Most winches are slow electric powered retrieval devices, a wake winch is a gas powered, high speed mechanical device used to tow a rider from one point to another. Typically they are used by wakeboarders and wakeskaters who want to reach areas that are not accessible by boat or ski but are also used in other action sports such as snowboarding and are catching on in other sports arenas.
Since this is a photo Instructable I figured I’d better link to another Instructable on how to build one for those who want to get into winching. Click HERE for a winch Instructable. Please remember these devices are powerful and capable of high speeds and should be used with caution, safety first!
Ok now for the fun stuff!
FRAME: For my frame I wanted to get away from the standard of using steel and boxy shapes. Steel square tubing is cheap and easy to work but is also heavy and limiting from a design perspective. I went with round aluminum tubing. Aluminum is light, rust resistant (for those fun beach runs) and shines up nicely in the sun. I bent the tube on a borrowed hydraulic roller and came up with a design that looks like a boat tower on a ski boat, I feel it relates to the roots of wake sports.
SPOOL:Instead of using an old go kart wheel hub or spare parts I fashioned my spool out of aluminum and cut it on a CNC. The various holes give me different diameters for the line to go on, different diameters allow the rider flexibility in tow options.
LINE: High tensile strength and low specific gravity are the two most important factors when choosing line, this way its strong and floats. Spectra or Dyneema are two types that fit the bill. I ordered mine from over seas and saved a few bucks.
POWER: While I started out with the traditional 6.5 hp engine I went up to 9hp Robin Subaru engine for more RPM’s , power and longer engine life. Many builders make a transmission system out of a centrifugal clutch, sprockets, bearings and chain but I chose to go with a Torq a verter from Comet Industries (also called TAV2 or CVT). Again not the most cost effective choice but as far as performance goes it cant be beat. Make sure and get one that matches your engine bore size.
RIDE: The last photo is of my friend Jason charging a river gap using the winch while I am operating it. We named our winch “THE CLUTCH” and You can see the first version of my winch in action HERE on youtube.
OVERALL SPECS: My device weighs about 80 lbs (mostly 9hp engine weight) is capable of pulling a 240 pound rider at 24mph and can do deep water starts. If you shop carefully and use basic parts you can expect to spend between $600 - $900 US dollars to build one. (Much more if you choose to get crazy with materials like I did!)
Hope you like what I came up with and I look forward to seeing others push the envelope. Get out there start building and catch some great action pics!