Summer is almost here. Are you Ready?

Summer activities officially start with Memorial Day. In 2020 this may be delayed for many people. Even so, it’s approaching fast. 

Memorial Day means a lot of outdoor activities will be starting. Many people will head to the lake for fun and relaxation. To truly enjoy the rest of the season, you have to ask yourself, “Is my place ready for summer”?

Many people have time on their hands this year, so why not use it to get ready for summer? That way, you can enjoy getting outside and have some real fun on the water.


Be Ready for Summer Activities

Here’s a quick checklist to help make sure you are ready for the season. Many people have time on your hands this year, so why not use it to get ready for summer?


Summer Startup Checklist:

  1. Have your air conditioner checked and serviced if needed.
  2. Inspect, sweep, and power wash your decking & porch. For more information – see link
  3. Touch up stains and paints as needed.
  4. Prep your lawn. You may need to give the yard a thorough mowing.
  5. Rake up any leftover leaves and debris so that a lush green grass can thrive.
  6. Get out the rake and clean up any debris on your shore. Watch for glass and sharp objects that washed up over the winter. They can completely take the fun out of your summer.
  7. Clean the grill, fill the propane tanks, or stock up on charcoal and lighter fluid. You want to make sure you have everything ready for that first barbeque.
  8. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test these every six months. If you don’t have detectors or fire extinguishers, be sure to get some. Unlike living in the city, many lakefront communities have only volunteer fire departments. Response times may not be as quick as in the city, and fire only needs time to get totally out of control.


  9. If the furnace has not been operating over the winter, now is an excellent time to make sure it is working correctly. You’ll need it for those early morning chills.
  10. Look over the screens on the windows and doors. Repair any holes or replace them as needed. No one wants to leave an invitation for the bugs to enter the house. 
  11. Clean your boat and PWC and any other “toys.” Check all fluid levels, inspect the hull, test electronics, give it a thorough cleaning. 
  12. Check all anchor ropes. Are they cut or rotting? 
  13. Be sure to check the trailer and lights. Nothing is more aggravating than following a vehicle with faulty lights. 
  14. Have you checked the batteries? Is it time for a new one? 
  15. Be sure to stock the cabinets. Are there snacks, hamburgers, chips, hot dogs, buns, along with beverages and lots of s’mores. They’re great for outdoor grills and campfires.
  16. Plant new flowers to add more beauty and color to your yard. 
  17. Check your dock and the cables on your jet ski and boat lifts. Have them changed before they go into the water. For more information, follow this link; and   

Most important of all …ENJOY A SAFE SUMMER!


Tell Your Friends & Family

Have friends or neighbors you believe should see this article? Email them this link – and Thank you!
Visit Pier & Waterfront Solutions on Facebook also.

Where is Pier & Waterfront Solutions?

Located at 7325 St. Hwy 57, it’s 3 miles south of Sturgeon Bay, and 1 mile past the intersection of Cty MM (heading north). Look on the right side, one mile north, at the next intersection (Idlewild Road and Hwy 57).



During this time of uncertainty, Pier & Waterfront Solutions is staying “open.”  We have implemented measures to ensure the safety of our employees and visitors. At the same time, we are working to maintain the trusted service that you have come to expect.

We are implementing these precautionary measures:

1. Conducting as much business as possible by email, text, or phone. 
2. Site visits will continue but with limited in-person meetings. When in-person contacts are necessary, we will follow “social distancing” guidelines.
3. Our display yard is always open for you to examine at your leisure. All displays have a numbered, red tag on them. If you want more information or pricing, please reference that number.

Is there More?

4. Some employees will be working remotely, but they are always available by phone. 
5. Any employee with symptoms or illness is sent home. 
6. We continue to provide estimates and invoices by email to make the process paperless.
7. Crew starting times are being staggered to limit social interactions.
8. We keep the same crews together to limit cross interactions.

With these measures, we hope everyone will stay safe, and we will be back to normal operations

What can you do to help us? 

1.  Please conduct as much business as possible via emails, messaging, and emails. This step protects everyone involved.
2. When you see our crews installing equipment, please practice “social distancing.”

Thank you for allowing us to work with you.


Please call, message, or email us with any questions.

Let’s all stay safe!


Jerry @ (920) 493-4404 or Jerry@wisconsinpws.com – Commercial work & new/used Sales.
Dave @ (920) 905-2588 or Dave@wisconsinpws.com – Erosion control & shoreline work.
John @ (920) 493-4405 or John@wisconsinpws.com – Scheduling & Service work



Wire Rope Lubricants

Wire rope lubrication is critical to extending the life of a cable (often referred to as the “lift cable”). How significant is it? Failure to complete this simple maintenance can reduce wire rope life by up to 50%. 

Tell me more!

A wire rope consists of wire strands wound around a central core, then again wound around themselves to form a wire rope. The center may consist of steel or even plastics. Here are just some of the MANY different configurations for a wire rope.

wire rope configurations

Wire Rope Configurations

The use of a small strand size is better suited to bending around small sheaves (pulleys). Taken to an extreme, a wire made of one thick “strand” would not be able to go around a pulley. 

Many small strands allow the wire rope to bend easily around the pulleys. In doing so, the strands “rub” against each other, causing friction. Over time, friction rubs any external coatings off the wire rope.

How are the wire rope strands protected against rust?

Uncoated wire rope strands left “uncoated” will rust from exposure to moisture in the air; 

The cable strands get a coating of zinc for rust protection (called galvanizing). The steel strands travel through a hot zinc bath to coat the surface with rust protection. The “con” to galvanized cables – the surface does not regenerate when damaged.

What about stainless steel cables?

In simplest terms, when molten high carbon steel mixes with chromium, it forms stainless steel. When in contact with air, the chrome restores the anti-rust properties. The “con” side – it gives up small amounts of strength.

What function does lubricating a wire rope perform?

Wire rope lubricants;

1. Reduce friction in the layers of the wire rope as they move over other layers. It’s true for galvanized & stainless steel cables both; and 

 2. Lubricants provide corrosion protection and lubrication in the core of the cable. Less rust and friction means longer life for the cables. 

Are there different lubricants used?

image of Boat Lift Cable Lubricant

Boat Lift Cable Lubrication

There are different types of wire rope lubricants – penetrating and coating. Solvents in penetrating oils carry a lubricant into the core of the wire rope. When the solvent evaporates, it leaves behind a lubricating film to protect the strands.

“Coating” lubricants (grease) barely penetrate a cable. The coating seals the outside of the cable from moisture and reduces wear and corrosion. But, it also seals moisture inside the cable, thus promoting the rusting process.

PWS recommends only penetrating lubricants.  

Most wire ropes fail on the inside first. It is vital to ensure that the center core receives enough lubrication. Repeated applications over a day are a good idea.

It is best to apply short bursts of spray lubricant on the top cables wound around the drum. Spray across the top of the wires to get the best penetration and protection. The rope strands tend to separate slightly due to bending around the winch drum. This separation allows the lubricant better access to the core of the wire rope.

Four Rules to follow:

  1. Do not apply a grease lubricant on a boat lift cable;
  2. Never change the diameter of the lift cable;
  3. Never substitute a different wire construction; and
  4. Do not replace stainless steel cables with galvanized cables. 

Experience suggests that life cycles may double with lubrication. But remember, there are other factors affecting wire rope life also.

PWS attributes the increase in the life cycle to the use of penetrating oil to displace water and decrease friction. The oil reduces the wear and corrosion occurring inside the rope. Spraying with a penetrating lubricant acts like an oil change for cars. You’d never allow your vehicle to run out of oil. Right?

The savings from lubrication versus replacing a lift cable are considerable. 

What else can damage a boat lift cable?

Improper winding and shock loading with heavy loads damage the cables. These actions will speed up wear and corrosion. See this link.


In a previous post, we explained the danger to boat lift cables if the waves hit the bottom of your boat. We also demonstrated what defective wires look. 

7 x 7 cable construction

Rust on galvanized cable

Once again, here are the warning signs of defects in your cables. 

Broken Strands

If your cable looks like any of these, it’s time to replace them. 


Warning – It is possible to break strands inside a cable without any exterior signs of damage. This situation is especially true on stainless steel cables which do not rust. If you see “rust” on a stainless steel cable, it is from the winch drum depositing rust in the winding process.

Visit Pier & Waterfront Solutions on Facebook also.

Tell Your Friends & Family

Have friends or neighbors you believe would like to see this article? Email them this link – they’ll thank you! 

Where is PWS?

You will find us at the intersection of Idlewild Road and Hwy 57 in Door County. The address is 7325 St. Hwy 57, Sturgeon Bay. That’s 3 miles south of Sturgeon Bay, and 1 mile north of the intersection with Cty MM.

Our staff looks forward to serving ALL your waterfront needs. 


Dave @ (920) 905-2588 or Dave@wisconsinpws.com – erosion control and shoreline work.
    Jerry @ (920) 493-4404 or Jerry@wisconsinpws.com – commercial work and new & used Sales.
        John @ (920) 493- 4405 or John@wisconsinpws.com – Scheduling & Service work.



Cable Maintenance

In last weeks article, (https://wisconsinpws.com/boat-lift-cable/) we discussed why your boat lift cable would not last forever. 

This week we get into more detail and explain what you can do. We discuss the most critical causes of cable problems and what you can do to protect them.

There are two types of cable material used for boat lifts:

  • Galvanized; and
  • Stainless steel.

Rust on galvanized cable

Galvanized Steel is made of carbon steel which on its own is not resistant to rust. It is made corrosion resistant by running the cable through a hot bath of molten zinc. As long as the coating is on the wire “fibers,” it will resist the formation of rust.

Stainless Steel is also made of carbon steel. However, when mixed with about 10% chromium, it will form a stainless steel cable. It resists oxidation or corrosion. The chromium in the steel forms a layer of chromium oxide that promotes resistance to corrosion. 

When the stainless steel wire is exposed to oxygen, the protective coating will REGENERATE. The anti-corrosion protection of the chromium maintains the resistance of the steel to rust.

Galvanized steel is less expensive than stainless steel due to the differences in the processing of each. Galvanized steel is durable, and each cable is sized to handle the loads created by your boat lift.

No – you can NOT increase the boat lift rating by merely increasing the size of the cable used. If you simply increase the diameter of the cable, you must also increase the size of the drum, or you risk early failure. The larger wire is stiffer and cannot bend around a smaller drum without damage.

Keep this information in mind if a neighbor or visitor wants to put their boat on your lift when it is empty. Know the weight of the new boat.

See https://wisconsinpws.com/boat-lift-calculations-part-4/    for additional information about cable maintenance.

Boat Positioning

image of a Boat stern overhanging the lift

Boat stern overhanging too far

Make sure your boat is positioned correctly on the lift. If it’s not far enough forward, it will put excessive weight on the rear cables and the frame structure.  On the other hand, if the boat is too far forward, you may damage the lower motor assembly or break the front cables due to excess weight.

In general, a boat has most of its weight at the stern where the motor is. As a result, to maintain proper balance on your lift, the boat stern should be about 6″ to12″ from the lift rack. See the above article for more information.

When properly balanced, the weight is evenly distributed across the lift rack. A balanced boat prevents overloading one end of the lift.

Note – unusually long boats, may be an exception to the 6-12″ rule. You must be especially careful to find the proper balance. Proper balance will minimize potential damage to the cables.

To summarize, take care of your cables, and they will last for years.

What Cable Maintenance Can I do by myself?

1. Make a visual inspection of the cables regularly. It is helpful to do this when the lift rack is in its lowest position to expose more cable. Look for chafing, corrosion or a flat cable especially near the winch box.

Don’t forget – do this inspection with leather gloves on to protect your hands. 

image of Boat Lift Cable Lubricant

Boat Lift Cable Lubricant

2. At the beginning of the boating season, be sure to apply a burst of penetrating oil to the top of the cables around the winch drum. The penetrating oil will work its way down the wires as needed. Raise the rack halfway up and carefully apply another burst of penetrating oil to the winch drum. NEVER use grease on the cables. It traps moisture inside the strands.  Do not be afraid to do it more often during the summer months, if you use the boatlift frequently.

Most quality lifts use Stainless Steel cables for a majority of cables and (1) galvanized cable as the main winch cable.

3. Watch the winch drum to ensure that the cable is wrapping smoothly on the drum.

Stainless steel lift cables also benefit from penetrating oil. We recommend this procedure in Spring, halfway through the boating season and again in Fall after removal.

To summarize, take care of your cables, and they may last for yearsRemember, the cables and the winch do all the “work” on your lift. They do the lifting by raising the rack assembly with the weight of the watercraft on it. That’s a lot of weight so the cables must be well maintained.

In Conclusion

In Spring and Fall (and at least once during the summer months), put a short blast or two of PENETRATING oil on the cables wrapped around the winch drum from the top of the winch. Do not soak the wire until it drips when in the water. You don’t want to contaminate the water. Use only penetrating oil as the lubricant.

NEVER use grease (it traps the moisture inside the cable accelerating its deterioration).

Cable maintenance begins with inspecting cables for frays and rust – Caution – wear leather gloves to prevent injury to your hands. Check near the top of the winch cable as this is the most common area for frays. Replace as needed, if corrosion is present.

Check the alignment of all cables on the pulleys.  Simply follow the cables down until they wrap around a pulley.  Are they On a pulley or is the cable off to one side?  Call PWS if they are.

With your watercraft on the rack – check for any slack in the cables. All cables should be equal in tension. Contact PWS for adjustment, if needed.

Look for cable corrosion near the winch with the rack fully down (but without slack in the lifting cables.

Remember, the cables and the winch do all the “work” on your lift. They do the lifting by raising the rack assembly with the weight of the watercraft on it. That’s a lot of weight so the cables must be well maintained.


Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) specializes in all ShoreMaster docks, lifts, and accessories.

We are located in the center of Door County at 7325 St Hwy 57, just south of Sturgeon Bay at the intersection with Idlewild Road. Our staff looks forward to serving all of your waterfront needs.

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email Jerry@wisconsinpws.com for more information. 



Typical Lift cable

That’s true!  Your cables will eventually need replacement.  When?  That depends on you. If you’ve been around boat lifts for any length of time you have seen problems with boat lifts.  Typical problems include corrosion, chafe, broken strands or kinks on the cables..

Let’s start by looking at the typical construction of a lift cable.   



7 x 7 cable construction



The most common types are the 7 x 7 and 7 x 19 construction. As you can see they are not simply a wire hanging down that lifts your boat up.  They are more complex than that. 

The individual strands are wrapped together as shown  Then they are wrapped again around a core.  


There are two types of wear:

External abrasion

image of Typical Cable Stacking

Typical Cable Stacking

This occurs when the cable bends around the winch drum and lift pulleys.  On the winch drum, they rub against the adjoining wire or the drum sides.  This rubbing causes wear on the external strands which will eventually wear through the individual stands. 

If the cable doesn’t wrap properly, it starts to stack on the side of the winch drum.  When the cable eventually slips off the “stack”, even though it is only dropping 1/4″ to 1/2″, the resulting noise shocks anyone nearby. It was under hundreds of pounds of pressure from the boat.  This situation is usually caused by misalignment of the winch drum or a poorly threaded situation. 

New ShoreMaster winches are attached with a complete housing around the upright post which prevents this from happening due to winch misalignment.  More on this later in this discussion.

Internal abrasion

Internal abrasion occurs whenever strands work against each other under load.  Each time a boat is raised or lowered over a winch drum, there is internal wear. Each strand of wire in the winding is moving at a slightly different speed. Abrasion of the strands is the result. When you lose too many strands, you lose a lot of strength. This condition cannot be eliminated but it can be controlled by using the proper size winch drum and pulleys.

A point often overlooked – internal abrasion and the resulting corrosion or rust in a galvanized cable, can be hidden and may not show visible damage. A cable like this may sometimes fail without prior warning.


Experts say that to be safe, replace a galvanized cable every two years.  All things being equal, stainless wires will last longer-up to twice as long. But don’t rush out and try to change all your cables to stainless. Galvanized cable has its place on your lift.  For one, they are stronger than stainless steel and can bend easier around the pulley and winch drum.  

An improperly positioned boat may send your boat into the water.  See https://wisconsinpws.com/boat-lift-safety-updated/ for more information.

When in doubt, replace the cable. Trying to squeeze another year out of the cable isn’t worth the risk of dropping your boat or personal injury.


image of frayed lift cable

Frayed Boat Lift Cable

Chafe or fraying – are those fine broken strands that poke or cut your hands when you slide your hands along the cable.  If you catch your clothes when they brush against a cable you have “chafe” or fraying.

Chafe may be the result of faulty sheave alignment or improper drum winding.

Lowering a lift rack without any weight on it, especially on a small lift like a PWC lift, may also result in a “backlash.”  This is discussed later.

Note: Be aware that most winches require at least 50 lbs of weight to work correctly.


Broken Strands

Broken strands are very dangerous. Boat lifts with this type of damage should be replaced immediately.


image of corroded & Frayed cable

Corroded & Frayed Boat lift Cable

Corrosion presents a significant problem for galvanized cables. When the protective layer of galvanizing wears through as discussed above, corrosion will begin. Corrosion may not always be visible to the naked eye. The first time you become aware of the corrosion could be when the cable breaks.

Corrosion may also occur “inside” the cable with little or no external evidence of the damage as discussed above. Any cable showing external signs of rust or corrosion needs replacement.


image of Boatlift Cable backlash

Boat lift cable backlash

When a lift is lowered to the bottom and the winch continues to move the result will be a Backlash.  If there is insufficient tension on the cables they will “spring” in every direction on the winch drum. When you retighten the cable, the loose cables become snarled and can wrap up like a backlash in a fishing reel.


Whenever a cable experiences a backlash DO NOT use your bare hands to repair the problem (chafe). You won’t soon forget this if it happens to you. People have also lost fingers when a cable snaps back onto a winch drum.  Make sure you wear leather gloves and keep tension on the cable at all times. Keep your hand at least 12″ from the winch to prevent entanglement.

When you experience a backlash, lower the boat into the water to prevent the cables from interleaving further on the drum.


Never use bare fingers or pliers to align the cables. As always, carefully handle it to avoid breakage of the wire strands.

Next, unwind the winch while keeping tension on it. Do this until you see the bottom layer on the drum. Re-wrap the cable onto the winch drum while maintaining tension. Rewind it in even layers. Be sure to close any gaps between the cable on the winch drum.

Finally, it is time to return your boat to the lift to raise it, making sure the cable continues to wind smoothly. If the problem persists, call your lift dealer (that’s PWS)


image of Properly wound boat lift cable

Properly wound cable

“Memory” allows the cable to play out and rewind onto the drum in a neat pattern. The wire must wind in a set pattern. Loose that “memory” and misalignment occurs which will cause the cable to turn against the side of the winch drum.

Maintain tension at all times to prevent the cable from interleafing with the windings in a lower layer. Fill in each layer completely, leaving no gaps.


Next week we give you more information about boat lift cables and what you can do to lengthen their life.


Pier & Waterfront Solutions (PWS) specializes in all ShoreMaster docks, lifts, and accessories.

We are located in the center of Door County at 7325 St Hwy 57, just south of Sturgeon Bay at the intersection with Idlewild Road. Our staff looks forward to serving all of your waterfront needs.

Call Jerry at 920-493-4404 or Email Jerry@wisconsinpws.com for more information. 





Purchasing a boat lift (new or used) can be very confusing.  There is a lot to consider before making your selection. This article will assist you in making the right decision.

Let’s start with, where will you be using the boat lift?

Why is location important? The location will be an essential consideration for determining the suitability of a boat lift for the body of water you are on.  Will you be on the Bay of Green Bay, Lake Winnebago, a river or a small inland lake?

On larger bodies of water, vertical boat lifts are the preferred choice. Why? The answer is the extra lifting height you get versus a cantilever lift.

2019 Storm Challenges


2019 is proving to be a challenging year for most dock and boat lift owners. With record-setting water depths and strong, frequent storms, owners see the need for the higher lifting capacities.

Unlike people on small lakes, the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Winnebago present unique problems for boaters. The reasons are the storm surges. A storm surge is caused by sustained winds blowing in one direction with no rivers or creeks on the leeward side to relieve the pressure of the water piling up. Wave action of 4 or more feet on top of a water surge makes the situation even worse.

These two factors combined, mean you will need a lift that raises high enough to keep your investment from being damaged. You also need the most durable frame construction possible.

Frame strength is achieved by using a more substantial square or rectangular frame versus a round, thin tube. If the frame is not strong enough, you won’t get the extra protection your boat deserves. That’s why PWS only handles ShoreMaster boat lifts.

Rivers have unique problems in the form of fluctuations in water depth in early spring from snow melting and heavy rain runoff during the season.  Any boat lift must be capable of handling the changing water levels here too.

Depth of water is another consideration.

Vertical lifts, with a “V” rack, require about 6″ of water plus the draft of the boat to operate.  This low water requirement is vital if the water recedes in late summer or fall.

Boat length, width, and weight affect your choice.

PWS recommends that you consider not only the length, width, and weight of the boat you currently have, but also the possibility of a larger boat in the future.  It will save you money in the long run. People frequently change to a bigger, better boat, so you should not ignore this issue.  

Why do we insist on checking the weight you give us for your boat?

It’s not that we don’t trust you – we simply don’t trust you, but in a good way. Our reputation is on the line with every lift we sell, so it has to be the right one for your needs. Some salespeople quickly choose the lift you “need” without even looking up the Specifications to be sure. Remember, the weight is more than the boat weight.

See also https://wisconsinpws.com/boat-lift-calculations-part-4/

Will you raise the boat by hand or do you need a motor?

image of 24 V Solar Panel arrangement

24 V Solar Panel arrangement

Do you want to raise your boat with the winch wheel or use a remote-controlled motor to do the work for you?  12V/24V D.C. motors power most boat lifts with 120V A.C. used less frequently.


Nature charges your battery via a solar panel, and there is no cost to do it.

A.C. versions, while available, require 120 V power at the boat site and require more care to prevent electrical shock.


What are the Frame Materials?

image of corroded & Frayed cable

Corroded & Frayed Boatlift Cable

The most popular boat lifts in N.E. Wisconsin have aluminum frames and stainless steel cables.  

There are still a few steel boat lifts around.

 But they are few and far between due to their weight, limited lifting heights and susceptibility to rust.

Aluminum boat lifts will have either galvanized or stainless steel cables. Sometimes they have a combination of both materials.  Stainless steel cables last as much as 2-4 times longer than galvanized steel cables and don’t rust.


What about the pulleys on the lift?


image of ShoreMaster Brass Pulleys

ShoreMaster Brass Pulleys

Pulleys on boat lifts will be either plastic, steel or brass construction. Robust brass pulleys with stainless steel hubs are

image of SS Rail

Plastic Pulleys

the best choice while plastic pulleys are not recommended even on the lighter PWC lifts. The heavier the boat, the more critical it is to have stainless steel and brass materials.

Plastic pulleys become brittle over time. Eventually, the edges break off, and the cable gets jammed between the frame and the pulley. Raising a boat with a jammed cable is extremely hard to do.

Who will install the boat lift?

A professional company is best suited to do this for you.

Boat lifts in the 5000# range or larger, definitely require professional installation and removal services. It’s not a job for amateurs. Do you have a dependable provider for this service?  PWS has experienced, trained people and the necessary equipment to do it for you,

What is the Warranty?

Many boat lifts come with a 1 or 2-year factory structural warranty.  Some have five-year, and a few even have a 10-year warranty.   ShoreMaster boat lifts carry a full 15-year structural warranty.  The 15-year warranty is the best on the market. 

SEE  https://shoremasteravala.blob.core.windows.net/media/1588/shoremaster-warranty-12142016.pdf

Now it’s up to you! Our recommendation? See what your neighbors have to say about PWS. 

Customer Testimonials

Do you have a friend that might be interested in this post?  Please forward it to them.

Pier & Waterfront Solutions

PWS is located at 7325 St. Hwy 57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and 3 miles south of Sturgeon Bay at the Idlewild Road intersection.  Or – for more information, you can call Jerry @ 920-493-4404.