What Is A Worm Gear Winch And How Does It Work?

Are you working on a project or in a job that requires some lifting, suspending items,  or pulling? Or perhaps do you find yourself stuck in an unforgiving terrain? The solution for such dilemmas is a winch. Winch can make your job easy and efficient by doing the pulling, suspending, and lifting for you, whether they are used in your job or recovering your stuck vehicle

Winches come in different types such as electrical winches, hybrid winches, portable winches, mechanical drum-style winches, mechanical hand-operated winches, etc. Each of the different winch types has different ways to function, but they all similarly work the same way. In some ways, even though they work differently, their uses overlap with each other. 

Say, for example, you need a winch for hoisting or hauling heavy equipment. Both hand-operated winch and an electric winch can do the job, provided that they are designed for that use.  It actually only depends on your preference, if you want your work to be quick and easy, then the electric winch is for you. On the other hand, if you want to do it in a way that has lesser winch maintenance and cheaper, then the hand-operated winch is for you. 

Winches are actually very simple on how it works. It is merely a cable or a rope wrapped around the drum and operated by a crank. With the advent of technological progress, the simple principle of the winch has evolved. It has taken a more modern and complicated appearance to meet the demands of the current time. 

If you are on a tight budget and are looking for low maintenance and cheap winch, then you might want to consider hand-crank winches. Hand-crank winches can do jobs as any other type of winch could, but it is only limited by the load capacity it can take. They are light, versatile, durable, and does require much work on maintenance. Whatever other winches can do, it can also do, albeit at a slower pace.

However, we won’t recommend you just any hand-crank winch. We will be recommending you a worm gear winch.

Worm Gear?

Before we get ourselves to defining what is a worm gear winch. Let’s first discuss the worm gear mechanics as this is vital to understanding the worm gear winch.

A worm gear is a gear arrangement consisting of a spiral thread that meshes to a toothed wheel. The spiral thread is what we call the worm, and the toothed wheel is called the worm gear. The terminologies are often mixed up since the worm gear is incorrectly referred to as the whole unit instead of only referring to the toothed wheel. For simplicity’s sake let’s refer to the entire gear unit as a worm gear.

In layman’s terms, the worm (a gear that looks like a screw) meshes against the worm gear wheel (a gear that has similar appearances to spur gear). Like many other gear arrangements, a worm gear reduces rotational speed or transmit higher torque. What differentiates this gear from other gears is its ability to transfer rotational movement by 90 degrees. The worm gear is a very simple machine, and it has been used for thousands of years. Its first known use in the Indian subcontinent.

So why the worm gear? Why choose it over other gears? There are several reasons. One of the reasons is its ability to reduce the ratio. By increasing the circumference of the worm wheel, a worm gear can massively reduce the ratio. Adjusting accordingly will either increase or decrease the torque. Regular gearsets would take several parts to do the same thing, meaning more parts that are prone to damage. The lesser the parts are in a gear, the more efficient and durable it becomes.

Another reason for using a worm gear rather than the regular gears is because it can’t change its course of power. It is impossible for the wheel to suddenly change course due to the friction between the worm and the wheel, even with force applied to it.

On a typical gear, with enough force applied to it, its course can be turned separately. Making a necessity to add a backstop on a regular gear set, furthering the complications.

With the myriad of benefits this gear can give, are there any downsides to it? Yes, there is. This gear set will need constant lubrication. Worm gears solely move using a sliding movement between the worm wheel and the worm, unlike regular gearsets that have several spur gears that assist in its rolling motion.

Now that you know what is a worm gear, it will be relatively easy to understand what is a worm gear winch.

What Is A Worm Gear Winch?

Worm gear winches have fewer moving parts than other designs of hand crank winches. This makes them known for their reliability and longevity. As previously discussed, the lesser the parts it contains, the lesser the complications.

It is widely known that worm gear winches are not known for their line speed. However, the worm gear winch has the best braking system. The worm gear winch is self-braking, meaning that once you stop turning the crank, the winch immediately stops. Due to the new technology developed, there are already worm gear winches that have line speeds that are similar to common hand-crank winches.


The worm gear winch is perfect for those on a tight budget. This winch will last you long even with frequent use. Maintenance isn’t much of an issue, the only thing you need to do is to remember to add some lubrication when using it.

Hopefully, this article has helped you in understanding what is a worm gear winch. If you have any thoughts or questions on this topic, feel free to comment them below!