In part one we discussed the diversity of freestanding boat lift motors that are available. The Direct Drive, Worm Drive and Chain Drive options were discussed in detail covering the power source, connection styles and weight capacities. In this part we will discuss the primary alternative to the direct drive; the wheel to wheel or friction drive lift motors. These motors;

  • Are not enclosed like the direct and chain driven units.
  • Use a rubber wheel to apply the necessary force to turn the lift wheel
  • Do not replace the lift wheel but work with it
  • Have both DC and AC power options
  • Range from 5000lb to 7000lb lift capacity


Wheel to Wheel/Friction Drive:

If you decide on a Friction drive motor you will notice that the design and functioning of this unit style differs significantly from the direct and chain driven units. The Friction Drive motor is also known as a wheel to wheel drive unit as the primary aspect that is employed to turn the lift wheel is an 8” rubber wheel. Essentially the rubber wheel, through direct contact with the in-place lift wheel, turns the lift wheel and thus operates the winch and the cable network. As with the direct drive units, these motors are available in DC and AC power options and are designed to work with freestanding, Pontoon and PWC lifts.

    • Lift Mate: The Friction drive unit from Lift Mate™ is a 5000lb. capacity motor, available in either AC or DC options with toggle switch or remote.  The mounting hardware will arrive with the unit and the battery can be augmented through the installation of a solar panel charging kit. This unit is designed to operate with a standard 12v deep-cycle marine battery and comes with the necessary cables to connect the motor to your boat motor or to a stand-alone battery mounted on the dock or lift. The friction drive may prove to be the best option for you specific situation.

    • Shore Riser Universal Wheel Drive: This unit is a very similar to the Lift Mate™ motor. This unit features a 5000lb capacity lift rate, is toggle switch operated and can be connected to a solar power charging kit as well. This Shore Riser can be purchased with AC or DC power options. The DC unit features a “quick connect” cord, making it an easy thing to disconnect or connect your power if you use your boat motor, no more messing around with wrenches to get out on the water. The all aluminum construction is durable and resists the elements, significantly extending the life of the motor.

    • ShoreStationSSDC2/SSAC2: This ShoreStation™ unit boasts a 6000lb lift capacity, all aluminum construction and toggle switch operation. The motor is available in both AC and DC power options and will connect to either the available shore power or your boat battery or stand-alone battery mounted on the dock. The unit comes with the necessary attachment hardware and is easy to install. As with any of the DC motor options, solar power charging kits are available, complete with mounting hardware and battery trays.
    • Lift Tech Marine Wheel Drive: This lift motor from Lift Tech Marine is considered the Friction Drive for the 21st century.  With 7000lbs of lift capacity and the fastest lift time of any friction drive on the market. Featuring a new mounting system and built in spring tensioner, this unit provides greater lift, speed, and safety through a significant reduction in wheel slip that can plague other friction drive options. This unit is toggle switch operated and is available in both DC and AC power.

When you begin your search for a lift motor it is essential that you begin with two key pieces of information; the lift capacity you require and the brand of boat lift you own. The lift capacity can be determined by looking up the specifics of the craft you intend to use on the lift. You should know the dry and loaded weights of your craft as well as the beam width and length. The next step is to determine what brand of lift you own and this is a matter of looking at your owner’s manual, if you do not know, or asking a dealer to look at the unit and help determine the manufacturer. Very often it will be enough to send the dealer images of the lift, especially the winch assembly in order that they can determine the type.

These two essential details, the capacity and brand, will enable you to choose the right lift motor and attachment hardware. The last thing you want is to choose a motor that will not do the job or worse not even attach to your lift. Most of the lift motor options we have discussed are designed to fit “most” lifts, while others are designed to fit free-standing lifts only. If you have a PWC lift or custom built unit, you will have to determine if the lift motor you want is designed to attach to your lift.  Again, in this instance, your best bet is to contact a dealer and allow them to assist you in determining your best option.

© 2013