HOW-TO: WINCHING TIPS
— Get unstuck with ease —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
This article isn’t for the seasoned veteran of winching and getting unstuck. It’s aimed at the rider or driver who is getting into our sport and wanting to know safe and effective ways to use your winch. Getting stuck isn’t a part of anyone’s plan, but it happens, and there are great tools that you should keep on your rig when you go out into mud, on rocks or along gnarly trails. Warn offers a light-duty winch kit that comes with a 1/2-inch steel-4500 shackle, two tree-trunk protectors/rope straps, a carry bag, winching gloves and a snatch block, which is a pulley capable of handling 9000 pounds.
If you love to ride in forests like we do, then you may come across a sticky situation where you need to utilize a tree to winch yourself out. If that is the case, you must know that if you loop one end of your tree trunk protector through the other around a tree, when it gets tight, it can kill the tree. This is also well-known with the winch line alone. You never want to hook your winch hook around a tree back to the winch line. This can damage your winch lead and hurt the tree. Hopefully, you can tell the difference between a living tree and a dead one. If you connect to a dead tree, it could break and cause injury and make problems for your recovery.
A tree canopy get nutrients from the roots through a system beneath the bark. If you squeeze the tree too tight, its feeding circulation may never recover and will die. While we love riding trails, we also want to tread as lightly as possible.
It’s a common practice to either utilize your shackle to hook on both loops of the strap, or connect two straps together to get around a bigger trunk.
PULLING A BUDDY OUT
We all know a guy that tends to get stuck the most, and it’s not usually in a convenient place. Say your buddy gets stuck facing a way that he can’t utilize his own winch to get out of it. This means you must come to the rescue. You connect to his machine and, instead of pulling him out, your rig starts sliding towards his. We have a solution for you—connect your machine to a nearby tree so you stay stationary and can use the full pulling power of your winch.
Start by rigging up a tree-trunk protector strap around a tree, then connect a shackle and another strap to the end of it. Instead of simply attaching the strap to the back of your rig, it’s best to run it to the closest point possible on the front of your ride. Warn has found out that frames stretch if you hook a line to the back of it and winch with the front. You do not want that to happen to your ride!
CONNECTING THE WINCH LINE
Attaching a hook to a clevis seems like it is pretty straightforward. This is true; however, there is always an easier way to do things. We took tips from the guys at Warn on how to help things run smoothly. We learned that it’s good practice to connect your winch hook upside down with the clasp/open end facing upward. This puts the tension on the hook and not the tip of the hook.
We then questioned the best way to connect a steel shackle. If the shackle is going to straighten out and lay flat, the direction of the shackle pin won’t matter; however, if the shackle will be vertical in operation, it’s best to insert the pin from the top side.
Steel and even synthetic winch lines can be very dangerous if they break during use. It is good practice to place an item like a heavy jacket or a weighted carry case on the line. This lessens the ability of it flying backwards at the winch operator. Purchasing a remote with your winch can also keep you further out of harm’s way.
UTILIZING A SNATCH BLOCK
A snatch block is very useful. When you introduce a pulley into the winch-line setup, you have to utilize more line, but you get more pulling power (up to double!) out of it. A snatch block is a pulley that you can spread open and run the line around without having to disconnect a winch cable.
One example employing a snatch block is when you need to run the line from a tree back to your machine to pull it out. Once you have rigged up your tree strap, you can introduce the snatch block and loop the winch lead back to your machine.
THE WAYS OF WINCHING
There are more ways to rig up winch lines, but these are a few worthy tips to know. Another good practice is to let your winch rest every 60 seconds or less of pulling time. It gets hot and needs time to cool and let the engine recharge the battery. It is also important that you always leave 4–5 spools of line on the winch hub before pulling; otherwise, the lead could disconnect from the winch hub and you now have a broken winch.
Having the proper equipment on hand at all times while off-roading is a great idea. It is also important to know how to properly use your equipment when the going gets tough. For safety, have helpers and friends stay out of the danger zone. This is a circle equivalent to the length of the cable being used. Hopefully, these tips get you back out on the trail with ease! Go to www.warn.com to check out their winch accessory kits.
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