The region’s deck machinery industry examined.
The deck machinery industry directly impacts working life for maritime industry professionals. New iterations of winch models or power blocks can make the difference on the job and informs new purchasing decisions.
Here are developments from some of the West Coast’s major deck machinery manufacturers.
LA CONNER MARITIME – La Conner and Mount Vernon, Wash.
La Conner Maritime was founded by Ed Oczkewicz in 1978 to make deck gear for commercial fishing boats. The company started providing field service in Bristol Bay around 1984. Ed’s son, Isaac Oczkewicz, carries on the tradition as La Conner Maritime’s general manager.
“One year ago, we moved the fabrication/deck gear division of our business from the La Conner yard to a shop/existing business we acquired in Mount Vernon, which has been a great way to diversify our talent in the off-season of deck-gear building and add capabilities,” Oczkewicz said, adding that the yard at La Conner is still maintained.
The company added three CNC machines to its machine-shop capabilities to handle both products its makes and orders from customers.
“We will now be able to keep additional aspects of production and lead time within our control, which will help us innovate faster, meet deadlines and control costs,” Oczkewicz said.
Notable improvements were recently enacted upon the company’s rotator gillnet drums used for bow-stern picker-style salmon gillnet boats to “enhance usability, efficiency and safety,” according to Oczkewicz. These changes include:
A slider lock pin was redesigned to lower the profile to improve ease of operation and make servicing and maintenance easier.
Slider hold downs were redesigned to be easier to install, stronger and simpler.
Rotator lock pins were replaced with heavy-duty stainless steel draw clamps for easier use, lower maintenance and simplicity.
The drum rotation mechanism, that uses a heavy-duty slew bearing design for deck crane operation, was refined to make drum rotation with net weight easier. Access with removeable cover was added to easily service grease zerks on bearings when needed.
Bestsellers this past year include rotator gillnet drums due to the number of bow-stern and through-picker boats being built.
“Two other very popular deck gear items continue to be our set net power rollers, used on set net skiffs, and our Big Bay roller, a more robust and capable version of the standard powered stern roller used on gillnet boats for years,” Oczkewicz explained.
Deck gear sales in the last year have doubled from the previous year, largely because of the ongoing success of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. Deck gear orders for this coming winter/spring build season are ramping up and will likely be on par with last year.
“Demand for deck machinery is currently strong, and we anticipate it remaining so as long as the market for Bristol Bay salmon is strong and customers continue to find value in the quality and innovation found in our deck gear,” Oczkewicz said. “We have more orders for deck gear on the books now for the next build season (the winter of 2022-2023) than we have had as long as I can remember in my 25 years with the company.”
Kinematics Marine Equipment Inc. – Marysville, Wash.
Kinematics Marine Equipment Inc. has been in the deck machinery game for more than 40 years. Their products and services span the commercial fishing, research vessel and work boat sectors. Kinematics makes and services net drums, drum drives, winches, gill net rollers, power blocks and deck winches for seining, levelwinds, pot haulers, capstans and more.
“Kinematics offers a variety of deck equipment from the East to West Coast. We don’t see any lack of equipment to build,” said James Davis, shop manager of Kinematics Marine Equipment Inc. “This last year has definitely had its challenges.”
The availability of hydraulic motors and materials fell, while longer-than-normal lead times from various venders were challenges.
Despite the supply chain obstacles, the company has been busy with refits, primarily Bristol Bay commercial fishing vessel refits.
“Our sonar winches for oceanographic surveying have been increasing steadily,” Davis said about deck machinery trends he’s observed.
Integrity Machining, Inc. (Makers of Kolstrand Equipment) – Marysville, Wash.
Integrity Machining is the worldwide supplier of Kolstrand, JK Fab, Nordic and Forfjord marine equipment serving the industrial and commercial maritime sectors. Prominent Kolstrand equipment includes hydraulic power blocks, pot haulers, anchor winches, purse winches and trolling gurdies.
Integrity also manufactures complete seining and pot-fishing systems. The company moved from its historic Seattle location to a larger manufacturing facility in Marysville, Wash. in 2019.
“In addition to organic growth from new product launches, Integrity Machining acquired the assets of both JK Fabrication and Forfjord Safety Anchor to complement its product lines. These acquisitions have positioned the company for significant growth. To meet the demand, Integrity invested in waterjet technology that improves quality control and reduces assembly times for most product lines,” Integrity Machining General Manager Justin Fontes said.
According to the company, Integrity’s top-selling products are Kolstrand power blocks and purse winches, Nordic 17″ and 24″ long-line haulers and clutched winches, as well as JK Fab emergency storage reels and direct drive stainless anchor winches. Kolstrand’s newest products include multi-spool stainless trolling gurdies, vanging shocks, ultra-light ring hooks and a 44″ line hauler.
MARKEY MACHINERY – Seattle, Wash.
Seattle-based Markey Machinery is a leader in marine winch fabrication and servicing. The company prides itself on its full-custom winches used around the world. The company has roots back to 1907 when Charles Markey founded it after two years on a trade expedition on the Alaskan and Siberian coasts. The current owner and CEO is Blaine Dempke.
“We are currently manufacturing six AGILE-Class winches in three different variations, including 200-horsepower and 450-horsepower models, for U.S. and Canadian customers,” Markey Vice President Scott Kreis said.
Markey has upgraded its Class III Electric Escort Winches aimed at escort tugboats that were first developed more than two decades ago. Markey’s new line of AGILE-Class Electric Escort Winches is the new iteration of the Class III.
The company touts the following benefits to the new AGILE-Class:
- All above-deck installation to free up under deck space.
- Reduced winch weight by 10-15%.
- Winch control and monitoring via ethernet network to provide better control and ease of remote access troubleshooting.
- Advances in Markey Asymmetric Render/Recover programming to support control integration of the slip brake and drive for higher performance and safety.
Markey also says that the AGILE-Class winches share the following features with all Markey Class III Escort Winches:
- Line speeds fast enough to keep slack out of the hawser line during maneuvers between one position and another.
- Multi-speed gearing and ability to shift gears on the fly.
- Internal disc clutches to support true freewheel, which is valuable for many operations, including emergency escape.
- The new winch has fine brake control from lowest to highest line rendering speeds and line pulls. Inclusion of a water-cooled slip brake allows this capability, both in freewheel and to augment Render Only, Render/Recover, and Asymmetric Render/Recover modes.
- A heavy-duty level wind is included to help prevent pull-down events and assure predictable and even spooling on both sides of the mid-flange. This is important for dynamic winches that rely on operator torque control and line-tension feedback. Winches without spooling devices risk the line knifing into lower layers and/or piling up, thus compromising line-tension settings and the display of line tension, line speed and scope.
Maximum Performance Hydraulics – Seattle, Wash.
Maximum Performance Hydraulics specializes in marine and industrial hydraulics, winches and cranes. The company opened its doors in 2000 and acquired Pacific Winch and Hoist in 2001. Currently, the company has a 22,000-square-foot facility with more than 25 employees.
Its lineup of products includes both electrical and hydraulic winches, hydraulic pumps and motors, Rotek bearings, hydraulic cylinders and parts, and a full line of Parker Hose and Fittings. Notable projects from the last few years include a crane removal, overhaul and reinstall for the f/v Saga of “Deadliest Catch” notoriety and a net-handling crane rebuild for the f/v Defender.
Norris Comer is a Seattle-based writer and author. His debut memoir, Salmon in the Seine: Alaskan Memories of Life, Death, & Everything In-Between is now available wherever books are sold. You can find him on Substack, Instagram and at norriscomer.com.