Owning a boat lift is a convenient way to get your vessel in and out of the water, protect the hull when docked, and generally make your boating experience more enjoyable. But as with any mechanical system exposed to the elements, general wear and tear can take its toll over time. One common maintenance issue for boat lifts is frayed, kinked, or broken lift cables. Instead of calling a marine repair company, these cables can often be replaced yourself, saving hundreds of dollars. Here are some tips for DIY boat lift cable replacement. Check out the Best info about boat lifts near Table Rock Lake.
Assess the Damage
The first step is to inspect your lift and determine where the cables have failed. Cables may snap halfway up the guide posts, fray near pulleys, causing slippage, or develop kinks that jam the system. Make a note of any pulleys that feel seized up or frozen. You’ll need to address both the cables and any damaged pulleys during your repair.
Purchase Replacement Cables
Once you’ve identified which cables require replacing, purchase new ones made of the same material and strength as your original cables. Most boat lift cables use stainless steel 7×19 wire rope. Measure the length you need and choose a reputable marine supplier. Make sure any splices use compression sleeves or swaged fittings to avoid weak points. You may also need to purchase replacement pulleys if the old ones are badly corroded.
Prep the Area
Before swapping out lift cables, inspect the entire system. Remove any dirt, salt, grime, or marine growth around pulleys and sheaves. Lightly grease axles and lubricate moving parts to prepare for smooth operation. If any details are unsalvageable due to rust or wear, replace them now. A clean, lubricated system will extend the life of new cables.
De-tension the Lift
With the lift lowered and your boat removed, detach any hydraulic or mechanical tension from the old cables before removal. This may involve disengaging a locking mechanism or carefully releasing tension by hand. Refer to your manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for proper de-tensioning. Removing cables under load can be dangerous.
Swap out Damaged Cables
Once safely de-tensioned, detach the crimped ends or swaged fittings to remove damaged cables from pulleys and sheaves entirely. Please take note of how existing cables are routed and oriented before pulling them out completely. Then, feed your new stainless steel cables through the pulleys. Use swaged fittings to secure the ends just like the originals.
Re-tension and Test
With all new cables installed, apply tension following instructions to approximately 200 lbs. This allows lines to sit and align appropriately in the sheaves. Engage any tension locks to hold them taut. Then, conduct a few test cycles, raising and lowering the empty lift cradle to confirm smooth operation before reloading your boat. Listen for squeaking pulleys or cable-jumping tracks. Make any final adjustments needed.
Even high-quality stainless cables will eventually require replacement, especially if exposed to salty marine environments. Help extend their lifespan by washing down cables and lubricating pulleys monthly to prevent corrosion. Look for fraying annually and replace lines at the first sign of damage. Following safe DIY repair procedures will save hundreds of dollars compared to professional lift cable replacement. Just take care to de-tension cables properly and mimic the original routing.