Staring at Stairs

For the past several years, I have been fortunate to be able to volunteer as a handyman for local families in need.  My current client, Dave, is a very nice gentlemen who has some difficulty moving groceries up his outside stairs due to some health issues.  Please see the picture below.


Dave had suggested the idea of a winch to move the groceries from the ground to his porch.  We explored that idea together and due to Dave’s limited mobility in his shoulders decided that the hand cranking  of  a winch might be difficult for him. So, on to Idea 2.


What I’m currently suggesting to Dave is a milk crate, mounted on wheels, that rides on top of his stair rail as shown below.

Milk Crate and Track

Milk Crate and Track

Now onto the lifting mechanism.  A preliminary survey of electric outdoor winches shows a huge disparity between this application and most current designs.  What is needed is a method to move a mass of approximately 30 pounds a distance of about 6 feet.  We don't need to move 1500 pounds 30 plus feet - typical Jeep winch work.

Hmmmm, need to simplify. As my friend the art major in College said "Less is More."

Another idea occurred to me last evening.  A fishing reel!  It is Minnesota after all. Should be one or two around here.


  • Low cost 
  • Less stress on shoulders
  • 25 to 30 Pound Force Rating
  • Clutch mechanism to prevent backsliding on lifting 
  • Press release to allow cart to return to start


  • How to mount fish line to avoid abrasion?
  • Will reel work in snow and ice. How can I protect it?

Please see next post for next steps.