The life of a captain is anything but luxurious, but certainly, a boat lift makes it easier. In order to keep the boat lift in ideal operating conditions, regular maintenance is required. If a boat lift if properly maintained, it can last up to 25 years! If regular maintenance is overlooked, the boat lift will fail quicker, and damage will occur.
Repairs are much more costly than performing routine maintenance. No matter the manufacturer, boat lifts generally require the same maintenance over the years.
1. Lift Cables
If there are any abnormalities with the cables, you will be able to see them with a routine inspection. Rust, fraying, kinks and broken strands are all visible to the naked eye and are a sure sign that the cables will need replacing in the near future.
Whenever the lift is used, the cables should be washed with fresh water to get the salt off of them. If left unwashed, the salt can corrode the cables and they will not last as long as they should. Additionally, lift cables can be lubricated with chain and cable fluid. This fluid will lubricate the cables as they rub against each other. The lubricant protects the cables and can make them last longer.
After two years of normal use, the cables for your boat lift will likely need to be replaced, even if you don’t see any abnormalities. Following replacement guidelines for your lift cables will reduce the risk of costly damage to your boat, or severe injury to you if the cables fail.
2. Lift Beams
Lift beams should be rinsed after use in order to reduce the amount of salt on them. Salt can corrode the beams and barnacles can grow on them. If left untreated, the salt and barnacles will continue to accumulate and the beams will become weak. When the lift isn’t in use, keeping the beams out of the water will help increase their lifespan.
The gearbox and drive units should be inspected regularly. All gears should be well greased to prevent them from seizing. For flat plat drives, simply take the covers off and inspect that there are no loose, frayed, or otherwise damaged belts. If there are signs of damage, replace the belt before the next use. Alignment is also important!
Motors and covers should not appear rusty or be retaining water. Drain holes on top should be closed and drain holes on the bottom should be open for optimal draining. High-quality motors can last up to ten years when they are covered!
Check the bunks to make sure that there are no worn-out patches in the carpet, and that there are no broken or rotted areas in the wood. Brackets should not have cracks or any other signs of wear. Ensure that all of the hardware is tight and the brackets are in the correct places. Carpeted wood bunks will need to be replaced occasionally because they are repeatedly exposed to the water.
Pulleys should be greased biannually. If they aren’t greased at least twice a year, the friction between the sheaves and their mounts will increase, which will cause the mechanism to make noise and seize. Nuts and bolts should always be as tight as possible.
6. Elevator Lifts
For elevator lifts, check your wired zincs. Zincs should be completely under the water. If they appear more than half worn, replacement is necessary.
7. Drive Pipe Bearing Block
Biannually, grease all points of the motor to ensure that the motor can function to the best of its ability. If there is no grease, friction will increase and there will be the potential of failure.
When the captain performs the regular maintenance as described above, the need for costly repairs is greatly reduced. But let’s face it, sometimes the captain is busy and simply doesn’t have the time to follow all of the routine maintenance suggestions for their lift. Don’t ignore it, and find someone to help! A knowledgeable boat lift service company will be able to perform the general maintenance of the lift for a minimal fee. Enjoy more time on the water, while they help keep your boat in (and out) of the water – happy sailing!