Sail Winch for Santa Barbara... - RC Groups
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Apr 23, 2011, 02:20 AM
Spreckels Lake, GGP, SF, CA
craig_c's Avatar

Sail Winch for Santa Barbara...

I'm rebuilding and refitting my S/Bs after many years in drydock ...

Back when I had to hang my boats from the joists, those big ol' drone servos were the only game in town and I am honestly a bit confused by all the choices now for the winches...

Could I get a some suggestions / advice on how to proceed? I do want a fairly robust unit as winds in the SF Bay area can turn pretty gusty without warning.
Last edited by craig_c; Apr 23, 2011 at 03:09 AM.
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Apr 23, 2011, 02:36 PM
Registered User
I can recommend a ServoCity winch, I have a 5:1 winch. It is slow but powerful. I'm going to try changing the gear ratios to speed it up. Perhaps 3:1.

You can also check out RMG winches. They're faster but twice as expensive as ServoCity. I don't know what their link is.
Apr 23, 2011, 02:42 PM
Registered User

Sail Winch for Santa Barbara

Hi Craig,
I do not own a Santa Barbara (on my wish list, they are an awesome boat) but I do have a scratch built Sailboat which has similar Sail Area size to a Santa Barbara and I am utilizing a Robot Zone Servo Gearbox.
My choice was the 4:1 ratio. I know that many other Sailors are using these Gearbox setups in some of the larger Sailboat Classes, Santa Barbara include. My assembled gearbox pictured is a 1st generation one. The unassembled kit is the newer version (same as on link). The improvements are aluminum main frame and ball-bearings support for the output shaft versus Kydex Plastic and bronze bushings of the older version.
One does have to modify the Hi-Tec 805 Servo from its stock 90 degree rotation to 180 rotation. One option is using Servo City's servo stretcher. Or it is a relatively simple procedure[
This Gearbox is probably the best dollar per value Sail Winch solution for use in the larger RC Sailboats. I did notice that Servo City does not seem to offer just the Gearbox by itself. Being Canadian I get my Gearboxes from here
Another option is the RMG drum Winch
This is probably the best Winch available but as with most things in life that are the best, the most expensive.
Hope this is of some help in getting your Santa Barbara back out in its element and Sailing once again.
Apr 23, 2011, 04:43 PM
Registered User

Sail Winch for Santa Barbara

What was the servo arm setup for your Santa Barbara, single or double arm?
I bought a S/B used that had two HITEC 815 servos with a Y connector to the RX and I did not like that, so I ordered the 4:1 gear ratio HITEC 805 from Servo City and also ordered the Servo Stretcher and they work fine here in Sacramento. If you convert from a double arm to single arm configuration it required new radio board, fairleads thru deck, and new sheets run thru a dual sheave pully mounted on the mast support below deck.Hope this helps
S/B 1386
Apr 23, 2011, 05:49 PM
Registered User
seefest's Avatar
I also have an SPG 805A with 4:1 gear ratio for my Newport 12M. It is extremly powerful and controls the 1600 square inches of sail in any breeze. It is plenty quick enough for a boat of this size. I had Servo city build it and it cost $139 not including shipping. A bargain IMHO. A servo stretcher is NOT necessary with this unit. Servo stretchers decrease servo resolution. The addition of two resistors inline with the two outer leads on the potentiometer, gives the unit 180 degree capability without the servo stretcher.
When ordering the unit(if you decide to go this route), ask for 180 degree rotation and they will solder the resistors in for you. I soldered mine in after being disappointed with the servos stretchers operation.(notchy and not finely tunable)

Great units, for a bargain price.
Apr 23, 2011, 05:54 PM
Registered User
seefest's Avatar
Just one more comment. RMG's are over rated. They are good winches, but no better than the servo city winches at least as far as larger classes are concerned. Plus, I'm not a fan of drum winches complexity(bungee cord, overrides, ect). Arm winches are simple and bullit proof.
Apr 23, 2011, 06:24 PM
Registered User

big servos

Thanks fellows or gals as the case may be I was reading the bit about winches for a S/B also on my wish list oh well when I saw that neat idea for keeping the line out of the servo we small boat sailors [Marblehead] have sometimes similar problems I use Futaba S3801 winches which are now out of production unfortunately but the main sheet hung up in my seawind and I had to work around keeping it the line out of the ends of the winch it has not happened on the Marblehead as yet fingers crossed that looks a lot better casy
Apr 24, 2011, 02:42 AM
Registered User
tbarjohn's Avatar
I've used 4 robot zone Servo Gearbox in Santa Barbara's with 4:1 and 3:1 gears, with good luck, I've also used RGM but I don't think it is worth the money, you can order a SPG 815A if you order it by phone, they aren't available on line, then you don't have to stretch it for 170 deg. rotation, there servo streaker doesn't work right
John R.
Apr 25, 2011, 05:49 AM
Spreckels Lake, GGP, SF, CA
craig_c's Avatar
Thanks for the suggestions guys. This is much appreciated information!! I am definitely going to look into your suggestions.

Originally Posted by jeff16
What was the servo arm setup for your Santa Barbara, single or double arm?
To answer Jeff's question:

I have the heavy Vortex (mil-spec, target aircraft/drone servo units) both the two and three channel (separate channel for jib-trim) "sail control unit" variants driving a single upper-arm and a smaller (approximately two inch) single-arm jib-trim on the the bottom of the servo, down in the bilge .

The servo winch's gearing was protected from stripping by a nylon bolt that sheared in half, releasing the sail-control-arm extension from upper servo-arm if hit by shock from a gust or the main laying over, but that left you unable to control your sails as the lines were totally slack. Used to always have a dozen or so of the shear bolts in my kit. Is this still an issue with the modern servos?

I had been considering rebuilding one boat as a "from the factory" variant with the heavy SCU and the old original 27mhz Kraft brick receiver/dual servo combination, but I think I'll go for a modern update that is more user friendly and has less weight.
Latest blog entry: Ah, To be young again...
Apr 25, 2011, 08:41 PM
Mike Denest's Avatar
There's lots of build information at Although it is not your boat, the EC12 is similar in size and weight. Take a special look at the radio installations which have improved greatly over the old drone servo.
Last edited by Mike Denest; Apr 27, 2011 at 08:36 PM.
Apr 26, 2011, 02:39 PM
Big Boats Rule!
boater_dave's Avatar
I have used a heavy spring as a shock absorber on some older boats, but with my Robotzone unit I have nothing. I figure the first thing to go will be one of the pastic gears in the upper part of the servo, or the entire rig will collapse. It's never happened yet, and I have sailed in all conditions for several years with that unit. Smashing through bigger waves (on the bigger lakes) with 15+ knots of breeze on the 'B' rig is lots of fun. After one such day I took over a quart of water out of the bilge. And the only entry points are the thru-deck sheet holes.

May 03, 2011, 01:16 PM
Registered User
Another thing to consider when deciding to abandon the 27Mhz band of RC frequencies, a lot of toys are being produced and some may be on that channel you decide to use.
A strange thing happened to me while sailing my Infinity 54 on a 75Mhz FM radio channel. I was in a local club regatta on the Elk Grove, CA Community Park, and adjacent to the pond was a church setup that was using FM wireless microphones also on the channnel I was using, which ruined my entire day with the I-54. It may behove you to consider the 2.4Ghz band to avoid interference.
Feb 03, 2013, 05:20 PM
Registered User
rsgault's Avatar
Originally Posted by seefest
I also have an SPG 805A with 4:1 gear ratio for my Newport 12M. A servo stretcher is NOT necessary with this unit. Servo stretchers decrease servo resolution. The addition of two resistors inline with the two outer leads on the potentiometer, gives the unit 180 degree capability without the servo stretcher.

What size resistors did you use? I am only getting about 90 degrees on my Gearbox with an HS-805mg. I bought the kit and did my own modification on my 805.

Feb 03, 2013, 09:27 PM
Registered User
I am using an RMG in my boat and I agree the complexity level is is high. The winch works very well and has lots of power. Ryan
Feb 03, 2013, 10:58 PM
Registered User
tbarjohn's Avatar
Rich, I use 2.2K resistors on my 805's
John R.

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