Guide to Repairing a Hills Hoist Winder

The Hills Hoist is an icon of the Australian suburban backyard.

It’s hard to imagine a backyard clothesline without thinking of the rotary design that was invented and marketed by Lance Hill in 1945.

Though other rotary designs had come before it, the Hills Hoist quickly became a symbol of the Australian suburban ideal and remains so today.

However, while Hills Hoist clotheslines are known to stand the test of time, they do occasionally run into problems.

What could be wrong with your Hills Hoist

There are many reasons why your Hills Hoist winder may not be working.

These include:

  • Rust inside the lower section
  • The old plastic winders can become bent or worn and stop turning freely.
  • A worn-out internal washer
  • A worn-down stabiliser plug
  • Sticks, stones, or other material blocking the mechanism
  • Internal lock bolts can become rusted or stuck
  • The gearbox may cease functioning due to corrosion

How to repair a Hills hoist winder

If you find that the winder has stopped working, what should you do?

  • The first step is to try spraying WD40 into the space around the winder. If the winding mechanism itself has become stuck, this may help.
  • Hills heritage clotheslines have a small grease hole above or near the handle. Apply oil or lubricant in this hole to lubricate the internal mechanism.

If you are lucky, one of these approaches will be enough to get your Hills hoist back up and running.

However, in most cases, you’ll need to remove the winder and its casing from the clothesline.

hills hoist washing line | Other

Here is Hills’ guide for removing the handle.

Tidy up both the bottom and upper sections of tubing with a wire brush and have a look around for any damage.

Lift the top section of the clothesline off and locate the rating screw and gear mechanisms.

Look for any damage in this area.

If there is minor corrosion or build-up in these areas you may be able to fix it with a high-pressure air blower and/or iron brush and apply some grease before reassembling.

Locate the washers – do they look like they are in the right place? Are they worn out and need replacement?

The best approach is to take as much apart as you can and try and assess whether anything looks damaged or out of place.

This will help you determine whether you need replacement parts, a professional repairer, or can attempt a DIY repair.

If you’re looking to take the DIY route, this forum discussion includes a range of photos from disassembled Hills Hoist which readers may find helpful.

How do Hills recommend you fix a rotary hoist that isn’t winding?

hills hoist washing line 2 | Other

In their support forum, Hills recommends the following options for fixing a broken winding mechanism:

  • If the head is at its lowest point, you may try rotating the handle clockwise and pushing the head up at the same time.
  • If the head is at its highest point you may try to rotate the handle anti-clockwise and pull the head down at the same time.

They state that these methods can help reset the mechanism inside the clothesline.

Can you buy replacement parts for a Hills hoist?

Hills Parts stocks a range of genuine replacement parts for Hills hoist clotheslines.

These include:

  • Lower cross rotary
  • Rotary handle and case
  • Rotary socket
  • Heritage clothesline repair kit
  • Heritage clothesline pinion assembly
  • Winding Gear Assembly

Do Hills hoist clotheslines come with a warranty?

Yes, all Hills products come with generous warranties.

Both the Everyday and Premium range of rotary hoists come with a 10-year warranty.

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Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY and is always looking for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking meals with produce harvested from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.


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