Winch

A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in (wind up) or let out (wind out) or otherwise adjust the tension of a rope or wire rope (also called "cable" or "wire cable").

Self-tailing winch on a sailboat. A sheet line runs from the sail (left, not shown) to a block (lower right, not shown) and from there to the lower part of the winch. The handle is detachable to ease line handling.

In its simplest form, it consists of a spool (or drum) attached to a hand crank. Winches are the basis of such machines as tow trucks, steam shovels and elevators. More complex designs have gear assemblies and can be powered by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or internal combustion drives. It might include a solenoid brake and/or a mechanical brake or ratchet and pawl which prevents it unwinding unless the pawl is retracted. The rope may be stored on the winch. When trimming a line on a sailboat, the crew member turns the winch handle with one hand, while tailing (pulling on the loose tail end) with the other to maintain tension on the turns. Some winches have a "stripper" or cleat to maintain tension. These are known as "self-tailing" winches.[1]