View Full Version : How to replace your ShoreStation winch cable (DIY with pictures)

06-09-2014, 11:19 AM
A while back I asked if anyone had replaced the winch cable on their ShoreStation. (http://www.mastercraft.com/teamtalk/showthread.php?t=60101) Thanks to liledgy for giving me the confidence to tackle this project. It's actually pretty easy and beats buying a whole new winch tube ($500) if all you need is the winch cable ($60).

Things you will need:

New winch cable
Long screwdriver or punch to knock the free end winch cable out of it's housing on the drum
Curved pick to pull the eye end of winch cable out of the winch tube
3/4" wrench (pair, or two sockets)
9/16" wrench
15/16" wrench
1-1/8" wrench (pair, or two sockets)

ShoreStation has recently released a video showing how to completely restring the tube. You should definitely watch this first (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgSBOHcY9Yw) to get an idea of how everything goes together.

However, if you only need to replace the winch cable (and it hasn't broken completely) you can do this pretty easily by using the original winch cable as a fish tape.

The winch cable is the blue cable here (1). The lead wedge is (6).


I bought a new cable from http://www.boatliftanddock.com/. I've always had good luck with these guys. The stainless cable was about $57. I also bought a new lead wedge but it turns out you can re-use these easily.


First you've got to release the winch tube by (a) releasing the winch cable from the winch and (b) releasing the two lift cables from the carriage.


This is how the winch cable is attached to the drum. The free end doubles back on itself and a lead wedge holds it all in place within that slot. You can punch it out with a long screwdriver.


This is how you free the lift cable nuts. A 9/16 wrench on the cable end in the tube, and a 15/16 wrench to back the nut off.


Okay, now that you have the winch tube off and in a comfortable place to work, make a note of the cables, which pulley they lay in and which side they exit the tube.


The first thing you need to do is remove the pair of pulleys. They are in the way of the winch eye bolt. The nut and bolt are both 1-1/8".


Now you can coax the pulleys out of the tube. Make a note of which cable goes above and below the pulleys.


The winch cable goes around the pulley low (but exits the tube high) and the lift cable goes around the pulley high (but exits the tube low).


With the pulleys out of the way, you can see the eye of the winch cable, and the bolt that holds it in place.


Again, make note of which cable runs high and which runs low. When you reassemble, this all must go back together in the same orientation.


Now we can release the bolt holding the eye in place. I think it's a 3/4" nut and bolt.


Use a hook to grab the eye end of the winch cable and pull it out. Now you have both ends of the winch cable in your hands.


If you don't have the means to cut off the eye end, you could tie a fish table onto the free end and pull it through. Then tie your new cable to the fish table and pull it back around.

I decided to cut off the eye end and splice on my new cable so I would only have to go around the interior snatch block one time. This is what I'm about to do here.


Visualize it.



Now you can butt splices the free end of your new winch cable to the eye bolt end of your old cable. Make the splice strong (because if it comes apart in there you're taking the entire winch tube apart) but thin enough to go around the snatch block inside of the tube. It's a fine line.

I put electrical tape around both ends and then covered them with a piece of shrink tubing and then slightly more electrical table.


If everything goes according to plan, you can now gently fish your new cable through. You should end up with this.


At this point you can reassemble everything.

Make sure to run the lift cable above the winch tube bolt and the winch cable below it. Also make sure you get the cables on the right side of the pulleys once you push the pulleys back in. I cleaned both pulleys and lightly greased them with marine grease before reassembly.

I hope this helps someone in the future. It only took about an hour once I had the winch tube off of the lift.

06-09-2014, 12:21 PM
Nice write up,

Just did a complete rebuild on a Hewitt 4600lb cantilever lift. Got it for $500 and for another $400 for parts (replaced all bolts, pulleys and cable) its like a brand new lift!! Highly recommend anyone looking for a cheap lift to go this route.

06-09-2014, 01:15 PM
Nice write up,

Just did a complete rebuild on a Hewitt 4600lb cantilever lift. Got it for $500 and for another $400 for parts (replaced all bolts, pulleys and cable) its like a brand new lift!! Highly recommend anyone looking for a cheap lift to go this route.

It's definitely an economical way to go! As I continue to maintain mine, I've found an angle grinder or dremel with a cutting wheel is the most effective tool on many of these fasteners that have spent the last 15 years under water. Oh, and I replace every bolt I cut off with a stainless one. :)

02-20-2017, 10:08 AM
I know I am waking this back up from the dead, but this is a great post. It looks like I am getting a ST 4000 lift with the purchase of a lake house. I called ST and they said it would be fine for my 05 malibu VLX which is 3600lbs dry. For safety reasons, I want to overhaul and start with everything new.

It the normal failure mode just the winch cable? What about the moving pulley which seems that this repair method can't reach.


02-20-2017, 01:15 PM
Catamount, glad this worked out fairly easily for you (i can't believe I never saw this before today. I used a piece of number 12 copper to pull my new cable around.
For the other poster that asked about the moving pulley inside the tube. That's not difficult either, you just need a few pieces of number 12 copper to assist/extending you in fishing the cables back into the tube. When I did both the winch and leveling cable I dissassembled everything out of tube and then ran a piece of number twelve thru the tube I attached the sliding pulley with the lift cable attached and pullled it all the way back to the winch side (I believe I added number 12 wire to the ends to be able to pull it back (after winch cable was attatched. I then ran the winch cable around the pulley (remember which way it goes over the pulley otherwise it will rub on the anchor bolt of cable and rub thru bolt) and attached looped end thru the anchor bolt. Insert the end pulleys with the proper orientation (over or under) and that's it.

02-20-2017, 06:23 PM
I remember when I was little I was cranking down our boat and heard a very loud bang. My grandparents Sea Ray was sitting at a hell of an angle. Sure enough one of the cables broke.

The original cable lasted less than 10 years. My grandpa replaced the steel cables with stainless steel and they are still holding strong to this day. Same type of lift as the OP. Those ShoreStations are fantastic lifts although the Floe lifts are extremely nice.

04-15-2017, 11:35 PM
Did this tonight....worked perfect. I didn't even disconnect the lower cables. It took me about an hour and a half. Thanks!

04-16-2018, 08:50 AM
Great post! I started this project to replace my winch cable but ran into a snag. I'm having trouble with the step that describes: "This is how the winch cable is attached to the drum. The free end doubles back on itself and a lead wedge holds it all in place within that slot. You can punch it out with a long screwdriver."

Is the lead wedge just a piece of metal? which direction do you punch out? The loop of cable is now pretty torn up after trying to get this out. almost cut in half.

Really appreciate any tips!

04-16-2018, 10:30 PM
My wedge was just a piece of metal. It can only come out one direction (the larger opening) wind the winch up so the smaller opening is facing you and tap a screwdriver into the small opening. The wedge should drop out.

04-16-2018, 11:38 PM
Thank you!

04-17-2018, 01:21 AM
I've had to do this on a few and I don't want to be that guy but i have to, this is why i love my cantilever lift, the cable replacement is soooooo easy it isn't even funny. but thanks for the pics that does help out those who have not done it before

04-17-2018, 08:16 AM
You must be better than me because I tried to replace the cable on a shorestation from the 90's and it was an epic fail. Of course it was 35 degrees outside and sleeting. I got so frustrated that I went over to the marina and bought the winch tube for $500. Good news is that it is fixed and there is more time to drink beer.

Great write up though. Nobody ever accused me of being the brightest or follow directions exactly.

07-12-2018, 07:32 PM
Memorial weekend, putting the boat on 20+ year old Shorestation lift, heard a BANG, "oh ****", as I know this is always a difficult fix (have done some of this before). First, to get the lift out of the water. It's 5' at the front and over my head at the back. 4-4x4's screwed together for a beam on horses, chain fall to bring it up from the bottom one side at a time. Discovered we had thought the wrong cable broke (30% restock fee and shipping cost to return). Bought boatlifthelper.com bags, installed them, moved them over more toward the winch side to compensate for weight diff there. The PO had a huge cruiser on this lift before we bought it so winch tube had to be fixed 20 years ago, cables pulling through the tube, etc. Pretty beat up. Had to destroy the rollers inside today and discovered the shuttlecock was welded shut, can't open, had to be mcgyver'd long ago. Ugh. Ordering a total winch tube package now. Hopefully this will be it for a while. At least it will be easy to get out of the water from now on. Boatlifthelper is the key. So easy. Hubby is 72 so we had to do something to make it easy from now on. See pics on fb Karen Bushy.

08-07-2018, 10:32 PM
I just broke the winch cable tonight. Thankfully my MasterCraft was not very high and I was here when it happened.

These instructions will be read many times over the winter as I plan on waiting until spring to get this done. What a pain.