How to Install an Electric Boat Winch

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You're doing yourself a favor when you install an electric boat winch. If you've spent too much time turning the crank on that manual winch on the front of your trailer, you may eventually decide that "something's gotta give." By replacing a hand-cranked winch with an electric boat winch, all you're doing is substituting an electric motor for a set of aching muscles.

Items you will need

  • Water-displacing spray lubricant (WD-40)

  • 2 adjustable wrenches

  • 1-inch pipe (optional)

Spray the lubricant on the bolts and nuts holding the hand-cranked winch in place on the trailer and let the lubricant set in place for an hour.

Disconnect the wire between the hand-cranked winch and your boat by unsnapping the clip on the end of the wire and removing the clip from the ring on the bow (front) of your boat.

Hold a wrench on the head of the bolt while using a second wrench to remove the nut by turning it counterclockwise. Leave the bolt in place until all nuts are removed and repeat this process for all four bolts. When all four nuts are removed, lift the hand-cranked winch and bolts from the trailer.

Set the electric winch in place. Insert the bolts (provided with the winch) through the holes in the base of the winch and screw the nuts onto the bolts until they are finger tight. Hold a wrench on the head of each bolt in turn, while using a second wrench to tighten each nut by turning it clockwise.

Plug the power cable from the vehicle into the plug on the electric winch and turn the electric winch on. Operate the winch to test its function before snapping the wire to the ring on the bow of your boat. Unplug the power cable from the winch and turn the winch off.


  • Using a "cheater" pipe to lengthen the handle of a wrench may void the warranty on the wrench.


  • If the nuts are still tough, set the handle of an adjustable wrench down into a piece of pipe an inch in diameter. The pipe "lengthens" the handle and makes it easier to turn a tough nut.