We’ve always assumed that the maximum rated load was usable for an extended period of time. We’ve kedged ourselves out of trouble, and ground in a lot of highly loaded sheets in heavy weather without problems. However, while doing our drogue testing last month, our Lewmar #66 winch cut out. This is a unit rated at 3000 pounds pull.
Checking the circuit breaker showed this was fine, so we assumed there must be a thermal overload protector on the motor. A call to our local Lewmar guru, Bob Davidson, confirmed this. We assumed this could be removed and was more a CYA device than something which was required, and we asked Bob to double-check with the factory. He came back with a reply that we could remove it, but there was high risk of burning up the motor if we did.
To be fair, we had both engines at slow ahead while we were grinding in lots of rode – to simulate real-world conditions where we’d be retrieving drogues in a moderating gale. We ended up dragging in the last drogue by hand, with Steve backing down to remove load, and two of our helpers doing the pulling. This was not a big deal given the help, but if it were just two of us, it would be a lot harder.
What we are not sure of in this experience is how much impact there was from a build-up of heat from all the prior rode retrievals (something we would not see in the real world). To find out we are going to re-test drogue retrieval again.
And when the time comes to use this winch to kedge us off a grounding, we’ll use it intermittently, to allow for some cooling.
Otherwise, if you want to be certain of winch rating over long periods, hydraulic drives are the answer.