Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Trends in Deck Machinery


Brad Tibbs, Integrity Machining

A new seine winch by Kolstrand, equipped with standard emergency stop, offers the same performance at almost half the cose of a larger winch.

With tough economic times, many fishermen are opting to repair, rather than replace, deck machinery. In spite of this, equipment manufacturers are still developing new features and new pieces of equipment to make fishing more efficient, more profitable and safer.

Big Features, Small Package

Seattle's Kolstrand Marine Equipment recently released a new purse winch that matches the performance of the company's $48,000 top-end winch at a price of only $26,000. The new winch is ideally suited to smaller boats, and Brad Tibbs, machinist and equipment technician at Integrity Machining that builds the Kolstrand product says the prototype was a great success.

"We built a prototype last year and took it out fishing in Prince William Sound," he says. "The responses from those around it, as well as the crew that were fishing it were outstanding."

Tibbs is the sales engineer and one of the lead designers of the equipment, and goes out regularly on fishing trips to test the products and to design new products based on the needs of the fishermen.

"We pride our selves on building equipment exactly the way they want it," he says. "We have a core group of fishermen, and I bring my laptop, and we'll add or remove features to tailor the machinery to the job."

The winch is a bit smaller, to suit smaller boats, but retains the features of the larger winches, including the emergency stop button found on all the Kolstrand purse winches.

"We redesigned the e-stop system this year," he says. "It's standard equipment."

Tibbs says adding the e-stop to all the winches makes the winch quite a bit more expensive that those of his competitors, but doesn't doubt the added safety provided by the ability to instantly stop the machine makes the extra cost worthwhile.

Another new product from Kolstrand is a new safety hook.

"We've been developing it for two years," Tibbs says. "It's all forged, heat-treated stainless steel and carries an international CE rating for overhead lifting."

The new hook, currently available in 3/8-inch size with a a 7,000-lb lifting capacity, is suitable for seiners, trawlers and crabbers, or any fishery where dependability and safety are paramount.

"It's the only hook of its kind in the world," Tibbs says.

Stainless Line

Yaquina Boat Equipment, in Toledo, Oregon, builds and services hydraulic deck equipment, including trawl winches, net reels, king crab blocks, anchor winches, pot launchers, conveyor systems, articulating sorting tables and articulating davits.

General manager Doug Alldridge says this year the company is offering a line of products in all type 316 stainless steel housings, some of which were seen at the recent Pacific Marine Expo.

"We've been using 304 stainless for the housings on anchor winches for years," he says, and the company's bait choppers have been completely stainless for some time as well.

"This year we've added 316 stainless housings as an option on our seine winches, capstans and crab blocks, to name a few."

Yaquina also offers 304 stainless shrimp booms and outriggers. "We have three sets starting construction right now," he says.

There are, however, some considerations to be made when it comes to designing structures like booms and outriggers using stainless steel.  

Stainless is more expensive than the traditional hot-dipped galvanized product. Stainless steel outriggers, for example, might cost a few thousand dollars more than hot-dipped galvanized, but Alldridge says the benefit of stainless is invulnerability to rust and staining. Yearly maintenance costs plummet as many hours are spent fighting the ever present rust that appears at any nick or scrape from the cable stays.

"If in doubt, stainless throughout," he says.

Shrimp doors, too are offered in stainless steel. "We use 304 stainless for those," he says. "They don't stay shiny, like 316, but they're a good alternative to regular steel, doors, which tend to flake rust."

The company is building quite a bit of shrimp gear for the West Coast. "Shrimp is really big right now in Washington and Oregon, Alldridge says, "and next spring we're going to be really busy outfitting the West Coast shrimpers."

Trawl Winch Levelwind

Spooling (or level winding) of a winch is somewhat of an art form," says Bjarni Valgeirsson, US regional manager for Naust Marine. "You can make all the calculations correct and your chain gearing is spot on according to the diameter of wire you have, but for some reason it is skewed a bit once spooled on the drum."

This skewing can be caused by several factors, he says, such as a slight discrepancy in specified diameter and actual diameter of wire, recently switching wire manufacturers or a splice in the wire. Even the placement of the winch on the vessel makes a difference. Not every installation sees these problems, but they are well documented and can cause real trouble in some cases, including a reduction in wire life and even wire snapping.

Valgeirsson says electric level winding can address all these problems with the touch of a button.

"Whether you enter the spooling mechanism on the chain or directly on the diamond shaft, it's a fairly simple retrofit," he says. On all new trawl winches from Naust Marine, the electric levelwind comes as a standard, integrated into the autotrawl system (ATW). More recently, Netsounder winches are becoming increasingly popular for electric levelwinds (ESG – Electrical Spooling Gear). Having that setup enables the user to have multiple options for signal cabling, changing from steel wire to synthetic, trying out new armor coatings etc.

"Just tell the interface in the wheelhouse what diameter you're planning to use and the speed of the carriage will adjust accordingly," Valgeirsson says. "No mechanical changes needed."


Kinematics Marine Equipment in Marysville, Washington a new twist on hydraulic wheel drives for gillnet drums. Owner Ed Luttrell says this drive does something his clients have been asking for: It freewheels.

The Twister wheel drive is built specifically for gillnet drums, and as a result, It freewheels better than the competition, plus it has a ton of torque," Luttrell says. "We've gotten a lot of positive feedback that it's pulling better, faster and harder than the competition."

Luttrell says he spent a year and a half producing a prototype, testing it and using it. "It's built for a single purpose," he says. "Designed for our needs precisely."

The better freewheeling comes from the roller bearings rather than needle bearings in a more conventional wheel drive. "Needle bearings are necessary to handle heavy side loads," he says, "but a gillnet drum doesn't have side loads. The trade off is that the needle bearings keep a conventional drive from freewheeling properly."

The new drive also comes with standard 4 and 6 bolt patterns for gillnet drums, so no adapter plate is necessary. "It'll bolt right up," he says.

Kinematics continues to supply machinery including anchor winches and stern rollers, including supplying most of the Southern California squid light boat fleet with anchor winches. "Those guys use their anchors 20 times a day," Luttrell says. "They like our winches because they can take that kind or load."

Luttrell says this year new equipment sales will be down. "This year we'll be doing more repair work because of the price of salmon," he says. "We foresaw it would be slower this year, although a lot of guys stuck it out up there and did OK."


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