover or canopy also helps collecting rain water.

If the boat will not be on the hoist during this period, the bed should be wound up out of the water. This also helps preserve the bunks, cradles, and other accessories on the hoist. Any vinyl should be removed to prevent wind damage to the top and hoist.

    F. What about shallow water?

Many lakes have a problem maintaining adequate water levels in summer. Some steps can be taken to over come this problem. First, lower hoist as far as possible. Then try powering off. Start at low throttle and gradually increase power. Don't go more than half throttle.

Next, any combination of these measures can be taken:

  • Adjust legs (if any) to lower hoist.
  • Remove feet (if any) to lower hoist.
  • Move hoist out to deeper water.
  • Adjust cradles or bunks to get more water (if possible).
  • Jet lower frame down into sand or mud.
  • Get different hoist, with 'V' bed to lower farther.

  2.  Maintenance  

    A.  Should I check cables and pulleys?

Cables and pulleys do eventually begin to wear. They should be checked at least once a year ( more often if one is questionable ). A good time to check them would be in the spring before the hoist goes in the water.

As cables wear individual strands of wire will begin to stick out of the main cable. This is normal. When there are more than a few in a short length, then it is time to replace the cable. Of course, if a major strand of the cable is broken or frayed, the cable must be replaced.
When checking cables, many sections are hidden inside the frame of the hoist. They need to be checked with the bed of the hoist up and down.

Pulleys should be checked to make sure they turn easily when the hoist is being raised or lowered. If one sticks or turns unevenly, further disassembly may be required. The center hole should be round, not oblong. The groove where the cable rides on the sheave should be even all the way around. If not the pulley should be replaced.

For an example on checking a pulley see: ShoreMasterOutdoors Pulley Maintainence

Check for any grease zircs to be greased.

    B.  What should I check on the winch?

Like cables and pulleys, the best time to check this is in the spring before installation.

Lower the bed of the hoist so the winch cable is slack. Check the winch cable now if you forgot when checking the other cables (see A. above).

The shaft the wheel goes onto usually has coarse threads that should be greased with thick grease (e.g. wheel bearing). The wheel might have to be removed to make these threads accessible.
Where the inside hub of the wheel makes contact with the winch there should be some sort of brake or clutch pad. Make sure this pad is not worn out or missing.
Inside the winch there are usually one or more chains. These should be oiled if they are showing signs of rust or not flowing smoothly over gears.

For an example see: ShoreMasterOutdoors Winch Maintainence

Check for any grease zircs to be greased.

    C.  Can I do the repairs or replacement?

Most of the repairs or replacements can be done with standard tools. HOWEVER, if you feel uncomfortable, unsure, or don't have the time, don't take any chances. Call a professional to do it for you (one company immediately comes to mind- 608.249.3100).

If you can find the owner's manual, many of these repairs should be covered. If you are at all unsure, don't take the chance of injury or damaging the hoist. Call a professional! (Contact Us)


II. Canopies

    A.  How do I install my vinyl?

The best way is to install the vinyl with the boat on. This gives you access to all parts of the vinyl. The less wind the better or the vinyl becomes a giant parachute. If you must do it in winds, start at the end or side TO the wind.
It is best to lay out the whole vinyl on the frame and center it before attaching springs, bungees, or other attaching hardware. If it is windy, you may have to attach some hardware as you spread out the vinyl.

Make sure you have enough hardware to hold the vinyl on even during storms.

    B.  What about during the season?

Bird droppings are the worst problem for the vinyl. They will stain and will be baked on by the sun. If possible, spray the vinyl down with pressure from a garden hose. Yes, this is hard to do sometimes.

Keeping birds away from vinyls would be akin to building a better mousetrap. There is no sure fire method.

Keep an eye on springs or other attaching hardware. If they are missing, worn out, or mis-shaped, they should be replaced.

If for some reason the top should tear, it can be removed and patched or stitched at most tent or canvas repair shops.

    C.  How should I remove and store my vinyl?

When you are taking your boat off for the winter, first remove your vinyl. It is easier to remove when you have something to walk about on, and the hoist should not be empty with the vinyl on for any extended length of time. It is best to do this in light winds. Take hardware off first then remove vinyl.
Now is the best time to clean the vinyl. Do Not use strong or harsh detergents. Make sure vinyl is completely dry. Roll (best method) or fold vinyl in such a way as to make installation easy next spring. Store in a clean dry storage space. Replace bad attaching hardware now so you have it for next spring.

Removing, cleaning, and storing a vinyl is a big job because of the size of most vinyls. We do offer a complete package for vinyl care, see our Contact Us.


III. Accessories

    A. What should I know about electric motors?

You should decide whether you want AC (works off of house current, 110V) or DC (works off of 12 V , usually the boat battery). Next would you prefer wheel drive or direct drive?

Wheel drive uses the hoist winch and wheel. A drive wheel on the motor turns the hoist wheel by friction. This is the simplest type but can slip when wet, improperly adjusted, or aged.
Direct drive will replace the operator's wheel. This type often comes with a remote control. There is no slippage, but it can be harder to use during a power outage. This method is usually more expensive.

The AC (110V) version are simple to use but rely on an extension cord to plug them in. The longer the cord the heavier the wire needed. Too small a wire is the most common cause of malfunction in the AC units.
The DC (12V) version is the most compact with no extension cords. They normally have a quick disconnect cable to hook up to a battery, boat or auxiliary. Today's motors use such low power, they will not wear a boat battery down, and solar chargers are available for an auxiliary battery.

    B. What about Guide-ons?

With practice almost anybody can drive a boat onto a hoist. Guide-ons, whether full length or upright posts, will help land a boat when conditions are rough. They should be adjusted so they are slightly wider than the maximum width of the boat. If you can adjust the height, they should be as high as possible but lower than any rub rail they could catch on.

    C.  Bunks or Cradles?

Some hoists come with bunks standard. Many more have them as an option. Bunks will make the hoist easier to get on and off by spreading the boat weight over a larger area. They also give better support for the hull.

The keel of a boat hull is its strongest feature. The cradles are really only to prevent the boat from rocking side to side when you move around inside it. To adjust the cradles, the boat should be on the hoist, held steady and level, and the cradles slid in tight to the hull.


IV. Piers

    A.  What should I check when installing my pier?

If your pier does not have a fixed starter, you should check the 'Aim' after 3 sections. If it is off, you can still move it to fix the direction.

The main pier should be leveled before any deck is put on. If you have to lift the pier at the end, you aren't trying to lift the deck, too.

Is the height enough so if the water level rises, waves won't do any damage?

Check the decking for rotten boards before someone steps through the soft spot. Make sure the decking won't wash out in high waves.

Finally, if someone else puts your hoist in, is the spot for the hoist clearly marked?

    B.  Is there any in season maintenance?

Keep an eye on decking to make sure it is sound all season. When walking out the pier, listen to the sound of loose deck sections, and repair or replace hold downs.

Keeping the pier clean of algae, aquatic weeds, and bird droppings, will keep the footing sound and not slippery.

    C.  Any tips for removing my pier?

As you remove your pier you might want to make any needed repairs. Then everything will be ready to go next spring.

Were any set screws hard to adjust? Clean or replace them now. Were all the hold down clips good? Were any legs bent or need feet welded back on? Did any boards need replacing or entire deck sections replaced? Do any frames need replacing or repair?

When stacking the pier make sure no water can accumulate and freeze causing damage. Stack the decking so it will not be damaged.

Did you think about installing a starter so the pier always starts in the proper position?


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 5440 Blue Bill Park Dr., * Madison, WI * (608) 249-3100

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