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TO WINCH OR TO BE WINCHED

by Takeo De Meter

Drive your S III enthousiastically into the deepest boghole on your favourite playground and you have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your winching skills to your friends, who will like you all the more for that, but only after the second or third shower the next day.
A typical boghole for good winching exercise has about 1m to 1m20 of watery black stinking mud in it, so that it does not matter whether you brought you rubber boots with you or not. Best months for this are January and February. Pouring rain is not mandatory, but it adds greatly to the fun.

So before you get seriously interested in impressing anyone by demonstrating your watersport skills, you need a couple of items:
a. a Land-Rover (any will do nicely)
b. a winch

Question is, of course, what type of winch do I need for my toy ? Answer is easy: the one I can afford. But let us first summarize what is available:
1. Electrical
2. Mechanical (drum)
3. Mechanical (capstan)
4. Hydraulic
5. Mechanical, hand-operated
6. Mecanical, drum, motorized, portable
7. Hybrid.
8. „The Force“ (may it be with you).

1. Electrical winches.

Power comes from the vehicle‘s battery and, if you are clever, from a separate deep-cycle battery that gets charged through a split-charge system and operates independently from the original vehicle battery. The advantage of this double-battery system is that winching does not affect the functions of your engine, lights, radio and your grandfather‘s pace maker.

2. Mechanical drum winch

Power comes from the running engine of the vehicle, through a power take-off on the gearbox and is transmitted to the winch by means of a shaft. Advantage of this is that these tend to be more powerful than electrical winches and will work as long as your engine is running. They can usually be used with or without any of the gears engaged.

3. Mechanical capstan winch

Power comes from the vehicle‘s engine and is usually taken direct from the crankshaft by means of a dog clutch engaging into the crankshaft pulley. Advantage of this is that they will work as long as the engine is running. Will also work with any of the gears engaged, but is it a two-person job, really, for I think it is best to have someone behind the wheel. There is, however, some skill required in the use of a capstan winch on a Land-Rover, much in the way it is used on fishing boats, but without the smell of rotten fish and drunk fishermen. The choice of the rope is also important as to minimize slip and a good diameter of rope helps avoiding the rope being caught onto itself which can be, at least, annoying, if not damn dangerous.
4. Hydraulic drum winch.
Power comes from a hydraulic pump driven by the vehicle‘s engine, the drive on the winch is by a hydromotor. Advantages of this are high power and it will work as long as the engine is running. This type of winch is not affected by being completely submerged

5. Mechanical, hand-operated wire rope winch.

Power comes from elbow grease and swearing; having lots of breath can also be an advantage. This is a rather slow but powerful system in which a wire rope is alternately caught and released by a system of clamps. Of course, it works totally independently from the vehicle‘s engine or battery condition. One of the best known brands is „Tirfor“ and these may have a capacity of up to 10 tons lifting power. Not recommended for wimpy male bank employees with delicate hands.

 

 

6. Mechanical, drum, motorized, portable.

Not many of these around. Interesting system where a chain saw engine powers a small drum winch that can be hooked up on a tow ball or some other suitable anchoring point. I have never used it but it seems to work. Is a bit noisy, though.

7. Hybrid winch.

Not many of these around either, but I think that this is the best idea of all, qua economy and efficiency. So how do I get a hybrid winch ? Easy. Go visit junkyards on a search for any winch of reasonable size up to a mechanical Braden, 5-tons, which is about the heaviest you can carry. This is the same winch found on WW II GMC and Dodge trucks. Anything else will do too but keep it cheap and it is not important whether it has a drive or not. Once you found something, the next thing you do is to fabricate a mounting for placing it on the front of your Landy if it will fit in between the wings, or somewhere in the back or under the chassis if it happens to be too wide. It does not really matter if your winch is in the front or in the back of your vehicle and I have often seen Swiss and German show-offs with two winches.
Ok. now that you got a winch, what comes next ? Get a drive for it. Best drive you can find is a NEW hydromotor in the 8-10 HP range and capable of some 1500 / 2000 revs. ( These sell from industrial outlets for around EUR 370.-- ). The pump you need is an ordinary second-hand power steering pump. Furthermore you will need an adaptor shaft for coupling the motor to the winch and a fabricated mounting for the motor, high-pressure hydraulic fluid lines, an oil reservoir and a forward/reverse valve that you can mount anywhere in the oil lines. Estimated cost: (in EUR) 80 for the second hand winch with a shot motor, 370 for the hydromotor, 100 for the lines and the valve, 50 for the servo pump and maybe 100 for the shaft, which will set you back some EUR 700.-- This is very cheap for a good hydraulic winch that will keep going long after all the others have burnt their electric motors or exhausted their batteries.

Takeo.