Our winches may look ordinary, but they have several features that make them much better than others
Below is a picture of our most popular winch, the 2000 foot capacity winch with 3/16 wire. They have a very heavy drum to prevent the drum spreading or cracking from the pressure of the cable. We started using this design in 1996, and we have now made hundreds of them. Our designs come from a lot of experience.
“The solutions are simple…after you have already arrived at them. But they’re simple only when you already know what they are“ (Robert Pirsig)
One of the key features of this winch is the alloy steel splined hub that is bolted to the drum. This hub can quickly be replaced when the splines wear out. On many other winches, when the splines wear out the drum must be re machined. This can cause a lot of down time, or even lost holes. Many winches only have a key in mild steel that must hold all the torque and shock. Also, both ends of the drum on our winches are supported by bearings that are re-greaseable, and self-aligning. Some other winches do not have re-greaseable bearings. Others have no bearings at the motor end, which puts much more load on the motor shaft. Some winches require careful shimming and alignment of the drum to prevent shaft wear.
Our winch can easily be rebuilt with new bearings in less than an hour. On some other winches, special tools are required and rebuilding can take almost eight hours. The bearings on our winches normally last for years anyway, because they are re-greaseable. When a winch with non-re-greaseable sealed bearings is used underground in a mine where the water is acidic, often the bearings will not last one year.
This winch can be made with larger or smaller drums as well, depending on what you need.
The hidden feature of this winch is in the hydraulic motor. The motors we use have a built-in cushion valve. This prevents shock loads from breaking the hydraulic motor shaft. This is a feature not seen on other wireline winches. It should be a feature of every winch. It is fine to tell the driller to be careful not to stop the winch too fast, but we know that won’t work, so we use the built-in cushion valve. Then the driller can do what he wants, and the shaft is protected from breakage.
Level Wind Winches
Many diamond drilling companies are now starting to use winches with level winders or spoolers to put the cable perfectly on the winch drum. In some cases, this is now a required safety feature. The wireline cable must be one of the most dangerous parts of the drill and having a spooler reduces the danger.
We have been making level wind winches since 2003. The one we make uses a special screw called a ball reverser screw to move the fairlead back and forth in synchronization with the drum. This screw is made of very hard steel. Even when the winch goes fast, the screw turns slow. The fairlead is pushed by a nut on the screw that has three ball bearings inside. The ball bearings never break and are cheap to replace when they wear. Most other level winders use a blade type follower that is quite easy to break. The screw is driven by a small chain under the aluminum cover. The fairlead on our winch can be adjusted to different angles depending on the vertical angle to the sheave wheel. The fairlead has only two rollers instead of the usual four. The ones we use are much larger in diameter and have a V shape. We actually use cam follower bearings, but they work really well as a fairlead, and are easier on the cable. The rollers are also very hard steel and do not wear. There is a mechanism that allows the screw to be turned independently of the drum if the follower needs to be re-synchronized with the cable on the drum.
Below is a picture of one of our level wind winches. You can see the screw, which has a different shape than the type that uses the blade follower. The rounded profile groove makes it much tougher than the usual rectangular groove. You can also see the fairlead. This fairlead is better for the high speed of the wireline cable than the typical type that has tiny rollers made from soft steel.
Sometimes a smaller winch is required, for a small lower capacity drill. Below is a picture of the winch we use on our 50 HP Gopher Underground Drill. It can hold 900 feet of 3/16 wireline cable. It has stationary disks that encircle the drum to prevent the cable from jumping off. This little winch has no bearings except the ones in the hydraulic motor. The motor is a wheel motor so it has a sturdy shaft and bearings.
We also have an even smaller winch with an aluminum drum for drills with a capacity of 300 feet or less.