The SuperTow Hydraulic Payout winch is familiar to many pilots in it's most basic form. It is a well proven design that has withstood the test of many years, and it has been updated with newer manufacturing techniques and components. Originally designed and sold by Ed Pittman, many of the original winches are still in use and going strong. With input from many sources, notably from such knowledgeable sources as Ed Pittman himself, and Enleau SAT O'Conner of Pro Tow fame, this winch has been redesigned and works even better than the original.
There are many styles of payout winches available on the market, but most are made in basements and garages, and are designed to be built as cheaply as possible without regard to longevity and optimum system performance. We have upgraded the design to support the needs of virtually any pilot or towing operation. The design of our winches has been optimized through the use of Computer aided design and drafting software. The CAD drawings are then run through a software program that optimizes toolpaths for our Computerized machining centers to produce the highest quality parts at the least cost. All of our winches are made in a manufacturing facility using state of the art equipment and all winches are tested and assembled in house. Construction of our winches starts by cutting many of the frame parts on a computerized plasma cutting table. Components are then machined as required in our CNC machining centers and CNC lathes. Finally, the components are assembled in a jig, and MIG welded by certified welders. What this means to you is that each of the winches is made to very high quality standards, and tolerances. Using CNC equipment allows us to produce components of the highest tolerances (typically within 0.0005 ") so that parts are interchangeable from one winch to the next. If you ever need a part or an upgrade part, you can be assured that the part you receive will fit, right out of the box, guaranteed. Winches are typically in stock, and we carry a full line of parts and accessories should they ever be required.
Take a look at the following photos, and we'll discuss how the winch is designed to function:
The rig above is owned by Brad and Maren from Paradventures in the SW corner of Washington State. You can find them at www.discover paragliding.com. They use towing extensively as an integral part of their school, and were so impressed with the winches potential and performance that they chose to mount it permanently in their truck. Permanently is a relative term, since it comes out by simply removing 4 bolts, although they did cut a hole in their canopy to run the tracking head / line guide up through. A very slick installation that works extremely well.
Here's all it takes to get into towing over the water. An older 16 foot boat with a 90 HP outboard motor that is capable of speeds around 34 M.P.H. You can find them all over for under $3000. Note the tracking head sticking up above the boat. There is a swivel mounted on the top that allows the line to freely swing 360 degrees around the head. It is high enough to make it unlikely to get tangled with the operator or passenger, and the free swiveling action prevents entanglements and makes circle towing in small lakes a breeze.
Here you can see a couple different views of our standard winch mounted in the boat. The 2" tubing framework is 22" wide by 50" long, and the corner that supports the tracking head extends up 34". The drum mounts on a hydraulic motor in the upper left corner of the frame and extends 3 1/2" out from the side of the frame and 8" off one end. The standard version shown is a complete system that easily mounts in the back of a pickup, on a boat, or other vehicle. It is held in place by 4 bolts, one on each corner. Provisions have been made in the design to allow for easy mounting by including slotted mounting locations as well as individual bolt holes on all corners. Note the picking eyes welded to the frame. The winch isn't particularly heavy, but at around 300 pounds it's a lot easier to use a hoist to lift it that your back.
Operation is simplicity itself, which is what makes this winch design so reliable. A 12 1/2 gallon tank contains hydraulic fluid. This fluid flows to a hydraulic motor with a drum directly attached to the output shaft. 5500' of 1100 # test Spectra line is wound on the drum, and the line routes through a pulley, up to the tracking head swivel, and then out to the pilot, who is attached to the line through a drogue parachute (held collapsed under line tension) a weak link, and a release system. When the pilot is ready to launch, the tow vehicle or vessel accelerates away from the pilot at a speed around 25 M.P.H. and the hydraulic fluid flows freely from the tank, through the motor and back to the tank through an oil cooler. There is no tension on the towline at this point. Once the pilot has their glider cleanly overhead, the tow technician rotates a knob on the winch control panel which causes a restriction in the fluid flow from the motor back to the tank. This in turn causes the hydraulic system pressure to rise, increasing the resistive torque on the motor and hence builds tension in the towline. As the tension rises, the pilot is gradually and smoothly pulled into the air. Once the pilot is safely airborne, the tow technician adjusts the hydraulic system pressure to a predetermined value, which will cause a constant tension on the towline. As the tow continues the pilot pulls line off the winch, while the vehicle moves forward, and consequently climbs smoothly away from the earth. Flying through a thermal or wind gradient has no effect on the tow tension because it is automatically controlled. Rather than getting big surges with every bump, or gust, the line simply spools off faster or slower, which affects the climb rate slightly, but allows nice smooth tows to altitude. Once the pilot has reached the altitude desired, the rewind motor is started up, the pilot releases, and the motor turns a hydraulic pump which rotates the drum in the opposite direction, causing the line to rewind. The parachute on the end of the line that was hooked to the pilot is no longer under tension, so it inflates causing tension on the towline to make a nice tidy rewind and preventing the line from landing in a less than opportune location. Simplicity itself, isn't it.
This system doesn't use a level wind because it is simply not needed. The winch drum is only 1.9" wide and has a diameter of 28". It can hold up to 6500 feet of line, and because it is so skinny, and the line is rewound under tension, it stacks very neatly and tightly on the drum. Once the pilot is safely off the ground the system tension is set, and essentially will remain unchanged during the flight. O/K, the technically minded will note that the torque on the system has to change as the line spools off the drum, and the effective line diameter is reduced. In theory it would require the operator to reduce system pressure as the torque increases with a decreasing line diameter. After extensive testing and simulations, we determined the final drum size for a very specific reason. It is the same reason we use a very high quality towline, manufactured specifically to our specifications. As the line length increases, the drag imposed on the line by moving through the air also increases. By sizing the components to compensate for this effect, we were able to perfectly balance the flight loads, drag, and torque loads so that once set, the system pressure never needs to be changed. Simplicity of operation and reliability were high on our list of design criteria, and you will be very happy with the results.
Here's a couple photos of some customers who have made pretty slick installations in their boats. The blue Capri is owned my Midnight Sun Paragliding and operates out of Alaska. The other boat is operated by ProTow and the picture just happens to show our favorite winch operator, Ann O'Conner. This lady is one heck of a fine pilot, and when you get on the other end of the towline, it would be hard to find a more experienced Tow Tech. She gives some of the best, smoothest rides aloft with absolute precision.
Please note that these winches will ONLY be sold to qualified individuals or schools. Prior to purchase, the purchaser must fill out completely and sign a release of liability / hold harmless agreement. The purchaser must also be a USHGA certified Tow Administrator, Tow Technician, or have an equivalent amount of experience or qualifications.
To help in planning installation in your existing vehicle, here is a .pdf file of the TOP VIEW of the winch frame and clearance dimensions, as well as a SIDE VIEW of the winch. Please note that the standard tracking head is 60" tall, but can be made in a variety of sizes.
Our SuperTow winch is certainly not the cheapest winch, but quality and performance rarely is attainable for the lowest price. It is, however, one of the most reliable winches available. This is why operators who make their living towing pilots aloft choose to use our system. It can do back to back solo or tandem tows all day long without cavitating or overheating, and it will run for thousands of tows with minimal or no maintenance. Particularly important is the fact that operators find the SuperTow winch incredibly easy to operate and dial in properly for pilots of widely ranging skill or weight levels. This allows for stress free operation and maximizes the safety of the operation, especially at the end of a long towing day. Pilots love our winches because they provide one of the smoothest tows available with minimal surging on tow.
The Standard SuperTow Hydraulic Payout Winch includes the following:
6.5 HP manual start Honda motor with 11 GPM 2 stage rewind pump
12.5 gallon hydraulic oil tank with integral strainer
15 GPM hydraulic oil cooler
64" tall tracking head with 360 degree swivel
CNC machined, aluminum, ventilated line drum with taper lock hub mounting system
All required hydraulic components, hoses, gauge, main system relief valve, piloted relief valve, check valves, etc.
Winch mounting blocks
Please Note: The recent spat of tariffs and import restrictions has placed the supply of raw materials at a premium and the costs of these materials has skyrocketed. The cost the steel used in the frames, tanks, and hardware has more than doubled in the last 3 months, and at least for the short term has shown no signs of dropping. Not to be outdone, the non ferrous suppliers have reacted by raising the costs of aluminum and stainless steel, which ensures that any product made from these materials becomes more expensive as well. Virtually all of our suppliers have added material surcharges to the raw materials we use to construct our winches, and the component suppliers have done the same to cover the increased costs passed on to them by their suppliers for materials and fuel to ship those goods around the country. At TowMeUp.com we were aware of the rapidly rising costs of materials and stockpiled supplies early in an attempt to minimize the impact on the cost of our products to you, our customers. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a temporary spike in prices has lasted to the point where we are now forced to align our pricing with current market realities. Our winches are priced very competitively (to the point where it is far cheaper to buy a completed winch from us, rather than purchase all the individual components and build your own). Faced with the option of either reducing the quality of our product, or adding a materials surcharge ourselves, we have elected to add a materials surcharge to the cost of our winch that fluctuates with the market realities on the day your winch is ordered. As of today the materials surcharge amounts to $420.00 for a standard SuperTow Hydraulic Winch. Please understand that this amount fluctuates weekly, but that we are also purchasing in quantity when possible to help reduce our actual costs. Contact us for an exact quote on the system of your choice.
Standard SuperTow Hydraulic Payout Winch including the above items Retail Price is $6875.00
If purchased with the winch, the following additional items are also available for the following prices:
5500' of Stretched synthetic spectra towline, continuous 500' red - 4500' white - 500' red, $810.00
5 foot diameter ventilated, stabilized drogue chute, $75.00
The following optional items are also available to customize and improve on the rewind performance of the standard winch:
Upgrade to 30 GPM oil cooler, $195
Upgrade to 11 HP Honda w/ electric start $510
Upgrade to 13 HP Honda w/ electric start and 16 or 22 GPM pump $825
Console swivel $80
Clutch pump option with check valves and couplers $260
Clutch pump installed in tow vehicle, please call for pricing and availability.
SuperTow Winch Leases
Need an extra winch for an event, or don't want to buy one yet? TowMeUp.com offers leases / rentals on the self contained standard version of the SuperTow Hydraulic Payout Winch to qualified operators on the following terms:
All prospective Lessee's or renters must submit a fully completed credit application, and the information contained on the report will be verified by an independant credit reporting agency. The completed report must be accompanied by a $35 application fee, which will be credited towards the cost of the first months lease / rental. If your credit does not meet the requirements of TowMeUp.com additional security may be required, or TowMeUp.com may choose not to lease / rent a winch to an individual or company. In either case TowMeUp.com will retain the $35 application fee, which covers our costs of having the credit check completed. In addition, the Lessee / Renter must provide, or purchase their own tow vehicle, towline, drogue chutes, and weak links. A $500 damage deposit is required and will be refunded in full upon return of the winch if it is returned clean, and in good working order.
Rental Rates are as follows:
1 year annual lease : $375 / mo
Month to month rental: $ 565 / mo
Weekly Rental: $195 /wk
We typically have 3 or 4 winches available on lease, but demand is high during certain times of the year, so scheduling a winch lease as far in advance of your planned event as possible is a really good idea. Depending upon availability, TowMeUp.com can also provide rentals of winches in land vehicles, or tow boats, with, or without an experienced operator. Please call for pricing and availability.
For those who choose to lease a winch, and then decide they would rather own their own. TowMeUp.com offers a credit of 1/2 the lease or rental payment up to a maximum of $500 off the cost of a new or used (when available) winch when purchased within the first 60 days.
For those who need to lease a winch for a specific event, and don't want to come pick up and return the winch, we can also arrange to ship one of our winches to and from your event. We have shipping crates designed to easily accommodate our winch and tracking head assembly. Our standard winch weighs 334 pounds, with fluid, ready to tow. The shipping crate typically weighs an additional 130 pounds, for a total shipping weight of 464 pounds. We can arrange for shipping, or you can use your own shipper, broker, or freight forwarder. To calculate shipping costs we suggest you let them know it will be shipped in a forklift compatible wood crate 30" x 54" x 36" tall with a weight of 500 pounds. Your lease/rental rate will be charged from the time the winch leaves our shipping dock, until it is returned. We ship worldwide for special events, but events outside the US require a significant deposit. Please contact us for pricing and availability.
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This Page last updated 04 June 2004 Copyright TowMeUp.com All Rights Reserved