At the front of the boat trailer is a winch system that helps load and unload a boat. Obviously, boats are too heavy to be pushed or shoved off, even by a host of strong men. A winch is needed to do this job, pulling with a rating of as much as 2,500 lbs or even higher.
Winch systems come in different variants, and may be classified according to three major components: gear system, crank type, and drum type.
Typical gear systems include the single and two-speed gear. The single-speed gear is simple to use—crank and go—and has a load rating of between 400 and 2,100 lbs. The two-speed gear can switch between low and high-speed cranking. The low-speed configuration allows greater loads--between 1,600 and 3,700 lbs--to be pulled with ease.
The standard hand crank is the most versatile type of cranking system for winches. It can work with most gear systems in loading and unloading a boat. A ratchet crank is more portable, but is not recommended for anything other than incline pulling.
The single and split reels are two known drum types. The single reel focuses the pulling power on one line, requiring a sturdy winch strap. A split reel, on the other hand, allows pulling from two directions.