Sometimes on sailing ships or in primitive mills, torque is supplied by several people walking around a big wheel, each pushing an attached lever. Or the lever might be pulled by a donkey. What do you call this kind of wheel? You sometimes see them in movies like pirates of the Caribbean.

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    Windlass, capstan, or winch, depending on which feature you're focusing on. – Hot Licks Jun 16 '16 at 16:23
  • @HotLicks Could you expand this into an answer, in particular pointing out the distinction between the terms, and which features go with which? – R.M. Jun 16 '16 at 18:33
  • I'm not really up on marine terminology enough to give an authoritative answer. A capstan is a vertical-axis thingie (as pictured by ratchet freak). A windlass is usually horizontal-axis. A winch is a bit more generic. There are issues as to whether the rope is collected on the device or simply wrapped around it a few turns (as pictured) -- a winch most certainly collects the rope, a capstan hardly ever. – Hot Licks Jun 17 '16 at 11:43


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a broad revolving cylinder with a vertical axis used for winding a rope or cable, powered by a motor or pushed round by levers.



A winch. Sometimes a grinder which is really short for a grinder winch. More modern ships tend to use either mechanical or standing grinder winches known as coffee grinders.

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