Sunday, April 10, 2016

Building a garage hoist for my canoe

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A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to putting together a system that could 1.) Get my canoe into my garage in the winter when there are two vehicles there, 2.) Allow one person to lift it into position, and 3.) Fit it around existing structures, hardware, and other stored items. I’d been storing it on a rack outside but, especially with Royalex no longer being made, I wanted to treat it with a little more care.

The trickiest part, as you can see from the first photo, was that there’s a relatively small three-dimensional volume to fit the 17 foot canoe into. It had to go front to back, clear the garage door opener and garage door, ideally not force me to move the sea kayak, and have room for my small car to slide in underneath. It did all work, but barely, and it meant that I needed to cinch it up fairly precisely.

To start with, I just installed a couple of pulleys to lift the boat, but a Tripper with outfitting weighs over 80 pounds and it was just too heavy to readily lift up and then cinch into precise position. 

Now you can deal with the weight problem by adding additional pulleys so that you’re pulling more rope with less force. However, it can be hard to get the canoe to pull up evenly and I could never get this working in a way that positioned the boat as precisely as I needed it to be.

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I next considered an electric winch. I went so far as to buy one and I think it would have worked but I was having trouble finding an ideal place to mount it and it seemed like overkill.

The solution I ended up with was a manual 600 pound winch that cost under $20 from Amazon. As you can see, two lines go up to a pair of pulleys. (I have overhead beams for storage on this side of the garage so I ended up just tying the pulleys to the existing beams.) One of the lines then heads down over the swivel pulley and is clipped into one cradle holding one end of the canoe. The other line goes through its pulley, which changes its direction 90 degrees to run to the other end of the canoe where a final pulley drops it down to be clipped into the other cradle. 

Don’t read too much into the exact pulleys I used. I had a couple laying around and I bought another couple of “clothesline” pulleys at Home Depot. I could probably have mounted the canoe right side up with just a sling but I think I was able to get it up a little higher this way. (It’s a tight fit; I guess if I ever get a bigger car, I’ll have to revisit this. The canoe gets transported on an SUV.)

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I’ll probably add a couple more clips to the system just to make it a little easier to position the cradles. And, before next winter, I’ll put a backup safety sling of some sort in place. But, overall this system seems to work very well. It takes very little effort to hoist the canoe into place and, once all the rope lengths and slings are properly adjusted, it’s very repeatable and straightforward. The canoe hangs down a bit lower than is ideal but that’s pretty much dictated by the garage door layout.

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