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The Harken Hoister System is an incredible block & tackle system specifically designed to hoist heavy canoes or kayaks and other items. Everything is included in the kit except for the cross beams should you need them (see online instructions). If you decided to make your own, I doubt whether you could buy all the parts at a cheaper cost (let alone find similar or more functional items).
After carefully studying the instructions, it took less than 1hr 30 mins to have the first system running perfectly for my Hobie Revolution kayak. Here are a few hints that I would like share to help make the job a little easier:
The hardware and ropes that come with this product are top quality. You raise and lower your boat by pulling on only one rope. The hoister has an automatic brake that stops the boat from falling if you let go of the rope.
To get the full 10-foot lift with this product, you must have 10-feet of space in front of the ceiling-mounted "rope organizer". Make sure that you can meet all of the installation requirements before buying. You can call Harken customer service or download the instruction manual if you have any questions.
If you cannot meet the installation requirements to get the full 10-foot lift, you have the option to lower your boat onto saw horses or tripods (not included). Under very specific circumstances, you could raise/lower the boat directly from your car. But that would depend on a number of factors, including the size of your boat and garage and the height of your garage door. If you drive a SUV or minivan, you probably cannot fit under your garage door with a boat on your roof.
You can find cheaper hoisting products, but they may have the following problems:
The directions were clear and material was well made. The eleven page instruction manual was laid out well and easy to follow. The only problem I had was mounting the first board on the finished ceiling of the garage. After that was up the second one went on quickly. Installing the pulleys and ropes was a breeze. The only possible issue would be the attachment of the straps to the hoist ropes. Unless the knots on the ropes for the straps are placed at the same point on the hoist ropes quite a bit of tedious adjusting may be necessary to level the object being hoisted.
Once it's set the hoist is fantastic. It gets the canoe to the ceiling without the hassle of the two rope system. The cam lock works as advertised to hold the rope in place. I don't think I could imagine a better system to get your canoe/kayak out of the way and stored year round.
I think these are great units: easy to use, quick, and rugged. All of mine have metal clips... My bikes go up and down almost every day (at least one of them!) I definitely plan on getting another for my SOF kayak once I get it finished!
I attached the anchor pulley to a side wall rather than the wall opposite the garage door. Whatever wall it is attached to DOES need to be solid enough to hold the weight. The hoist works like a charm. The pulleys have ball bearings, which make for smooth operation. The catch on the pull rope is very well made and seems solid. I highly recommended this product.
In fairness to Harken and their product, this is a limitation of the construction of the garage more than a criticism of their product. The people at Harken were great. My motive in giving this review is not to slam the product or the manufacturer. Rather it is to let potential customers know that they should make sure that there is enough room between the place where the lift will occur and the wall to get the needed lift, and that the garage wall itself is strong enough to hold the weight. In new construction here in South Florida, interior walls constructed of steel studs often have no headers and are not capable of holding any kind of load at all. For example, they can't handle the weight of a plasma TV hung on them and they can't hold the weight of a kayak anchored to them. This type of wall is more of a room divider than a real wall. Obviously this is not Harken's fault, but it precludes using this product.
Harken customer service was superb and they gave me a full refund.
To the person who had problems with the buckles: there's a reason they have weight limitations. For the recommended weight I had on it, it doesn't seem there was any chance those buckles would break and it seems unlikely you'd have two that would break if you weren't doing something wrong.
I do agree with the others though. It's kind of expensive but worth it if you can spare the cash.
As other reviewers say, installation takes some time but when you compare it to the time you'll save not moving the boats around in the garage like you used to have to to make room for bikes and lawnmowers, it's worth it. I just ordered two more hoisters for my road bikes. A great product that, while expensive, is worth it.
Ordering direct was easy and quick. They responded very rapidly to an inquiry about modifying mounting instructions for an unfinished ceiling.
Installation takes a little time to figure out the instructions. There are pictures of it attached to two separate boards spanning the width of the boat. This is easy to do becuaes you measure the location of the lifting eyes on the ground and screw them in. The 2 pulley lifting rope guide mounts in the middle of the rear lifting eyes. Another attachment eye is screwed into the wall of the garage in line with the 2 pulley rope guide. Then it is a simple matter to string the lifting ropes, attach the belly bands under the hull, sdjust them for an even lift, and you're done.
It is simple once you visualize it. Working with someone who can't visualize it will take you twice as long. You have to teach them how it goes.
As an alternate, forget the two boards and screw the lifting eyes directly into the ceiling joists. This works equally well if the ceiling joist run the width of the garage.
If you have a low ceiling as I do, I hang my kayak under the roll up garage door. I am afraid to take it to the ceiling and reaise the door because the door probably doesn't have enough clearance to open under the bottom of the kayak.
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