The LTM Guide to using a winch with your washing line.
Why use a winch?
Using a winch to raise & lower your clothes line can be a great help for those with mobility problems or even those with lots of washing to do!
So in order to help you to select a winch we have put together the following information to guide you through some of the things that you will need to know before you can choose a winch and how to find out that information.
What you will need to know in order to select a winch:
The Lifting Capacity
Or put another way, you need to know how much weight you will be hanging from the line. Each winch is rated to lift a certain capacity, like 50Kg or 80Kg. Most washing lines shouldnt need this much capacity, just make sure that the winch you get is sufficient for your needs. Also bear in mind that if your average dry load is 10Kg then when it is wet it will weigh more than that.
The Winch Drum Capacity
Or how much rope is being wound onto the drum of the Winch. This is easiest to do if you already have an existing line, but it can also be worked out using a tape measure. Using the following diagram, measure lines A, B & C as shown in the diagram.
Line A is your ‘Loading position’ for attaching the washing to the line.
Line B is your ‘drying position’.
Line C is the distance between the pulley and the winch.
A–B+C=the length of rope to be wound onto the drum
A NOTE ABOUT LAYERING: If you have a lot of rope to wind onto the inch, then as the rope winds onto the drum, the rope winds around, layering on top of each other. There is a maximum amount of rope that can be wound onto the first layer, so if you have more rope than the first layer will take, you will start using the second layer, which means that the loading capacity for the winch will be reduced. This is normally not a problem for washing lines, which do not have very high load ratings, but if you are planning to hang a lot of weight from your line, then you need to make sure that this capacity is not exceded.
Things you will need to install your winch
Most importantly, you will need a winch designed for a lifting application. These winches are designed for lifting rather than pulling and have a higher factor of safety built in than a winch designed for pulling. At LTM We always supply them with a self sustaining brake so that when you turn/ wind the handle in either direction the brake automatically engages and holds the load – so you can’t accidentally drop your line full of washing on the floor.
￼Rope should always come straight out of the winch and not be at an angle, so often times you will need a pulley to divert the rope up away from the winch and raise the height of the line. (See point X on the above diagram.) You should make sure that the pulleys you choose are suitable for outdoor use and that they are also rated to the required lifting capacity (see "The Lifting Capacity" above).
We offer a Zinc Plated rope pulley (code PTM-125G ) with a rated load of 125kg and a Polyamide (plastic type) pulley wheel for 2- 4mm diameter wire rope. This can be bolted to a post or a wall using 2 bolts (not supplied).
It's important to note here that normal washing line does not work with winches. The plastic covered fibre ropes that you can buy at the supermarket do not have a rated lifting capacity, so they are not guaranteed to hold the load. This means that they may not be able to hold your load without sagging and if over tightened they could snap.
Lifting winches use steel wire rope that is designed for lifting. In order to prevent rusting and staining of clothes, we reccomend using plastic coated steel wire rope, this can be purchased by the metre, so you can order exactly the amount of rope that you need. This is important because unlike washing line rope, you will likely be unable to shorten this rope yourself without specialist tools, so it is important that you measure the amount that you need correctly.
You can work out how much rope you will need using the above diagram and the following formula:
A + C + 1m
Why 1 metre? Well in truth, it's not 1 metre, the formula is actually A + C + one turn of the drum. That is, 1 length of rope that measures the circumference of the drum should always be left on the drum. In the case of most winches used for this application, 1m should be sufficient to ensure this.
As the rope is steel, you will need to decide what connection you want on the end of the rope that attaches to your wall or post. There are a few options:
Thimble Eye - This is a solid looped end at the end of the rope. If you already have a hook installed onto your wall, you can just get this as a connection and have clip the hook into the thimble.
Hook - If you have a solid fixing point on your wall, then you will need a hook on the end of your rope, this is attached with a thimble eye, as shown in the picture. A stainless steel option is advisable if the hook will be exposed.
What if my winch is outdoors?
Make sure that the winch you are buying is corrosion resistant, this should help prevent the winch from rusting to easily. If the winch is likely to be outside for long periods of time or exposed to particularly harsh weather, you should consider getting zinc plated, galvanised or even stainless steel winches. These are less likely to rust, however they are more expensive than a standard winch. You need to decide where the winch will be placed, how protected it will be from the elements and whether or not you need the extra benefit of a weather-proofed winch.
Your legal responsibilities
It is important to remember that a winch is a lifting item and as such the use of winches for lifting applications comes under the BS: EN 13157 Regulations. This means that you have certain obligations when installing your winches in or around people. This is especially important if you are installing your winch in a public area such as a hospital or school where people may walk under the winch. Winches need to be inspected yearly and you may be required to install a secondary safety system to stop the load from falling in the event of a winch failure.
We offer this advice as a guide. It is the responsibility of the user and/or owner of the winch to ensure that they are in compliance with all regulations when installing and/or using a winch, so if you are in any in doubt about installing and maintaing a winch, you should consult with a qualified lifting engineer for advice.
Ordering your winch online
We recommend the following LTM winches for this type of use, all of which are available to buy online:
Rope and connectors can not be ordered via our website, so once you've seleceted your winch, get in touch to talk to us about your rope and connector options.
As always, if you have any questions or need any additional information, don't hesitate to contact us.
- LTM Guides