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I'm almost-nearly-started on installing a bunch of motorized ceiling-storage platforms in my garage. I was researching which winch/hoist to buy when I realized that I'd rather not buy one electric winch motor per platform.

Is there a gearbox of some sort where I could hook up a single motor to a half-dozen (or so) reels, and select which reel gets rotated? I would hook each reel up to one ceiling-storage platform. Each reel would have to have a brake of its own, so when it's not engaged, it doesn't rotate. (The stuff on the ceiling needs to stay on the ceiling when the motor isn't hooked up to it.)

Edit: I don't have access to a machine shop. I'm trying to figure out if it's cheaper to go for the gearbox, or just one winch per platform (at around $75 each). I'll build the platform and set up the pulleys myself. I figure that each platform + stuff will weigh around 200 pounds, and the current plan will have enough pulleys to have a 4:1 lift ratio. (I'm going to use a single cable that goes back and forth to the ceiling several times, for stability.)

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How much weight are you lifting? How much money are you willing to spend? Do you have access to a machine shop, to fabricate parts? –  Tester101 Dec 20 '11 at 13:13
    
Looking at the rear wheel of a 10 speed bike, may provide some inspiration. –  Tester101 Dec 20 '11 at 13:18
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

At 4:1, 200 lbs should not be difficult to lift by hand. Save yourself the $75 and just buy a rope cleat to secure the lift cable.

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+1 Simple is always a good solution. Though even at 4:1, it's more work than pushing a button. –  Tester101 Dec 21 '11 at 21:41
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I have two of these Racor Heavy Lifts in my garage now. I also had one in my old house. They now have a rod that you can connect to a drill to raise and lower the platforms. At $127 they are very affordable and work quite well. I store my lawnmower on it in the winter and the snowblower on it in the summer along with some other items that are not used very often like my wheelbarrow. enter image description here enter image description here

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Official Racor site. –  Tester101 Dec 21 '11 at 21:14
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The first thing that comes to mind for me, would be to attach multiple gears to a long axle driven by a motor. Since you don't want to drive all the winches at once, you'd have to devise a way for the axle to spin independently of each gear. So the first pieces you'd need are gears with collars, that would fit just over the axle.

enter image description here

Putting a hole in the collar, would give you a way to engage the axle and make the gear spin with it. So you'd need some type of "pin" to fit in the hole, and connect to the axle. The idea here is that when the "pin" is not engaged, the axle would spin while the gear slips and stays stationary. Engaging the "pin", would cause axle and gear to spin together.

enter image description here

The next thing you'd need is some type of spacers, to prevent the gears from sliding along the length of the axle. This will allow you to have multiple gears along the axle, while keeping them each in place and engaged with the gear on the reels.

For each cable you want to control, you'll need a winch with a gear like this.

enter image description here

Just remove the handle, and have the gear on the axle engage the gear on the winch. These type of winches should already have a locking mechanism, that prevents the cable from coming unwound. So once you raise the load, you shouldn't have to worry about it falling.

You should be able to add as many gears as you need to the axle, so you can control each winch independently.

enter image description here

Keep in mind this is just a basic idea; there are surely design flaws that would need to be worked out, but it might be enough to spark your creativity.

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