Anything in this world that is subject to time and change does far better with care rather than neglect; the equipment that you have purchased for your waterfront is no different. The elements, regardless of where you live, can wreak havoc on the various components of your lift system and taking steps to avoid damage and prolong their life is easier than you might imagine. In our article on canopy care we covered the basics of seasonal removal, care, and storage of your lift canopy. Here, we will discuss the various lift motors that are available and the proper way to store them when the season turns. Primarily this discussion will address those lift owners who deal with seasonal variations (otherwise known as winter) however; we will also discuss what to do if you live in a warmer area with a year-round boating season.
Direct Drive/Worm Drive Motors
Lift-Tech offers boat lift motors with a powerful direct-drive system that enables it to lift some very heavy loads and therefore is built tough with a sealed motor case and plenty of precautions built into its design to withstand the elements, such as sealed motor casings and shrouds. However, guided by our philosophy that all things do better with care, if you live in an area where the weather prevents the regular use of the lift for months at a time, you may want to consider removing and storing the unit. The seals themselves are the concern we are addressing. The case that houses the gears that do the lifting is sealed with heavy duty seals that over time, and the seasonal cold and warm fluctuations, may begin to deteriorate.
The best approach to prolonging the lift of your lift motor is to remove it from the lift and store it for the season. To do this, simply place the lift cradle in the fully down position before removing the motor and reverse the process that you performed in installing it. Once removed, place the motor in a dry place that is free from temperature fluctuations and moisture. Many people use some sort of cover on their motors and this is a reasonable if the weather shifts in your area are not significant. We do not recommend that you place a plastic bag over your motor as this can cause moisture to be trapped within and then affect the motor when the air gets cold.
If your lift motor is chain driven, the removal and storage process will be relatively the same; however, there are additional steps that you can take to ensure that the chain itself lasts. Much like a bike chain, the chain on your lift motor should be inspected and greased seasonally in order to maintain the best performance possible. The Sidewinder motor is a chain driven unit, and much like the Boat lift Boss, has a shroud or protective cover to keep the inner workings safe from the elements. The Sidewinder motor employs a nickel-plated chain that will come pre-greased from the factory, as would any replacement chain. This prevents much of the corrosion that might affect an ungreased chain. If you feel that the chain needs attention you can add a bit to the chain by removing the housing.
Preventative care is essential and in off season conditions the best policy is the removal and storage of the unit as described above. This will ensure that the motor is not exposed to the extreme conditions that exist during the winter months in many parts of the country.
Friction Drive Lift Motor
Friction drive or wheel-to-wheel units operate by using a rubber wheel to turn the original lift wheel on your lift. Some of the most popular units of this design are available from Lift-Mate, ShoreStation, and LiftTech and bring decades of in-the-field development to the design of the motor. These units are very effective and given the nature of their design, are more exposed to the elements than the direct or chain driven units. Most of these units provide an available motor cover to protect the motor itself from the elements; however, the wheel is exposed all the times and as such needs your attention to get the longest life possible. Seasonally you should remove the unit and store as described above. It is possible to extend the life of the rubber wheel by simply removing it in the winter. The temperature variations can cause the rubber to harden and crack and this will diminish its effectiveness in operation and thus shorten its life.
If the type of motor you have on your lift hasn’t been described here, you may take it as a general principle to remove and store the unit seasonally. Beyond this, the best solution for questions is to contact a dealer or the manufacturer for specific questions.