First Winch Revcovery

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
When it snows here, our hill is iffy at best. Actually, going up has never been a problem, as long as I am able to keep momentum. It's going down the 15 degree slope with a drop off on both sides, and no shoulder that get you. Usually it's just a matter of going slow, and keeping the tires rolling so you have directional control. I learned this a few years back when using the 2008 GL320 hill decent control, and spinning 2.5 times at 3 miles per hour. The computer breaking for the hill was enough to cause the spin. This morning, I put chains on just to drive 1/2 a mile, knowing I'd take them off when I got to the level roads down below. It was 20 degrees, 4-6" of snow, packed snow, that had become solid ice over night.

https://flic.kr/p/245v7rR
On the way back up in the afternoon, even with patches that had melted in the snow, the hill was still a bit iffy. This guy had been up the hill, and didn't make the turn into his driveway. I attempted a quick yank with a strap just to see if we'd get lucky. But he had zero traction, and even though I got the rear wheel to come down to the ground, this lifted the front wheel into the air.

Out came the new winch line! And... a lesson I'll not forget.... I repositioned the truck to do the pull, and underestimated the length of the rope and yanked it right off the spool! Idiot.... well, it is fixable, and I won't lose more than an inch or so of rope length since all it did is pop off the locating screw. The good part of this is that I was able to prove that the synthetic line is repairable in the field. I simply knotted it around the spool, turned it over by hand till it pulled itself tight, then winched like normal. Lesson: just pull the line out by hand, not with the truck. You probably already knew that.

After one attempt, we dug the front wheels out a bit more, put some wood under them, and spent some time cleaning the ice off the driveway for the tires to get some traction. It came out alright after that. To give you an idea of how slick it was, and how steep the hill is, the truck actually slid laterally out into the street on it's own after he turned the engine off.

https://flic.kr/p/2eFXBBR
The second thing I learned is that my set-up actually works. The winch was put to its limit. The line held, the winch motor didn't heat up, and although I still need to make a permanent connection to the battery, and permanently anchor the controller plug in place. The rest of the pull went off without a hitch. Literally. The Smitybilt isn't as high-end as a Warn or Superwinch, but the working components proved themselves in exactly the way I need -- as a once or twice a year type of insurance plan. Well, and for when it snows on my hill. I don't particularly like the control cable plug, but I'm going to reserve final judgement on it till I get the plug fixed in place on the vehicle.
 

jymmiejamz

Founding Member
Callsign: KN4JHI
I don't know anything about Smittybuilt or their winches, but I will say one lesson I learned early on is that a cheap winch works great until it doesn't. And when you need a winch, it needs to work.
 

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
I'm not going to be surprised if it turns out that way. I spent $200 on this long ago, had it sitting in the garage for years. So if it can save me from calling for a tow a few times before I replace it, I'll call it a success and get something real next time. But yes, I agree.
 

BarryO

Well-known member
Cool. I remember my first recovery, with the Disco in '97. We were visiting the beach north of Pacific City (where you can drive on the beach) and saw a big lifted F-250 get stuck near the surf. He had backed up to retrieve a trailer that he'd driven a pair of jet skis onto, but he forgot to engage his front hubs. When he gave it some gas the rear tires just dug into the wet sand until his diff was resting in the sand; he was stuck. And the tide was rolling in. I stayed well up on dry sand but ran the winch cable down to him and pulled him out. I think he was a tiny bit embarrassed to get helped by this SUV but he was gracious about it.

And yea I parked and free-spooled the cable out by hand. You need to leave at least one full wrap on the drum. ;)
 

LR Max

Well-known member
I don't know anything about Smittybuilt or their winches, but I will say one lesson I learned early on is that a cheap winch works great until it doesn't. And when you need a winch, it needs to work.
I usually agree. However Smittybilt hit a home run with the X20 winch. I started seeing them in the field about 5 years ago. In the past few years, seeing them in action, they work very well. Synthetic line, solid state solenoid, and fast. Fairly impressive. Their "cheaper" winches work well but every owner says they wish to replace it.

But yes, harbor freight special and the electric mile marker winches aren't known for their durability.

Good job on your winching. Try "using" your winch once a month. Even if you just tie off to a pole in a parking lot and do a full pull. This keeps rust out of your winch, and lubricates everything nicely. Also if you have a problem, a lot easier to find it during your test than on the trail. Such tests have saved me twice (both times, bad wiring, easy fix in the comfort of my garage).
 

Bostondave

Well-known member
Try "using" your winch once a month. Even if you just tie off to a pole in a parking lot and do a full pull...
LR Max, could you please elaborate on this? Do you recommend putting the truck in neutral and pulling the truck itself towards the pole? Also, are there any special lubricants or techniques to keep the winch and line (synthetic) fresh?
 

Roverman2010

Well-known member
You could fit the Bubba rope "The Grabber" or stich a coloured piece of material to the rope 5 wraps before the end.

As for cleaning the rope 5 gallon bucket of warm water baby shampoo let it dry recoil with load and keep it covered, Dexron does not like UV rays man.
 

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LR Max

Well-known member
LR Max, could you please elaborate on this? Do you recommend putting the truck in neutral and pulling the truck itself towards the pole? Also, are there any special lubricants or techniques to keep the winch and line (synthetic) fresh?
Yes. So I'll park about 3 vehicle lengths away from a pole, always downhill. One nice things, pretty much nothing is completely level so I just figure out the "low side" and start there. I'll go ahead and rig to the pole (using tree saver). Sometimes if I don't have space, I'll use a pulley block, just to get line out and off the drum. Then I'll take up the slack. Once then, with the engine off, transmission in neutral, and parking brake off, I'll start winching. As I go along, sometimes I have to move the steering wheel or whatnot if I'm not tracking completely straight. The entire time, I'm wearing gloves and I'm making sure the line goes on the drum nicely. When I get close to the pole, I'll put her back in park, clean up my mess, and roll out.

This runs the winch. Knocks off any rust inside that could become a problem. Wraps your wire rope/rope-rope up all nice on the drum so it'll be easy to pull next time. And re-familiarizes oneself with the use of the winch.

Also its been my experience that the battery can easily run the winch in this configuration with the engine off, with no issues of re-starting. So I leave the engine off, one less thing.

This is also great after using the winch, because if I've crossed up or had any issue, I can deal with it on a Saturday morning between coffee and breakfast...and not in some miserable mud hole or whatever disaster I've gotten myself into this time.

Winches typically aren't serviced. To be serviced, they generally have to be disassembled. Once then you can use some fancy greases and whatnot. Which is probably a good idea. The only exception to this rule is a Warn 8274 which has a bit (forgot the quantity) of 30w motor oil in it for lubrication. I guess it depends on how much you use the winch, how much you leave it out in the rain, and how much you dunk it in water/soupy mud. I beat my M12000 pretty hard. Took about 4 years of neglect before it needed to come apart. After that I started taking care of it by pulling the rope out once/month. This seems to have warded off any other issues. Also keeps myself up to speed on use. Seems like everytime I do a parking lot pull, I say to myself, 'Jeez I hope no one sees me being useless over here'.

You can clean the wire rope or synthetic rope. For wire, I would just use a wire brush. For synthetic, I pull it off the drum and dunk it in a bucket of water. Gets all the crap off of it.

For our kind of winching, synthetic is super nice. Easy to pull, doesn't get unraveled on the drum, easy on the hands, and doesn't get destroyed when crossed up on the drum. Also when you are winching, you want easy, because if you are winching, then life is already hard and therefore you don't need anything else going wrong.

Is it the best way? Dunno. But it has worked for me. And when I've needed my winch, it has worked. So that is important.
 

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
And yea I parked and free-spooled the cable out by hand. You need to leave at least one full wrap on the drum. ;)
Yes, this I knew. I just didn't knew the part about how far I had actually backed up! I usually try to leave half the last spool, and with the slick rope I think at least 4-6 wraps is more appropriate. I've actually done a lot of winching with the trees I'm constantly cutting down, but only two other vehicle recoveries some 10+ years ago.
 

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
.... so how do you know what the limit of the winch is?
Only that it stopped pulling while I purposefully kept the button pushed. If it was going to break, or overheat, I wanted to break it on the first time out, 1/2 a mile from home. But yeah, that's a vague statement, isn't it?
 

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
You could fit the Bubba rope "The Grabber" or stich a coloured piece of material to the rope 5 wraps before the end.

As for cleaning the rope 5 gallon bucket of warm water baby shampoo let it dry recoil with load and keep it covered, Dexron does not like UV rays man.
It has a sleeve over the last five feet or so. It's just that I was stupid and pulled it out with the truck, so I couldn't see when it came to an end. Also, I have a cover on the winch, and I live in Oregon, so UV and road grime should be at a minimum. The Grabber is what I'm getting to put the line back on the spool. But my stupid stunt would have pulled that off as well!
 

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
LR Max, could you please elaborate on this? Do you recommend putting the truck in neutral and pulling the truck itself towards the pole? Also, are there any special lubricants or techniques to keep the winch and line (synthetic) fresh?
Actually, yes. This is how you install a rope on the winch, and how you reset it after a trip when it has been used. You need to have it pre-tensioned so that it won't slip as you pull, or allow the coils to slip between one another and cause heat friction. And I plan to pull the gears out of this and completely re-grease it with some high quality grease. These are known to use Chinese KY in the gears, and people report that using high quality grease makes it run a lot better.
 

Roverman2010

Well-known member
It has a sleeve over the last five feet or so. It's just that I was stupid and pulled it out with the truck, so I couldn't see when it came to an end. Also, I have a cover on the winch, and I live in Oregon, so UV and road grime should be at a minimum. The Grabber is what I'm getting to put the line back on the spool. But my stupid stunt would have pulled that off as well!
Yea that sleeve is whats called a rope protector usually goes on the loose end. I f you think about it you don. want anything loose on the drum end stopping the rope from biting/binding.
 

RBBailey

Well-known member
Callsign: KF7KFZ
I’ll look into it. But there is a sleeve on the loose end. I thought I remember reading that the one on the drum was about that end length and heat protection.
 

Bostondave

Well-known member
Thanks for the maintenance tips. I'll definitely give the winch and line a once over this spring. I've pulled the line out and successfully rewound it this past summer though it wasn't under load.
While on the subject - does anyone have/recommend a cover on an ARB mounted winch (xd9000)?
 

BarryO

Well-known member
That was my next question. It's a straight pull, you're down to the last layer on the drum, and nothing on either side of the cable comes close to 8500 lbs. It should not have stalled.
Look at most winch specifications and you see that you need to supply 100's a amps to the motor for it to deliver its maximum rated pull. Lots of things can restrict that: cable gauge, cable length, battery short-circuit rating, battery internal resistance, etc.
 

BarryO

Well-known member
Yea that sleeve is whats called a rope protector usually goes on the loose end. I f you think about it you don. want anything loose on the drum end stopping the rope from biting/binding.
Some synthetic ropes have a heat-protective sleeve on the rope on the end that first wraps around the drum. UHMWPE isn't as heat-resistant as steel (duh), and power-out on a winch can generate a lot of heat since you're working against the internal brake.
 
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