Winch is a term that comes from Nahuatl malacatl, which refers to a “Spinning thing”. It is a machine that is used in the field of mining to extract mainly water and minerals.

The winch works as a winch (a winch used to lift and move very heavy items). The first winches had levers hooked to knights that made their movement possible, having a drum in its upper part.


Although it is related to mining, the winch is used in several fields

Winches allow dragging and removing materials from inside mines. These devices, depending on the case, can be installed inside the mine or outside. There are the hydraulic winches, the electric winches and the diesel winches, according to the type of energy they receive for their operation.

Winches are commonly used on coal mines, the zinc mines, the silver mines, the iron mines and the copper mines, among other. The power of motor; the diameter and capacity of the cable; and the load capacity are some of the characteristics that differ between the various equipment.

With the winch it is possible to promote both the descent and the ascent of materials, but also supplies and even of operators. For this they are used cages that are attached to the cable, which is wound and unfolded by the drum.

Brief history

In various hieroglyphs it can be seen that already in century XII a. C. the winch existed with a similar utility, that is, for the extraction of water and minerals. At the base of the oldest models, a series of poles were placed to tie the horses that they had to pull to generate the movement.

Over time it was possible to operate the winch with electric power, so that animal exploitation was no longer necessary. Some types of winch do not use electricity but hydraulic systems. In addition to mining, it is used in the automotive industry and on construction sites.

A tortera

Another meaning of the term winch defines it as a tortera, also called fusayola or steering wheel. It is an object that is used as a counterweight on the vertical spindle or stop if it is put on its base. It can be made of various materials, such as stone, metal, bone or ceramic.

It is important not to confuse the winch with the loom weight, which serves to tension the thread. This can happen because it is sometimes called spinning weight, among other names that can lead to mistakes. The winch is part of certain spinning spindles to promote a greater uniformity at work and also to do it with faster.

Spinning spindle winch

A piece of the spinning spindle is also called a “winch”

There are several sizes of winch, a property that directly affects its weight. Taken to the spinning spindle, all this influences the thickness of the thread, if different winches are used for the same material, or the combination of several. It is important to properly affirm this part so that it rotates uniformly and symmetrically, taking the axis as a reference.

Before we mentioned that you can also put the winch on the base of the spindle; this is done to establish a limit for the winding of the thread. The origin of this instrument or the spinning spindle is not known, but there is evidence of its use in 5000 BC. C. from the Iberian Peninsula to the Middle East.

A contest for entrepreneurs

“Winch Challenge”, on the other hand, is the name of a competition promoted by the Río Tinto Foundation and the Atalaya Foundation. The contest seeks to give impetus to enterprises in the Huelva Mining Basin (Spain).