Off-road driving is a very exciting adventure, but sometimes your vehicle might get stuck on sand, mud or any other obstacles. If you have a winch installed on your vehicle, you’ll be able to get your vehicle unstuck.
If you’re new to winching or have little experience of winching, then this guide is for you. Read this article to enrich your knowledge about the winch.
If you don’t have a winch yet but planning to buy one. Then you can read my guides on top winches on the market.
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A winch looks like a simple device. But there are several components that make the winch functional. It is very important to know what each component does before you buy or learn using the winch. Here I have mentioned a few parts and components that you can find in most electric winches.
Motor: Electric winch motor is powered by the vehicle’s battery. The gear train mechanism gets power from the motor winch turns the winch drum and winds the winch line.
Drum: The drum is a hollow metal cylinder onto which the wire rope neatly wrapped. It’s also called winch spool. The motor and gear train drives the drum. The direction of the drum can be changed by remote control.
Gear Train: The reduction gear takes the power from the motor and converts the power into a mighty pulling force. This makes the winch enable to pull any kind of heavy loads.
Winch Line: The winch rope is wrapped around the drum and fed through the fairlead. Your winch will either come with synthetic rope or steel cable. The length and diameter of the winch line are determined by the winch’s load capacity.
Winch Fairlead: The fairlead guides the winch rope onto the drum while using the winch particularly at an angle. It reduces wire rope damage while it enters the winch mount or bumper. There are two types of fairlead: roller fairlead and hawse fairlead. To protect the winch rope, roller fairlead features four rollers on their sides, tops and bottoms.
Clutch: When the clutch is in free spool settings, it allows the drum to rotate freely. When the clutch is in engaged setting, it locks the winch drum to the motor and gear train. You must engage the clutch solidly to winch powerfully.
Braking System: The internal brake system automatically engages when the motor of the winch is stopped and there is load on the winch line. This prevents the winch from paying an unwanted winch line when the winch is off.
Control Box: All the electronic’s of winch are contained by the winch control box. It is generally mounted on the winch or near it. Many winches offer a waterproof control box to protect them from the elements.
Remote Control: The remote control allows the user to control the winch direction. Plus, it allows the operator to stand clear of the winch and winch cable while operating the winch. Remote controls have basically two types: Wired remote and wireless remote.
How To Use a Winch
Part 1: Rigging the Winch
1. Put on gloves. Never try to handle a winch rope without gloves.
2. Plug the remote control into the winch. Don’t let remote the cord dangle in front of the winch. Run the cable through to the driver’s seat to operate it from inside your vehicle. When the remote is not in use, disconnect it.
3. Find an anchor point that is in front of your vehicle. This must be powerful enough to hold while winching. You can use a boulder, large tree, stumps, rocks or other vehicles. It will be best if the anchor point is directly in front of your vehicle. Never anchor your winch to any weak or small object.
4. Release the winch cable. Do it by deploying the disengage lever.
5. Pull the winch cable to anchor point. Don’t pull so much that it becomes slack. If it fails to reach the anchor, then look for another one that’s closer to your vehicle.
6. Wrap a tree trunk protector around the lower part of the anchor point. Most winches come with tree-trunk protector. But if you didn’t get it with your winch, you can get one from any local market or order online. They are inexpensive.
7. Attach the D-ring shackle. Hook it through both of the loops on the tree trunk protector. Don’t tighten it too much.
8. Insert the winch hook to the D-ring shackle. You’ll find the winch hook at the end of the winch cable.
9. Lock the clutch. This will prevent the extra cable from coming out of the winch.
10. Use the remote control to slowly pull the winch cable taut. Start pulling the cable back into the winch by pressing the button on the remote. Continue it until you experience some tension.
Part 2: Pulling Your Vehicle Out
1. Clear the area. Tell everyone to stay back as far as possible to avoid any accidents. Before you start pulling, double-check to ensure that no one is standing near your vehicle.
2. Enter the vehicle and sit in the driver’s seat. Hold the remote control in your hand. Stay in the vehicle the whole time of winching.
3. Use the remote control and Winch the vehicle slowly. Don’t try to pull quickly. Pull slowly and steadily. Continue pulling until your vehicle is unstuck and on stable ground. To avoid overheating the motor, don’t pull for a longer time. While winching, press the gas pedal to help move the vehicle forwards.
4. Stop winching when your vehicle reaches the stable ground. When you reach the stable ground, your vehicle will be flat and you won’t need the winch to drive forward. Switch off the winch remote control and press the gas pedal to check if you’re able to drive forward without the winch.
Part 3: Unrigging the Winch
1. Unhook and rewind the winch cable. Firstly, unhook the winch cable from the D-ring shackle. After that, slowly rewind the winch cable by using the remote control.
2. Unplug the winch remote control. Store it in a dry place in your vehicle.
3. Retrieve the D-shackle and tree trunk protector from the anchor. Store these tools in a safe place in your vehicle.
- While the cable is under tension, never try to disengage the clutch.
- Never try to use the winch as a hoist.
Let’s watch an awesome video on winching.
Important Winch Accessories You’ll Need For Winching
A winch is a simple tool alone. You’ll need some rigging accessories to make your winch functional and safe to use. Some accessories are vital for safe winching and some are used for added convenience and versatility.
Which accessories will you need to pack depend on these five factors:
- Vehicle type
- The length of your trip
- Personal winching experience
- Types of environment and climate
- How much accessories you can comfortably pack
Here I am going to talk about some of the important winch accessories.
Gloves: You must wear protective gloves while handling cable or operating the winch. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes while winching.
D-Shackles: The D-Shackle is used for connecting the looped
ends of cables, rigging straps, snatch blocks, tree trunk protector etc. It offers a threaded pin for easy removal. There are basically two styles of shackles: Synthetic rope shackle and Screw-pin anchor shackle.
Snatch Block: The multipurpose snatch block make your winch more capable by
(1) Increasing the pulling capacity of your winch.
(2) Changing winching direction safely without damaging the winch cable.
Tree Trunk Protector: These straps are made of tough high-quality nylon. They are designed to help protect a live tree from damage at the time of winching.
Choker Chain: It Can be used as a winching connecting point when using a sharp object or abrasive boulder as an anchor point.
Tow Hooks: This tool offers an attachment point for chains, straps and wire hooks.
Shovel: Offroaders use this tool to remove restrictive terrain from under their vehicle and around their vehicles’ tires.
Winch Line Damper: The duty of winch line damper is to prevent recoiling when the line breaks under load. It’s a must if you’re using a steel winch line.
Winch Kit: You will find a variety of winch kits manufactured by winch manufacturers. These kits contain necessary winch accessories in durable bags.
Winch Line Extensions: This enhances the reach and rigging range of your winch. Synthetic winch rope material is the most used material of winch line extensions. You can also use flat straps as winch line extensions which are manufactured from non-stretch polyester.
Battery Recommendations: If you have a 12000 lb winch, then a lead-acid 12-volt automotive battery with a minimum rating of 650 Cold Cranking Amps is recommended to get the peak performance from your winch. Almost every winch has a recommended battery rating. You can easily find out the exact battery rating for your winch.