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With such a huge range of hardware out there, the Harken Tech Team would like to help untangle the different options available. Every month we will be producing a product focus article, giving advice on how to pick the right hardware for the job. This month, we look at our Radial winch range. In 2009, Harken completely redesigned the standard winch offering, creating a new breed of winch to replace the Classic range. Here, the Tech Team explains the features that make the Radial winches as efficient and reliable as they are.

When redesigning the old Classic winches, the Harken engineers wanted to achieve a few things:

  • Creating a strong and reliable winch, that was much more lightweight than its predecessors and prevented line wear.
  • It also needed to be simpler to install, service and convert to an electric powered winch.
  • Finally, it had to cater for every type of sailor, and be suitable for both cruising and racing. 

Key Features of Radial Winches

  • Lightweight and Simple: Internally, the number of individual parts within the winch has reduced, and the materials used have changed from cast bronze housing and gears, to aluminium housing, stainless steel gears and composite bearings. This means Radial winches are drastically lighter in weight than their Classic counterparts, achieving weight savings of 25 to 50%. Additionally, where they can be, parts are captive so that there is no chance to lose them overboard when servicing. The ratchets in the gears are now symmetrical for mistake free reassembly. 
  • Innovative Grip Solution: Radial winch drums feature non-abrasive diagonal ribs on the gripping surface, which provide safer handling and maximum holding power, whilst also reducing line wear. The angle of the ribs drives the line wraps down the drum to reduce the risk of a riding turn. The chrome drums have a higher number of ribs due to the more slippery finish. 
  • Power-Grip Jaws: The power-grip sprung lower jaw adjusts under pressure and ensures optimum hold for a range of line sizes. The jaws are shaped to allow easy line entry and feature teeth which grip evenly with or without load. 
  • Integrated Stripper Arm: Radial winches also feature an integrated stripper arm which completely covers the rotating winch top so helps to prevent fingers or loose clothing from catching in moving parts. It can be adjusted to multiple positions to optimise line entry and exit and is shaped to smoothly feed the line in and out of the jaws.
  • Easy to Convert to Power: When designing the winch, the engineers wanted to ensure that converting a manual Radial to an electric would be very easy. Inside the winch only the central shaft is changed, then the motor is bolted onto the underside of the winch into pre-drilled holes. 
  • Single Person Installation: The bolt heads are held captive in the winch base so that one person can install each winch, wherever it is on the boat. There is no need to remove the drum for installation as the bolts can be slid into place by removing the skirt. 

Winch Handles

A range of different winch handles are available in 8 or 10 inches and multiple finishes, with different grip options. SpeedGrip handles allow for low-load high-speed cranking using the palm, but are still suitable for powerful double-handed grinding when loads are higher.

To lock in and out of the winch quicker and more easily, the Carbo OneTouch winch handle features a 'grab bar' that runs the length of the handle, for the operator to squeeze to unlock and release for a secure lock. It is made predominantly from the same tough material as our Carbo block range - a fibre-reinforced composite which is UV stabilised - so is lightweight but remains strong.

FUN FACT: Bear in mind that the published power ratio of a winch (the “number” of the winch) is based on using a 10-inch handle. If you choose an 8-inch handle, your mechanical advantage is reduced by 20%. In the case of a 40 winch, in the most powerful gear, your power is reduced from 40:1 to 32:1.

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