Backyard ski lift

If you own a cabin in the mountains of British Columbia what do you do during the warmer summer months? Well, we’d probably mix of a cocktail and string up a hammock, but [Darrin] is quite a bit more motivated. He planned for the snowy season by building his own ski lift. He shared the details in a forum post, but you’re going to have to register and wait for approval before you can view that thread. Perhaps you’ll want to look at the video after the break before making that kind of commitment. Normally we would just pass over projects that require a login to view, but this one deserves the attention.

The setup is essentially a very steep tow rope. 1600 feet of 1/8″ aircraft cable covers an 800 foot span of his property. Apparently he’s got a total of 1000 feet of vertical drop but the lift doesn’t cover the whole area quite yet. That 6.5 horsepower Honda engine drives the cable loop, with the pulley system seen above used as an RPM reducer. Each skier can hook onto the cable used the nylon rope with a ski-pole spacer and a hook. The RC vehicle remote control works as a dead man’s switch, starting the lift slowly when the throttle is depressed and stopping it when released.

Normally we like to link to similar projects, but so far this is the only ski lift we’ve covered. You’ll have to settle for this ski-pole mounted POV display.

Comments

  1. mohonri says:

    The pulleys don’t appear to be actually reducing the speed. I think they’re there to provide greater grip on the cable.

  2. Justin says:

    Very cool. :)

  3. brad says:

    Neat, but underpowered. A friend of mine has a lift at his house for his kids, but it’s powered by a 6 cylinder fiero engine. It can haul 8 people at once over a ~1500′ span.

    • Steve M says:

      Is this one underpowered, or is your friend’s overpowered?

      • brad says:

        Overpowered? How can towing uphill at 35mph be overpowered?

        (he has a governor on it, current top speed <5mph)

      • Ren says:

        The ski slope near Walhalla, ND used to use the engine of a WW II German Armored Personal Carrier to run its towline. The APC was still attached, probably helping to anchor the towline (and supply gear reduction?). An acquaintance of mine later purchased the APC to include with his tank collection.

    • anyone says:

      this is a single person towrope…not a multiperson ski lift. 6.5hp is plenty to pull a single person up a mountain and is a lot easier to maintain, store and fuel.

      also, you’re full of shit unless you post pictures or a link.

  4. Hirudinea says:

    Nice, I just hope that it stops pulling if it loses signal from the controler (but from the discription I’m sure it does), now he should get years of use out of it unless someone from the province or feds sees it in which case he’ll have it shut down in a second and get a big ass fine.

  5. B says:

    This needs WAY more brakes/safety interlocks/kill switches/guard covers. Especially with the gear reduction, something like that has the serious potential to de-scalp or kill.

  6. Reg says:

    FWIW Back in the day (1905-1930), Popular Mechanics Shop Notes described a similar setup that used a capstan bolted on the axle of a car in place of the wheel. As I recall it relied on the user tensioning the rope to initiate motion..

    Long term this is much better of course.

    • awasson says:

      I remember seeing one like that in Popular Mechanics too. It must have been later than the 30’s though because I remember seeing it in one of my dad’s Popular Mechanics magazines and he was born in 1934. My guess is that the one I saw was from about the early to mid-40’s.

  7. lizardboy says:

    The Tav-2 is a CVT and provides first stage load variable reduction. There is a safety gate a wireless estop and a wired estop. The control works by a deadman style trigger and if you let go of the lanyard your released. but really your never closer than the 7foot lanyard to any pulley or the cable itself. It will be getting a few more guards. The multiple pulleys are to get more traction on the cable with less tension. No problem with power at all. The ride time is only 1 minute. I get the underpowered comment but it would take us into a whole different magnitude of tech to go much bigger. The gas consumption is very low not so sure with a car engine. Never mind lifting it.

  8. lizardboy says:

    Oh I should add theres a video on you tube http://youtu.be/3yyXRBPijG0

    • anyone says:

      Looks cool, but I’m pretty annoyed that I have to log in to some stupid forum to see pictures of this thing.

      so, instead of logging in and looking at it, I’ll just make my on assumptions that this thing actually sucks and isn’t well designed.

      TO THE REST OF THIS COMMUNITY: Please don’t start doing this. For tons of people, this extra step isn’t worth it to look at some pictures, so fewer people will see your work.

      • awasson says:

        @anyone: Well as long as you base your opinions of what “sucks” or “isn’t well designed” with such balance and critical thinking, it’s all good.

      • anyone says:

        of course. All decent engineers assume the worst before until evidence is shown to suggest otherwise. Because the work is too difficult to access (yes, by a signup/login it is too difficult for this scope of this website), the evidence is inaccessible and therefore the entire work sucks.

        All I really want to see happen is people don’t bother looking at his work and that this type of thing doesn’t happen again.

  9. Nico says:

    When I see things like that, I’m always asking myself why I still live in a City. I must have done something wrong.
    Love it,
    Cheers, Nico

  10. canucklehead says:

    Yup, we do it better here. :)
    Seriously though great build, and was worth the registration.

  11. biozz says:

    the snow is depressing me but god thats a nice view

  12. paul says:

    “Normally we like to link to similar projects, but so far this is the only ski lift we’ve covered”

    Maybe I’m coming from a different planet, but on my monitor it looks very similar to:
    http://hackaday.com/2011/03/01/super-winch-makes-sledding-100-more-fun/

  13. Lizard says:

    Actually the road sign was a homemade sign that someone used to identify their lane it’s 1-4 aluminum and they taped on their own letters. It was the same name as the landowner

  14. Lizard says:

    Actually the road sign was a homemade sign that someone used to identify their lane it’s 1-4 aluminum and they taped on their own letters. It was the same name as the landowner
    That other video scares me but similar it would never handle this kind of slope your hands are not strong enough great project but the ripe path scares me

  15. Seth says:

    What band is playing in the background of this video?

  16. Robrips says:

    AC/DC, Its a Long way to the Top.

    Classic stuff.

  17. Brian says:

    Ours (the other post linked to) is very similar mechanically. Great job, guys! Your pulleys are very much like something I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t gotten around to.
    FWIW, I’d wager the slope we use it on is pretty close to the same steepness (unless your hill is rock…)
    and you’re right – hands cannot hang on very long! Just wanted to clarify that you’re knocking the attachment method (which admittedly was poor last year), not the machine. The winch should deadlift ~800 lbs. We snapped our amsteel blue line about a 1/2 dozen times 2 weeks ago, until we got the remote to feather the takeoff better.
    Only problem here is not enough snow. Would love to have your weather!

  18. Lizardboy says:

    At times when your pulling up drop offs and things and are heading straight up for a second or so you really get to like the harness. I’d love to have a more open slope but all hells gonna break loose with a brush saw this summer. I was concerned about the rope paths getting tangled up on the drive wheel.. But seriously whats to knock? it rocks dude no competition required.

    Our biggest problem at this time of year is keeping the cable up out of the snow when we aren’t using it. We have about 4 to 5 feet of snow on the ground right now. and had about 3 feet fall this week. Look up skiwhitewater to see our local hill.

  19. jps44 says:

    Can you give more detail on how you spliced the cable to make a loop? Also, how does the lanyard grip the cable?
    I have a similar lift purchased from http://www.skiliftportabletow.com/. Unfortunately it has a number of design flaws which need to be fixed before it is usable.

    • mezrat says:

      Is it unusable? It Looks great on the company video.
      What are the design flaws? I just found out about it and wanted to get one for next winter..

      • jps44 says:

        Where do I start?
        The clamp that grips the cable is does not work. It either does not grip or slips and ruins the cable leading to tangles and eventually breakage.
        The mounting system for both the motor and pulley is not strong or stable enough for the tension put on the wire by the skier. This causes the wire to derail off the pulley system.
        The throttle system is also not great. It either pulls way too fast, jerking the skier’s arms, or stalls when the skier pulls. It is difficult to find the perfect setting.
        In three seasons of trying I managed two good ski days with it before it broke. The cable snapped and the vendor refuses to even give me advice on how to fix it.
        The included operating instructions are useless and there is no customer support. Buy at your own risk.
        That said, I will be trying to modify it this summer to use rope and get it working for the winter. It would have been easier to start from scratch like some of the other projects you can find online.

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