Despite the huge number of advantages and popularity, electric winches also have some disadvantages. They make the vehicle front heavier; they can drain the battery; and finally, for some off-roaders, they are quite expensive.
Such disadvantages have other winch buyers asking: is the electric winch worth all its troubles? Or is there a more viable option? Are not manual winches lighter? Do they not conserve energy? And aren’t they very affordable?
Yes, manual winches are better than electric winches with regards to those questions. But before deciding to opt for manual winches, there are still more questions to be asked.
Is it possible to recover Jeeps using only hand winches? Or maybe such mechanisms are only good as a spare? How comfortable are hand winches? Is it possible to pull out a stuck Jeep with their help and how is it difficult to do?
As a test, we will analyze the winches of the two most common types – drum and lever – and try to find out whether you should get a manual winch for Jeep or not.
The Drum Mechanism Test
We are interested in the possibilities of manual winches when pulling a stuck car. There were rare situations in which a manual winch was used to retrieve a Jeep where it was discovered that it can be often done with a relatively small effort – 2650 pounds (1200 kg), 2200 pounds (1000 kg), or even 1100 pounds (500 kg). Of course, we were told about those cases when the driver has not landed the car on the axle or made the mud shaft in front of it.
Almost all drum winches did not give the declared effort. And the point is not in their weakness but in the small length of the handle. Therefore, you must work with such devices with your own weight, leaning on the lever with your whole body. In addition, the practice has shown that only a steel cable is suitable for large efforts, synthetic ropes quickly wear out.
But the return stroke of drum winches pleased me. In most models, it is made stepped, working from the same lever. The stopper allows the drum to roll a small angle in one swing, eliminating the stall.
Lever Winch in Action
Lever devices, unlike drum winches, are more suitable. Here, the length of the cable is not limited, and there is more effort. And what is really not good is a very heavy steel cable. It feels like it weighs 60 pounds. And also it is inconvenient to prepare for work – you have to carry the cable on a separate reel, completely unspool it before use, and then spool it again.
Of the advantages, it can be noted that this design virtually eliminates jamming and breakage, which will be important when working with heavy weight. If you are still thinking about, whether should you get manual winch for Jeep or not, then there are a few difficulties that you will encounter when choosing a lever device:
- Such a winch is large and it will be challenging to take it on a daily basis
- The peculiarity of the mechanism does not allow to pull a load of too much weight, which will be critical in extreme off-road conditions
- The complexity of the design requires the whole mechanism to be clean and complicated to maintain
As you can see, there are pros and cons everywhere. If to combine the compactness of drum devices with the advantages of lever mechanisms, such a winch could really claim to be ideal. But with frequent off-road driving, it could not replace electric winches.
What Conclusion Can Be Made?
A manual winch is just a budget option you may use as a spare. The main features of manual devices are a very simple design and a low price. However, saving money, you will have to invest a lot of your energy, because you need much more physical activity to activate a manual winch. In general, they are not very suitable for pulling large-sized machines out of the swamp and mud, but you should get a manual winch for your Jeep if you need it for pulling out of some impenetrable places, for example, while fishing or going to the forest for mushrooms.
Also, a manual winch will be very useful in a situation where it is not possible to use an electric winch. If you have a Jeep Wrangler, then without any doubt you should give preference to the lever type of winch.
However, such a device can take a toll on your physical health. Handheld winches require external forces to be used. Most of the time, that external force is from you. Essentially, a manual winch amplifies the force applied to it and uses the amplified force to pull. Putting force on a manual winch to pull extremely heavy objects, like a Jeep, can cause you back pain.
Although such tools are not and should not be preferred, they can still be really helpful in dire situations. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to you needing a drum mechanism winch or a lever winch. Should your electric winch fail, it is good to have a reliable option to fall back on.
If ever a time comes that you are forced to use a manual winch to pull your Jeep, just be aware of the risks it can involve to your physiology. Make sure that you do not strain yourself too much and try to maintain a healthy posture during the process as much as possible.
Some Rules for the Safe Use of a Manual Winch
To use the device to the maximum benefit without negative consequences, you need to follow several safety rules:
- It is prohibited to touch the hook or the cable when a tensile load acts on them, as well as to be near or step them over. A cable that has a potential to break is a ticking time bomb during a winching operation. It is an accident waiting to happen. When under load, the cable will retain kinetic energy that, when suddenly released upon breakage of the cable, will hold enough force to damage anything near it.
- The winch should not be loaded if no more than 5 turns of the cable remain on the drum so that it does not fall off the mount.
- The smaller the cable remaining, the greater the pulling force, as the diameter of the drum decreases, and the torque increases. This is physics that I will not embarrass myself with by explaining and making a fool of myself. But essentially, you should just remember that the smaller the diameter is of the drum and spooled cable, the more force is required to easily turn it.
- When spooling, it should be laid evenly and tightly so that the rope does not plastically deform.
- To pull out the car, the driver should always have two-layer gloves, and a special cargo should be hung on the cable, and in the absence of it, an old jacket or blanket. This is to protect yourself from kinks or frays of the cable.
- Do not attach the cable to a dry tree that could fall on the car. What you want to serve as your anchor is a fresh tree that still retains moisture. It should be healthy and strong. Or you can get an immovable rock – but a tree would be preferable.
- It is prohibited to connect a steel rope with extensions of other materials so that there is no breakage. You should think of the winch and everything it is connected to as a chain. The weakest link in the chain is the maximum strength of the entire chain. In the case of a winch, the more parts connected to the winch, the more likely it is to have a “link” that is weak and will break during operation.
- To protect the trees or poles from the cable, the winch is equipped with a protective band and shackle, which should always be included. Such winching accessories are invented for a reason. Utilize them. They are for your own good.
Compliance with safety regulations is especially important when you are in a forest or marshland, where the nearest medical care facility is far. The situation is complicated by the fact that your car is stuck in a swamp or puddle. Be careful and never lose your vigilance.
Drum mechanism and lever winches are tools that should be used with care. If used wrong or without enough caution, accidents and injury might be imminent. But if used correctly and with unfailing regard for safety first, then a successful winching operation can be achieved.