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Old 04-28-2013, 10:58 AM   #1
CodeMonkee OP
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Chainsaw winches: Capstan v. reel winch?

I intend to put std. reel electric winches on my trucks (Toyota Hilux and Dodge 3500), but I have other uses for a winch in spots my trucks and even an ATV can't get to (heavily wooded with steep slopes). I may want to winch out large game (pulled a deer out of a ravine once by hand and it was a chore), or winch our a bucked up log for firewood or pull a downed tree off one of the trails on my land, etc.

I know I will need a saw with some power and I intend to get one for other reasons (to run an auger or possibly a mill), but I am torn between whether to get something like the Lewis reel winch or the Simpson capstan winch.

The capstan winch seems more versatile as you can feed a very long synthetic rope through it. About 2:20 in you see what I mean:



Thoughts? Experience?
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:08 PM   #2
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With a number of people to help? Capistan - you can really make the run as long as you can carry practical line - which means lifts of 200 to 250' are certainly possible if you had to.

Heck, there are ways to deal with knots too!
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuel Garcia O'Kely View Post
With a number of people to help? Capistan - you can really make the run as long as you can carry practical line - which means lifts of 200 to 250' are certainly possible if you had to.

Heck, there are ways to deal with knots too!
+1

Capstan requires someone to tail the line, ( well, in general - there is such a thing as a self tailing capstan) but that is the beauty of the thing -- superb control on the pull. Same goes for controlling an outgoing load or braking a line release.

Edit - if you have the option add a chain gypsy to the capstan drum.

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Old 04-29-2013, 07:21 AM   #4
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They should have skinned and cut the moose carcas into smaller pieces and packed them out in back packs. There were enough guys. I've done it over much worse terrain than what they had. Of course I was younger then.
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:27 PM   #5
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Capstan vs Winch

Each one has its strong points from my view. Both have to have straps or rigging to anchor them to a solid object.

Capstan: Unlimited rope length is its key feature. However you need as another poster said someone to work the line on the capstan and you have to have a separate line that is stout enough for its pull. Baileys-online.com sell them, they are NOT cheap. Baileys is a good outfit, big mail order logging etc supply house I buy from them occasionally. They start at $800 and quickly go over 1600. The $800 one uses a chainsaw engine, the others and the one in the video is a Portable Winch Co. PCW-5000 Portable Capstan Winch that I think is about $1300. Nice piece, but you have no rope, and no anchoring. A complete kit is $1900 with rope anchors, etc.

A lewis winch (chainsaw powered) can be run by one person since chainsaws have a throttle lock (at least every one I have ever used or seen does). They are on sale now at Bailey's for $800 plus freight and handling.

Either one is very useful, and can be dangerous. I would recommend Amsteel synthetic rope (blue) which is supposed to be as strong as cable, and much more flexible. The biggest danger of a winch is having the line pull break the line, which does happen and when it does it is ugly.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corsair4360 View Post
A lewis winch (chainsaw powered) can be run by one person since chainsaws have a throttle lock (at least every one I have ever used or seen does). They are on sale now at Bailey's for $800 plus freight and handling.
Several people have made statements which infer a capstan winch needs more than one person to operate it - this is not true; a single person can work it - the person at the winch.

Yes, a person may or may not need to be at the load guiding it - it just depends on what you are pulling and over what terrain - but that is true of a reel winch too.

Now granted, a reel winch could be theoretically work without someone tending it - but unless you have a fairlead on it, you will need someone at the winch, especially if you are not pulling straight into the winch. Even with the fairlead I have seen that you can get for the Lewis, it requires someone at the winch to make sure the cable winds onto the drum correctly - do it wrong and not only will the winch stop, but you will have a real mess on your hands.

Quote:
Either one is very useful, and can be dangerous. I would recommend Amsteel synthetic rope (blue) which is supposed to be as strong as cable, and much more flexible. The biggest danger of a winch is having the line pull break the line, which does happen and when it does it is ugly.
I understand about the cost of the rope and while I didn't mention it I had factored that in because even if I got the Lewis winch I would probably use synthetic rope instead of wire cable.

One thing nobody mentioned is that the rated capacity of a reel winch is with all of the cable on the reel; if you pull out all of the cable so that the drum is empty (or close to it), then the Lewis winch is only rated to pull 2000 pounds, not the 4000 you get when the reel is full - in short, the rated pull capacity varies widely.

From what I can understand, the pull capacity of the capstan winch is mostly limited by the power of the engine turning it, the gearing and the capacity of the line. A larger chainsaw will be able to pull more weight with the same gearing - up to the load strength of the line. There is synthetic rope that will fit on the capstan winch that can handle a load up to or over 4 tons, and if you take enough turns on the capstan the rope will not slip - it may break somewhere, but it won't slip, and you can pull as much as the power source (and gears) can handle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capstan_equation

That said, it is interesting that the chainsaw capstan winch has much higher gearing than the one that comes with the Honda engine - 125:1 v. 225:1 for the latter.

Simpson says the winch is for chainsaws 3.5 CI or smaller whereas the chainsaw I am looking at (Stihl 461) is 4.7 CI - I think it would be okay though if I was careful to not use the full power of the chainsaw.

As maybe you can tell, I am leaning towards the capstan winch. Like I said I will have reel winches on my trucks, and I am thinking that the versatility (especially the virtual infinite pull length) and fine control of the capstan winch would be more useful for my purposes.
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