Are you familiar with the payout winch? It's junkyard technology, literally. The WINCH itself goes down the road, on a flat trailer or in a pick-up truck. With a towing trailer, every vehicle with a trailer hitch receiver can be a tow vehicle for you. The winch (reel) has a disk brake, to pull the glider up, and to pay out the tow-line (with a preset tension), as the glider climbs. You can tow hang gliders to several thousand feet AGL (plenty of altitude for thermal soaring), using Spectra or Dyneema tow-line.
An electric motor (car starter) can reel in the tow line after the pilot releases. With a small drogue 'chute on the towline, the motor can retrieve the tow line, before it even touches the dirt.
Towing is a Special Skill, so find experienced HG tow pilots to give you all the important details. These experienced types can also advise you about the best parts to get, for your towing rig.
Payout winch launches a sailplane (or a HG), with maybe 100 yards (100m) of line laid out, to start:
From one or more junked rear-wheel-drive automobiles, you will want to collect this list of parts:
- [ ] One front spindle, bearings, hub, aluminum (cast) wheel, and disk brake (as an assembly)
- [ ] Starter motor
- [ ] Ford (stand-alone) starter relay
- [ ] Battery
- [ ] Master cylinder (the non-power-assist type, preferably)
- [ ] While we are stripping that old junked automobile, the windshield wiper motor can make a cheap electric level-winder for your tow reel, which is switched on using the same switch as the retrieve motor. The single-wiper Mercedes unit should do the trick.
The starter relay is activated (to retrieve the tow-line) by a convenient push-button switch. You probably want to get the hub with factory-sealed bearings, rather than the old-style races which need repacking regularly.
- [ ] You will need one "toggle clamp" (used by machinists) to set and hold pressure on the brake rod; these cost from about the price of dinner, up to the stars (Google can help with that).
- [ ] You will need a hydraulic pressure gauge, hoses, and fittings (any good hose shop can get you set up, at reasonable costs).
Depending on your social skills, you might get some or all of these items for a song, but even at fair market prices, you should be able to acquire the list of parts for maybe half a paycheck.
- [ ] Almost any flat trailer will work as a towing trailer, or you can install the rig in a pick-up truck.