All about Winches : on Off-Road.Com

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF
*This information was compiled from information submitted by individuals and manufacturers of the mentioned products. The WEB PAGE™ does not guarantee the accuracy of this information, and is not responsible for the information contained herein. However, if a reader would like to submit an update or correction to the information provided here, we would be glad to include that as well.
Originally prepared by Steve Williams in June 1993 (not associated with The WEB PAGE in any way), and has been updated by The WEB PAGE February 1996 with additional information provided on Hydraulic Winches.
Introduction Choosing between a PTO and an electric-driven winch can be argued a million different ways -- and that seems to apply to winches in general. Each type of winch and even size of winch has advantages and disadvantages in each different situation -- there truly is no one single solution to the multitude of recovery needs 'wheelers keep finding. The first step in choosing a winch is selecting the type of winch. From there, the line pull rating is arguably the next most important feature. This rating is the maximum static load the winch can exert on the cable, measured on the first wrap of the cable on the drum. Each successive wrap of cable on the drum decreases the available torque by about 12% -- that means that a full spool pull wcan't be as powerful as a pull with most of the cable spooled out. Take this into account when selecting a winch for your 4X4. The line pull, line speed, and current draw (applicable only to an Electric Winch; a Hydraulic winch does not have this problem) indicates when a weight of X lbs. is pulled, it will be pulled at Y ft/min using Z amps. These numbers vary widely from winch to winch. They should be an important consideration in a winch purchase. It is best to ask an experienced winch owner to determine what is best for you. Questions to the offroad mailing list about this are welcome. Weight is an indicator of the construction of the winch. Winches must be very STRONG. Too little weight means too little metal used in the construction. Too much weight could mean that your front end will sag. A benefit of the Hydraulic winch is that it does weigh less. Project WomBAT demonstrates a well-rigged snatch block pull. The snatch block is anchored to the tree with an environmentally friendly wide strap, and the block allows the winch to 'see' a straight pull from dry, solid ground. We'll assume that this fella is planning to move out of the way once the picture is done! Q. What does using a snatch block achieve? A. It almost doubles your available pulling power. It actually offers an increase of 85%, if you factor in safety considerations. Snatch also allow you to safely perform pulls at an angle to your truck. People arein situation that require more control.
Be sure that your winch accessories (hooks, straps, shackles, snatch blocks, etc.) are rated to operate with this increased load.
Q. When I double up the winch line using the snatch block, where should I attach the return line. A. If the snatch block is attached to another vehicle, which you are trying to free, then attach the return line to a third vehicle or tree to optimally distribute the load. If the snatch block is anchored to a tree and you are trying to free yourself, then attach the return line to your vehicle's frame. DO NOT hook it back on to the winch mount as this will effectively double the load on the mounting plate.
Q. What is the best way of anchoring my vehicle when I'm trying to winch another vehicle out of trouble? A. Anchor your vehicle to another vehicle or any other fixed object using your tow strap, tree saver, choker chain etc. The one thing to remember is attach the anchor strap to your vehicle at the same end as your winch, otherwise you can stretch and distort your vehicle's frame.
Q. Can I operate my winch without running the motor? A. You can operate an electrical winch without running the motor, but only for short pulls. The truck's motor should be running and spinning the alternator during winch operation to minimize battery drain and maximize winch power and speed. If you winch much without the motor running, the battery may be to weak to restart the engine. Statistics for commonly available winches, including weight, gear ratio, cable length, and motor horsepower. Product-specific reviews:

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